FSFHG Vascular Surgeon nationally recognised for massive contributions during 30-year service

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FSFHG Consultant Vascular Surgeon Emeritus Professor Paul Norman AM
September 28, 2022

Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group (FSFHG) Consultant Vascular Surgeon Emeritus Professor Paul Norman AM, has had a big year for his career, having recently been awarded with his 30-year service badge and being named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to medicine in the field of vascular surgery.

Paul, who also sits on the Board of North Metropolitan Health Service and is an Emeritus Professor of Surgery and Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia (UWA), is perhaps best known for his contributions in the fields of abdominal aortic aneurysm, and peripheral and diabetic arterial disease.

Paul recently sat down to talk about his tremendous contributions over the past three decades.

Paul, you have been working in vascular surgery for 30 years – how has the discipline changed in that time?

Medical imaging technology has changed the area of vascular surgery so much. Thirty years ago, we did not have CT angiograms or MRI scans, and while we did have ultrasound, it was nothing like today. We often had to operate based on symptoms and clinical signs. Also, back then surgery entailed big open operations, but we now have the technology for minimally invasive endovascular procedures. Needless to say, patient outcomes are improving all the time.

You credit Fremantle Hospital (FH) for so many of your achievements. What is it about FH that makes it special?

I got my career started at FH in 1988 as a general surgical registrar and I was very happy working there. I knew I wanted to stay there to grow my career.

Apart from the nurses and doctors, I knew the cleaners, the engineers, the orderlies, the painters, the switchboard operators – many by name, and they knew me. When you know people, you work better together – and that means better patient care.

I became a consultant in 1991, Head of Department of General Surgery a few years later (in those days vascular surgery was part of general surgery), and the rest is history. I now work at both Fiona Stanley Hospital and FH.

While at FH, my main research interest was abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). After 15 grant applications, we finally got funding in 1995 for a large trial of community screening for AAAs. This was a major catalyst for my career and lead to many other grants and publications on AAA and other types of cardiovascular disease.

As well as the incredible support from the executive and my colleagues at FH, I will always be grateful to the patients involved. I still remember some patients, who despite being quite ill, were very keen to participate in research studies. We all owe so much to those patients.

How did it feel to be recognised in the 2022 Australia Day honours list and awarded an AM?

It was obviously a great honour to have been singled out for this recognition, but the achievements are not just my own. I was lucky to have been given opportunities at FH, and I was helped by colleagues at both the hospital and UWA. I was inspired by the many people I worked with along the way who gave more than they got. Ultimately, my 30-year long service badge means more to me than my AM title.

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