The first Consultant Plastic Surgeon of Chinese-descent in Ireland, Mr Fuan Chan MD FRCSI (Plast) is currently Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the leading and oldest private hospital in Ireland, the prestigious Blackrock Clinic Private Hospital. His specialties are in skin cancer surgery, trauma and reconstructive surgery, breast and cosmetic surgery including Asian cosmetic surgery, cleft rhinoplasty and orthognathic surgery. Fuan Chan started his foray in medicine when he joined the then International Medical College (now known as International Medical University – IMU) in 1995. He studied the first two and a half years at the University before transferring to Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Ireland, where he graduated from in 2000. This IMU Alumnus then undertook his Basic Surgical Training, Post-graduate Higher Degree (MD) based on 2 years of full laboratory research titled: “Investigating Flap Survival Using Pre-Conditioning Technique” and Higher Surgical Training Irish National Training Programme in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (CCST) at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. At the end of his higher surgical training in aesthetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery, he was appointed as a Fellow at the world-renowned Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, specialising in reconstructive microsurgery, craniofacial surgery and Asian Cosmetic Surgery. His hard work and achievements led to the offer of a one-year fellowship in plastic surgery (craniofacial surgery) at the prestigious Ronald Reagan Medical Center, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). During that year, he had also worked with many of the leading Plastic Surgeons in Hollywood and Beverly Hills who are affiliated to UCLA. In addition, he has earned numerous awards and gold medals in plastic surgery at national and international scientific meetings with more than 25 peer-reviewed publications and delivered more than 30 presentations at plastic surgery scientific meetings in Ireland, Europe, USA and Asia. Fuan tells us more in this interview. How does it feel to be offered such a prestigious position at Blackrock Clinic? It is a huge sense of achievement, as I never felt that I would be offered an opportunity to work at such a prestigious private hospital. It gives me recognition and a seal of approval that despite not being born and bred in Ireland, I still have such a wonderful opportunity to work as the first Consultant Plastic Surgeon of Chinese-Descent in Ireland. What is your motivation to be so successful? I have always wanted to become a successful physician who can contribute in medicine. Success does not come easily. I find that life is an on-going challenge and the process itself is a test of a person’s perseverance, diligence, and determination. At one stage, I felt like I would never see today coming as I was always competing against Irish peers who are excellent by their very nature and outstanding in every aspect. As such, I pushed myself relentlessly to excel in every area so that I could stand shoulder to shoulder with my professional colleagues. Almost all of the outstanding doctors and surgeons who are working in this prestigious private hospital have worked and excelled in the world best hospitals such as the Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Toronto’s Children’s Hospital, and etc. Why did you choose this particular specialty? I knew this surgical specialty was for me when I experienced it in my first 3 months of surgical internship. I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to be offered a 2 years scheme of basic surgical training by RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland).
Within that 2 years of surgical training, I had a 6 months rotation in plastic surgery, which was ‘the moment’ that I knew that Plastic Surgery specialty was definitely for me for the following reasons: a) The broad spectrum of surgical procedures in plastic surgery, b) The strong blending of art and science with a strong aesthetic sense, c) The surgical ability to improve not only the form and function, but also the aesthetic outcomes.
One of the most critical moments in my plastic surgery career was the challenging competition for a place in higher surgical training scheme in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. It started with a human factors assessment, aptitude tests and surgical skills assessment. All these rigorous assessments were followed by a highly scrutinized and intricate interview. Until today, I still remember that interview environment where I was surrounded by the intimidating interview panels consisting of 19 practicing Consultant Plastic Surgeons in Ireland, one external examiner, a RCSI chair and a higher surgical training co-ordinator. The moment of knowing that I was successful at the interview and was offered the place for Higher Surgical Training Scheme was overwhelming. It remains as one of my happiest moments as there are only one or two positions each year and sometimes there are no open position for the whole year.
This was followed by a comprehensive, highly structured and intensive training plastic surgery. My passion in plastic surgery remained unchanged as I was advancing through the higher surgical training programme. This further reinforced my ambition to be a fully accredited consultant plastic surgeon.
How do you think your time in IMU have helped you in this achievement? IMU laid down the essential and pre-requisite professional and non-academic skills for my career in plastic surgery. IMU was at the frontier of medical education and had outstanding faculty incorporating many educators from well-recognised international institutes and universities. I was fortunate enough to be elected as the President of the Student Council which gave me the opportunity to nurture and flourish in every aspect of my leadership skills, communication skills, team building and problem solving skills. These skills enabled me to progress and become a real contender in plastic surgery. Your future plans The majority of the physicians working in the Blackrock Clinic are outstanding in their respective fields. I am privileged to have the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with these elite professionals to advance the medical and surgical fields. My short-term goal is to fully harness my expertise in such a positive working environment in Blackrock Clinic Private Hospital. Additionally, I have been given the responsibility to take a leading role in developing and expanding the aesthetic, plastic and reconstructive services in this reputable private hospital. In the longer term, I will be working closely with other top plastic surgeons to develop and progress in parallel with the BIGGER plans laid out for this wonderful hospital. The ambition is to put a marker on the world map for Blackrock Clinic Private Hospital and make it foremost whenever plastic surgery is mentioned. Other than that, I wish also to continue participation in overseas charity work that is empowering and giving. Special Thanks to: Dr Mei Ling Yuong (IMU Co-Founder and Provost) Prof Ong Kok Hai (IMU Director of External Affairs) Prof Yu-Ray Chen (Professor of Surgery at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan) Prof Fu-Chan Wei (Professor of Surgery at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan) Prof Henry. Kawamoto (Professor in Craniofacial Surgery, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA) Prof Michael Earley (Consultant Plastic and Craniofacial Surgeon, Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Ireland) Tom O’Reilly (Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Blackrock Clinic, Blackrock, Dublin, Ireland) Sean Carroll (Consultant Plastic Surgeon, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland) Philip Lim (Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK)