Awen Iorwerth graduated from the University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff. After a year teaching anatomy at Cardiff University, she moved to Cambridge to begin her training as a surgeon.
Back in Wales, she qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons before starting her specialist training in Trauma and Orthopaedics.
Awen spent a year undertaking laboratory research at the University Hospital in Cardiff. She was awarded a fellowship from the British Association for Surgery of the Knee (BASK) to complete that work.
She was appointed as a Trauma and Orthopaedics consultant specialising in the shoulder and the elbow at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in 2006, and soon she developed a taste for training young surgeons. After a brief period as a surgical tutor for the Royal College, she was appointed as Programme Director for Core Surgical Training in Wales.
In 2009, with a Fellowship from BESS (British Elbow and Shoulder Society), Awen had the privilege of spending a period at Massachusetts General Hospital. This was with Harvard Shoulder Service at the New York Presbyterian Hospital with Professor Bigliani from Columbia University. She then went to Cape Town with the pioneer Dr Joe de Beer.
The experience was important in her development as a surgeon – but it was not only the clinical work that opened her eyes. She noticed the ease with which multilingualism could happen in healthcare. In South Africa, three languages were used among the staff – Afrikaans, Xhosa and English. At the clinic, patients were allowed to use the language of their choice without any embarrassment. To Awen's surprise, the same was true in New York, with Spanish and English being used interchangeably without fuss.
Since 2010, Awen has been arranging the south Wales conferences for Y Gymdeithas Feddygol, the Welsh language Medical Association. She is determined, with the support of the committee, that this should be a forum to promote natural use of Welsh, in discussing and presenting clinical and scientific work from the beginning of doctors' careers.
Awen therefore began getting in touch with Welsh-speaking medical students. When the opportunity arose to work more formally in this area with the introduction of the C21 course at Cardiff University, Awen was delighted.
Her aim is to promote natural use of Welsh in the health workforce and in scientific work, to build on the foundations of Welsh-medium education at school. And more importantly, to give patients a language choice. She also hopes that this will help to mitigate the problems in recruiting doctors in Wales.
Subject / Speciality
- Director of Core Surgical Training in Wales
- Training medical students – including SSM
- Training trauma and orthopaedic registrars.