Successful Bermudian doctor receives top mastership
Bermudian doctor, Victor Scott Jr, has become one of a handful of doctors in the world to receive a mastership in the highly regarded medical organisation, the American College of Physicians.
“I have done a lot in my career, but I am probably most proud of the mastership,” said Dr Scott. He lives in Maryland, but was on the Island this month. “The American College of Physicians has about 132,000 members of whom about half or more are fellows. Worldwide there are only 500 masters. It is kind of a validation of a career.”
Dr Scott is a highly respected gastroenterologist in the United States. He has been named to
Washingtonian magazine's list of top area gastroenterologists three times. He was a member of the faculty of the Howard University College of Medicine from 1971 to his retirement three years ago.
During his career he had roles of increasing importance. He was the chief of the division of gastroenterology in the department of medicine for 29 years, vice-chairman of the department of medicine for 12 of those years before becoming interim chairman in 2000. At the time of his retirement he was senior vice president for the health sciences at Howard University.
Dr Scott was born in Bermuda to well-known educators Victor and Edna Mae Scott. Mr Scott was principal of the old Central School which was later renamed after him, Victor Scott Primary. Mrs Scott was also a principal at several schools including Harrington Sound Primary. While in Bermuda, Dr Scott visited students at Victor Scott Primary.
“It was great going to Victor Scott Primary,” Dr Scott said. “The students were very orderly and well behaved and very receptive. I told them about my father, and what the school was like when I was younger.”
He said his parents were a great inspiration to him and his brother, Clovis who now lives in Bronx, New York.
“My dad taught me something when I was a student at the Central School,” Dr Scott said. “He loved to teach mathematics and I was a good student at that level. He was always able to find that problem to solve that was a little bit beyond my reach. I learned that if I used what I knew already, had some imagination, and stuck with it I would eventually solve the problem. I think that has carried me through life.”
His desire to be a doctor went back so far in his life, it was hard for him to say where it started. His mother often told him if she cooked him a fried egg he would try to dissect the yolk from the white without breaking the yolk.
“I was always doing surgery,” he said with a laugh. “I had a very good start in Bermuda in elementary school. I went to the Berkeley Institute, and did well there. I went to McGill University in Montreal, Canada. I stumbled a bit there but graduated on time, but not as well as I would have wanted. I wasn't able to get into medical school, so I came back to Bermuda and taught at Sandys Secondary School from 1960 to 1962. Then Howard University admitted me to medical school. I had learned all my lessons, and from that point on I was very blessed and did well.”
In the late 1960s, there was a need for gastroenterologists, so Dr Scott specialised in this at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1971, he went back to Howard University as a faculty member, and helped them set up a gastroenterologist programme to train new people into the field.
“We are very proud of that, because at the time there weren't many opportunities for black physicians to train in more sophisticated sub-specialities of medicine,” he said. “In the late 1980s out of 360 fellows being trained in gastroenterology in the United States, only six were black, and four of the six were from the programme at Howard University. We had an important role to play. Obviously, things are better now. There are more opportunities and we train a broader variety of fellows now.”
Dr Scott was in Bermuda this month to attend the first lecture at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital organised in honour of the late Dr Edwin Astwood, endocrinologist, who was the first Bermudian doctor to get the mastership from the American College of Physicians in 1974. Dr Astwood was a medical pioneer whose research led to the modern day treatment of thyroid disease and paved the way for the contraceptive pill, among other things. During his career he was very close to getting a Nobel Prize. The memorial lecture in his honour was Dr Scott's idea.
“I met him 37 years ago,” said Dr Scott. “I attended the American College of Physicians convention in New York for the first time as a full member. At the convocation ceremony, he was honoured. I recognised the name Astwood as being Bermudian. I made a point to meet him and speak to him. At the time he received his mastership, the road to mastership was steep and narrow. You had to have done something that changed the whole course of medicine or introduced new knowledge. That was what he was honoured for.
“I received my mastership this April at a special convocation ceremony. Now the road isn't quite as narrow, although it is still steep. My forte has been in medical leadership. I spent my whole career at Howard University.”
Dr Scott has two children, Charles Scott and Tanya Scott Thomas and four grandchildren. He returns to Bermuda frequently during the year.