Harry Lyall (Class of 1978), Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic surgeon

How did CLS get you ready for the world of work?

CLS meant anything is possible.

What was your first job?

After university and medical school, I gradually learned my trade doing a ten-year series of junior hospital posts. But I’m sure that I learned much more about the way the world actually works as a groundworker with a shovel during the long university holidays!

Your biggest professional achievement?

Getting to a level of competency across a very wide skill set.

For this job you certainly need some book learning, and there are almost endless examinations. For surgery, you do have to learn a certain level of dexterity. If you’re having a procedure yourself you probably want your surgeon to be fastidious and to care about details, but also to have at least some empathy. You need stamina for the nights and weekends. But as a surgeon, you also have to be able to listen effectively to your patients, and to work well with the other members of a very large team. These softer skills are often the hardest miles.

Your most challenging professional moment?

There are so very many - some technical while operating, and some while listening to and speaking to patients.

But that’s why the job is so rewarding.

What inspires and motivates you at work?


Hospital doctoring gives the extraordinary privilege of meeting at work the entire cross-section of humanity. Over time you do get to meet all the different kinds of individuals that there are in our society. It’s hard to think of another way of spending your life that allows this.

One piece of advice for pupils and other Old Citizens about getting into your profession?

Persevere – it’s worth it. Doctoring – and in my own case surgery – is just so interesting, and it remains absorbing all the way along your career.