World Doctor's Day: Kathy Fan's story

To mark World Doctor's Day, we spoke to Kathy Fan, a Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at King's

Kathy Fran

"My work as an oral and maxillofacial consultant surgeon at King’s College Hospital covers a wide range of hard and soft tissue surgery in the head and neck. I am also involved in the recruitment and teaching of medical and dental students, training clinicians on their career path to becoming consultant surgeons. I am fortunate to be able to work with amazing scientist who co-supervise PhD students.

"It's important to mark World Doctors Day today, as it is privilege to be a doctor and have patients trust you to take care of them. The ability to make a difference in someone’s life, and the lives of their family and friends, is an immense reward. My area of work involves the face. Our face is our identity and to be trusted by patients to work in this area is huge. The ability to ‘rebuild’ a severely injured face to allow that individual to continue with their lives is so rewarding."

Kathy shares the inspiration that led her to become a doctor: "During Sixth Form I wasn’t sure whether to study medicine or dentistry. Interestingly, I’ve chosen a career that requires me to be dual qualified in medicine and dentistry, and trained in surgery. After graduating in dentistry, I worked in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS). During this, I met a kind and inspirational Consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon who encouraged me to grow in surgical confidence. My medical degree followed, and at the same time, I worked as a junior clinician in OMFS during evenings and weekends to help fund my medical training.

"I love my job because it’s very varied - I enjoy surgery, research, and teaching future doctors, dentists, and surgeons. Maxillofacial surgery is so special, I work on both soft and tissues in an intricate area. Operating is so rewarding and surgery on the face can really make a difference to someone’s life. Patients sometimes tell me they have been bullied because their jaws don’t meet properly, and their faces have grown disproportionately. They are judged because of the way they look, and their lives have changed dramatically after surgery.

"There are so many memorable moments in my career. I recall a young lady who would hide her face coming to the clinic. After surgery, she came in walking tall, striding, and beaming. She exuded confidence. To be able to have such an impact on an individual’s well-being is humbling.

"Positive words for someone who is aspiring to become a doctor: follow your dreams and keep focused on your destination even though there might be occasional detours. Plan your career at each stage and set yourself small achievable goals. It is an amazing job, go for it!"