Prof Delawir Kahn – Head of the Department of Surgery

01 December 2014

For Prof Delawir Kahn, being a surgeon and being a teacher are intricately intertwined.

"Surgeons thoroughly enjoy what they do. To a surgeon, what we do is not work," he enthuses. "To be in an operating theatre ... there is just nothing like it. I think there are very few people who get that much job satisfaction and who love to tell people what they do as much as surgeons."

He counts legendary surgeon Jack Collis, plastic surgeon Dr Frank Court and Dr Tom Starzle, the father of liver transplants, as some of the mentors who left a lasting impression on him during his training.

He believes that you don't teach students to be good doctors: "You have to act as a good doctor, and in that way, influence what they become. By being a committed, dedicated and hardworking person – it rubs off on people."

Kahn relishes the opportunity to make the connection between theory and practice in the operating theatre. "Students might learn anatomy, but it is still a mystery to them what it really looks like inside a body," he says. "But as surgeons we can show them an open chest with a heart beating away, or where we have removed an appendix or cut out a section and sewn something together again."

He is also passionate about the work that he does with grade 11 learners who don't know whether they want to do medicine or not.

"I take them on a walk through the hospital and into the operating theatre; it leaves an incredible impression on them," he says. "I like to think it makes a big difference in whether a student decides to take up medicine or not as a career. I think the intention is not to make a difference in someone's day, but in someone's life."

An irrepressible passion for their discipline, a genuine enthusiasm to impart knowledge and the desire to make a difference are three of the standout qualities shared by six academics who have been honoured with awards for their teaching efforts. Read more about these six teachers: Dr Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk, Assoc Prof June Pym, Dr Linda Ronnie, Prof Delawir Kahn, Assoc Prof James Gain and Dr Spencer Wheaton.

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Distinguished Teacher Award


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