Peter Choong
One Surgeon Giving Meaning to Life with Infinite Passion
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Written by Erica Musgrove

SURGERY 😷

I am a surgeon first. Patients are the centre of my medical universe. I wanted to do was surgery because it satisfied my character. I love tinkering, detail, getting it right. It’s like a puzzle. I love using my hands to do that. It was luck. I actually thought I was going to do head and neck surgery, and one day I was offered a position in orthopaedics. I said “Sure” and the rest is history. You’ll recognise an opportunity if it is an opportunity for you.

RESEARCH 🔬

It starts with just being really passionate about what you do. Research is like that for me - it’s a total ball! There’s no question that good clinical practice comes from great research, because research is where people take the time to understand.

TEACHING 👨‍🏫

I love riding horses. It gets me to interact with this big thing that doesn’t know English, but you have to learn how to communicate. I’ve become a better teacher because of my horse riding. You stop them, you show them what you want, and then help them do it. It’s about asking, not telling.

PHILOSOPHY 🤔

I’m a bit of an existentialist, which is that life is essentially meaningless. We give our own lives meaning in this meaningless world; what we do gives us meaning. All of us are the CEOs of our own lives. You’re responsible for your own happiness.

ACHIEVEMENTS 🏆

I am proudest of the fact that a lot of people who where my PhD students, those I’ve mentored, have gone on to do the most fabulous things. I have four daughters, I’m proud because they know what is right. That means I’ve been successful in passing on values that are commensurate with what I think is a noble life.

MENTORING 💡

I love helping people unravel their own mystery. I spend my whole life watching people. I know what’s going through their minds before they do. I like inspiring people to be better. I like seeing them succeed. I thrive on the vicarious nature of my relationships.

BALANCE ⚖️

I am learning Swedish. There is this phrase - lagom - which means “just right”. It doesn’t mean good, it doesn’t mean perfect, it means just right. Just right is where I want to be.

Professor Peter Choong is the Sir Hugh Devine Professor and Chair of Surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. He is currently leading the team behind BioPen - a handheld device which uses 3D-printing to allow surgeons to ‘draw’ live cells and growth factors directly onto an injury site.

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