Denzil Douglas was born in St. Kitts-Nevis on 14 January 1953. After attending primary and secondary schools on his home island, he entered the University of the West Indies, where his interests were less in politics and more in science and medicine. He first received his Bachelor of Science degree and then turned to the study of medicine, earning degrees as a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery. He returned home to St. Kitts-Nevis to practice medicine and became the president of the St. Kitts and Nevis Medical Association. While practicing medicine he became active in politics as a member of the SKNLP, rising through its ranks to become deputy chairman. In 1989, after the Labour Party lost its third-straight election to Prime Minister Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds' party (PAM), the party leader resigned, and Douglas was chosen as his successor. With this promotion he became not only the head of his party, but also the official leader of the opposition in the National Assembly.