Obituary – Alan Gibb

Ian Gordon
Tuesday 29 September 2020

Alan Gibb (1919 – 2020)

Born in Aberdeen in 1919, to GP parents, Alan Gibb graduated MBChB from Aberdeen and was enrolled in National Service with the RAMC as a Specialist Otologist, deployed to West Africa, where he achieved the rank of Major.

Upon return, Alan was an ENT consultant at Dundee Royal Infirmary and then Ninewells Hospital from 1950 until his retirement in 1984.

During this time, he was appointed Senior Lecturer at the University of St Andrews and established a Department of Otolaryngology.

Perhaps his his most significant contribution to students not just at St Andrews and Dundee, but across the world, however, was the introduction of the Objective Structured Clinical Examination.

The OSCE is still the standard evaluation method for clinical competence, used in medical schools and schools of nursing and midwifery. Alan Gibb was instrumental to their introduction in medical schools not just in the UK, but after his retirement, throughout 8 years in the Far East.
In 2015, he told ENT & Audiology news:

“I was responsible for spreading the OSCE in the Far East. I spent a lot of time researching teaching, and I always emphasised that you have to let students do things, not just sit through lectures. We introduced OSCEs to Singapore and Hong Kong, and the Australian board consulted us before they introduced OSCEs to their exams.”

He worked until he was 78, but finally decided to indulge in his other passions such as hillwalking and fly fishing. Also an accomplished golfer (with a one time handicap of 3), on his 90th birthday, he played 90 holes at Balmoral in under 24 hours with every hole putted and no lost balls.
He continued to ski until 95.

As with his two sisters, Alan lived beyond 100. He passed away on the 5th September at his home in the Cairngorms.

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