Liz Spencer: “there isn’t an ultimate bank of knowledge in healthcare”

January 1, 2016


What was your earliest ambition?

At 9 years old I wanted to be a vet, and I thought I would need to learn a lot of things to become a good vet. Now I know there isn’t an ultimate bank of knowledge in healthcare – there are always more questions to be asked.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

The students we teach. I find hearing their ideas for research exciting, and their enthusiasm is infectious.

Why did you get into EBM?

Now that EBM is becoming so well-known, it seems so self-evidently necessary, and it is hard to believe it hasn’t always been an intrinsic part of our approach to healthcare. EBM boils down to asking questions, and thinking hard about the answers we get. I can’t imagine not being part of that process.

What do you feel has made the most difference in EBM?

Educating the next wave of practitioners, which is leading to cultural change. Never mind thinking you know it all – know you don’t, and keep asking more questions!

What do you like most about teaching?

Tough questions challenge my knowledge and assumptions and make me keep learning.

What has been your most innovative piece of teaching?

I haven’t been innovative at all yet. I expect my students are looking forward to me innovating!

If you weren’t a doctor/teacher what would you be doing instead?

I’d probably be walking a large number of dogs in muddy fields.

What do you find hardest when teaching?

Knowing when to stop preparing. I hope that gets easier with experience!

If you were given £1 million for research, what would you do?

I would probably give it to Neuroblastoma UK to fund research into neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer with devastating consequences.

For more interviews in this series, please click here.

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