Graduating in 1947 my career plan was to join my father in general practice. Hands-on experience of paediatrics was needed. In 1948 I successfully applied for the new service post in the casualty department of Alder Hey Hospital. This was not a training post.
The unexpected survival of a severe casualty case of meningococcal septicaemia came to the attention of Prof Capon. The post was regraded as medical registrar. A neonatal appointment to Dr. Hudson’s Walton Hospital unit followed and led to an MD thesis on neonatal hypoglyaemia, supervised by Robert Todd, University Senior Lecturer.
Appointment as registrar and then as senior registrar in the University Department of Child Health involved duties split between the cardiac department in the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital and medical services in Alder Hey Hospital. Dr. Hay, later Professor, took his new trainee to the cardiac laboratory, first as an observer, then as assistant, later as an operator, and finally as a clinical discussant. Dr Todd opened the door to his huge personal collection of abstracts from the journals.
Prof Capon’s own monthly clinical presentations included the smell of congenital syphilis, pink disease from absorption of mercurial ointment, scurvy in a baby whose vitamin C had been lost through boiling the feed, erythema nodosum in rheumatic fever and many otherconditions now rarely seen.
The senior registrar assisted in specialty clinics and had his own general paediatric clinic, with backup if required. He attended a joint paediatric-psychiatric clinic. He attended the meetings of the Medical Board. These were exceptional learning opportunities.
John Hay and Robert Todd incorporated the senior registrar in their own research and publications. They each later actively supported new academic developments in Dublin. John Hay was the first to answer the call for a dvice when dealing with the new problem of LQTS in 1962. The link was long-lasting.
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