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Many are fascinated by doctors who also excel in writing. Conan Doyle, Somerset Maugham, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Anton Chekov, and our own Temi Zammit and Rużar Briffa are but a few of a long list of stethoscope-wielding authors.
So it was a thrill to hear the announcement that George G. Buttigieg, a consultant obstetrics and gynaecology surgeon and senior lecturer in the University's Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, has been awarded the 2007 national book award for his book Of Craft and Honour and a Templar's Chronicles.
The book, which is indeed a page-turner, has made its mark on the literary scene both within and beyond our shores, and is being discussed on Internet sites. We have heard that Mr Buttigieg is planning a follow-up book to surpass the present one, and that he is also venturing deeper into the academic aspects of obstetrics and gynaecology.
It is uncommon for such contributions by medical people to be recognised nationally. We should all be happy and proud that Mr Buttigieg, already well known for his gynaecological capabilities and now also acclaimed for his writing, comes from our campus. The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery has always been proud of its educators and intelligentsia who venture outside their strict field into other educational and cultural areas.
Vincent Tabone, a renowned Maltese ophthalmologist who contributed to stimulating writings and addresses both during and after his term as President, is a shining example.
Prof. Walter Ganado, in his time, was well known also for his imaginative expositions on those who, in his opinion, or perhaps even in real life, belonged to a masonic group, and these included a good number of public figures and academics.
Prof. Charles Savona Ventura, another obstetrics and gynaecology surgeon, is now accepted as an expert in medical history, as is Prof. Roger Ellul-Micallef, following the steps of Dr Paul Cassar. Dr Cassar was reputed for his benchmark text the Medical History of Malta and the University awarded him the degree of D. Litt. Honoris Causa.
Prof. Mark Brincat, in addition to his numerable medical academic publications as well as his clinical duties, continues to contribute to a number of cultural ventures including his very significant and unfailing love for the original characteristic Maltese bull.
Prof. Victor Griffiths' talks were, in addition to their academic value, inspiring in the use of the English language and syntax. Compared with the way this eloquent speaker expressed words, more recent presentations look thin and shallow despite today's use of audio-visual technology. Prof. John Rizzo Naudi, a physician by profession and now University chancellor, has not only ventured into the missionary field but has also joined the long list of writing and publishing medical people.
Talking of medical people dealing with languages, one cannot but mention the general practitioner Dr Stanley Farrugia Randon, who has recently helped a pharmacy student to write the first part of Maltese-English dictionary for pharmaceutical terms, following the steps of his father Dr Robert Farrugia Randon, who in addition to being a very busy medical practitioner was also an outstanding writer. Dr Robert Farrugia Randon followed the instinct of love to nature and writing of the well-known physician, Dr George Zammit Maempel.
Dr Lino German and surgeon Arthur Felice as other doctors also touched upon a number of philosophy and theology aspects and were frequent participants at learned meetings of the Philosophy Society.
In her oration at the graduation ceremony held last Monday at the University's Temi Zammit hall, Dr Valerie Sollars, dean of the Faculty of Education, emphasised the difference between schooling and education. She praised the Degreeplus programme and encouraged all academics and students to pursue a complete education commitment.
Academics such as these serve as a good example to our students, and we are sure that many will be actively contributing to the Degreeplus programme to help University students develop abilities outside their strict areas of study. This should encourage an appreciation of what education is really about.