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Academic Foundation Programme (2013)

PATHWAY TO AN AFP POSITION

Imran became interested in the AFP because of his enjoyment of both research and teaching.

He first addressed research methodology during his Bachelor's project with Professor Zoltan Molnar, who proved to be an inspirational mentor and long-standing friend. Subsequent research projects during clinical school gave him opportunities to collaborate with groups from different faculties, both in Oxford and beyond, on projects ranging from simulating blood flow in the brain to examining social inequalities in health between different ethnic groups, as well as hospital performance and the value of services they provide. Through these experiences, his perspective on medicine and the role of physicians is now much broader.

Taking early opportunities to teach medical students demonstrated how much he enjoys student contact. Learning is a two-way process, and teaching is a brilliant way to increase your own confidence and understanding.

The AFP has given Imran the time and resources to develop both these interests: research and teaching. 

WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?

Being an Oxford AFP doctor means getting a balance of tough, high-exposure clinical jobs (anaesthetics, ICU, general medicine, A&E and paediatrics) with day release. This has enabled Imran to take on extra-curricular projects and gain his core competencies despite reduced clinical exposure. Other advantages of the programme are the networking and social events organised by OUCAGS and the funding provided to attend courses and conferences.

At the start of his first Foundation Year (FY1), Imran was appointed a College Lecturer in Medicine at Hertford College. Whilst fitting teaching duties in with other commitments can be challenging at times, teaching weekly tutorials has been much easier with day release during his dermatology and anaesthetics/ICU rotations.

Imran has developed his understanding of educational theory by undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education at the Oxford Learning Institute, and attending courses on research methods at Oxford University Computing.

As for the research side of the programme, Imran’s four-month research block in ophthalmology involves learning various molecular biology techniques to develop adeno-associated viral gene therapy vectors. Joining the lab has been a wonderful experience as the team welcomed him warmly. He has been able to learn several core molecular techniques and has had many chances to present his data at weekly group meetings.

Thanks to the thinking space afforded by the AFP, in collaboration with other doctors in Oxford, Imran has been able to develop a global health partnership (www.oxpal.org) with a medical school in the West Bank which delivers live tutorials in medicine and surgery to students who experience difficulty accessing their medical education.

Finally, to learn more about how healthcare systems are structured and funded, Imran attended the "Value-Based Healthcare" program at the Harvard Business School in Boston, in January 2013. 

WHY OXFORD?

A key reason for choosing Oxford was the ability to choose his own AFP project and his own supervisor – an opportunity which many other foundation schools do not afford. Imran found this particularly useful as, at the point of application for an AFP, he was not 100% sure about the project which he wanted to do.

It has worked out really well for him. He has been able to join a fantastic group in the specialty that he intends to pursue in the long term (ophthalmology) and learn a variety of core research skills.

However, choosing Oxford also has a disadvantage: there is simply so much going on in Oxford that it can be difficult to feel that you are making the most of it! 

WHAT’S NEXT?

Imran has been awarded a Fullbright scholarship to study for a Masters in Public Health (Healthcare Leadership and Management) at Harvard University, where he will study healthcare policy, leadership, management and outcomes measurement. Although he will be out of clinical medicine for one year, this opportunity is perfectly timed as it will not interrupt his clinical training in ophthalmology, and will enable him to tackle systems-level problems alongside his clinical training when he returns.


March 2013