There can be no doubt that Dr. Hugh Allen deserves a significant amount of the credit for bringing the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology to its preeminent position in Canada today. His name belongs along side others who have played significant roles in the history of Ob/Gyn at Western; names like W.P Tew, Robert Kinch and Earl Plunkett. While Hugh was active in both clinical research and clinical practice it is likely that in the latter sphere where his influence has been most strongly felt by the many residents who have worked along side this master surgeon. Allen-trained gynaecologists came to be recognized as simply “the best” across North American wherever they went to practice.
It is difficult to put a finger on what exactly made Dr. Allen’s tenure as a clinician/teacher so successful. Many would put it down to the combination of intelligence, skill, patience and genuine humility. Certainly Hugh did not arrive on the medical scene with a silver spoon in his mouth. He came from farm folk and started his long learning pathway in a one-room school near Chatham with sixty-five students and but one teacher. Needless to say he excelled and ultimately made it to Medical School here at Western and then to post-graduate training also in London before embarking on an intensive post graduate training program which included time spent in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Gratz, Vienna, Newcastle and London England.
His return to London Ontario to set up practice with Dr. W.P. Tew was the beginning of a major change in the quality (and quantity) of gynaecological surgery that was being done in this centre. Advanced techniques for the management of Gyn Oncology cases were soon introduced and referrals came in from all over Southwestern Ontario. Many residents who joined the program during this time, felt that they had been caught up in a whirlwind of clinical activity as throughput in Victoria Hospital’s operating rooms and wards became supercharged to meet the great clinical demand that he generated. If someone said that something couldn’t be done, Hugh invariably proved them wrong. He demanded a great deal from his residents and the nurses on the wards and in the O.R. but he worked just as hard as they did and was respected because he taught by example.
Over the years Dr. Allen has served on various hospital and university committees and gained a reputation for embracing change and urging his fellow committee members to open their minds and do likewise.
Dr. Allen has traveled abroad many times to share his surgical ideas and skills with others. As a result, recognition and appreciation came not only from within Canada but also internationally. These honours are rightfully Dr. Allen’s alone but the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology has frequently basked in his glory. HH Allen Day and its focus on clinical research and innovation is a way that we can thank him for all that he has done for us.
Dr. Allen’s current passion is building the Allen-Carey Education Award of Excellence in Women’s Health. This notable award enables clinical and research training opportunities Esuch as an additional year of highly specialized training in women’s health following a fellowship program E for health care providers who seek excellence.
Dr. Allen is leading the charge to increase the award’s endowment principal to $2 million. “This type of support was absolutely critical for my own professional development,” he says. “I’d like to see others have the same opportunity.”
Please consider joining Dr. Allen in supporting this important initiative.