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Sarah Tucker begins term as new BFIRST Chair

We would like to wish a warm welcome to consultant plastic and hand surgeon Sarah Tucker who will be fulfilling the post of BFIRST Chair for 2020-2022. Take a look at her profile below to find out what motivated her to get involved with the work of BFIRST.

I grew up in a small town in Devon and applied to study medicine at Bristol. However, I didn’t want to go straight from school to university so I took a gap year (before they were trendy!) and got a scholarship to spend the year working in healthcare in Pakistan. It was this experience of being immersed in a foreign culture that changed my world view for life. Following this, I went on to study medicine and train in plastic surgery with the expectation that I would be involved in work overseas further on.

Towards the end of my training I took 2 years out to live and work in Nepal, taking my young family with me. I learned the language and lived in a local village setting on the outskirts of Pokhora, working across 2 sites. The work involved correcting burns contractures, treating the effects of leprosy, operating on severe pressure sores and overseeing the local government burns unit. This experience helped me to assess what was helpful in terms of interventions from wealthy nations and it became clear to me that the key to building a sustainable service was by working with local surgeons to empower them and facilitate training for them.

On returning to the UK, I completed my plastic surgery training and subsequently joined the BFIRST committee. I had just settled into my consultant post at Oxford when the Nepal earthquake happened in 2015. I carried out a scoping visit on behalf of BAPRAS and forged strong links with the plastic surgery team out in Kathmandu. I have visited them regularly to provide training and support as directed by them ever since. As a result of listening to what the Nepali surgeons felt they needed, I negotiated the development of global fellowships with BFIRST where surgeons go for an extended period to spend time with star performing surgeons in a setting that equips them with the skills and experience for the work in a resource poor setting.