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ACADEMIC FOUNDATION PROGRAMME (2013)

PATHWAY TO AN AFP POSITION

Charis became interested in research during her undergraduate degree in Oxford, which was an intercalated degree in Infection and Immunity. Her project, under the supervision of Dr. Barnes, was on Hepatitis C genotype-3 genome differences between patients who relapse after treatment and those with a sustained response. After that, she took more opportunities to improve her research skills. She used her student-selected module to work on a systematic review, and she also interned at a physiology lab and took history and philosophy of science as a supplementary subject.  

By the end of medical school, Charis was positive that she wished to pursue a joint academic/clinical career. However, she did not apply straightaway to an academic programme in order to gain confidence in her clinical skills first. In Foundation Year 1 (FY1), as she was making good progress in her foundation programme, she applied and was accepted into the stand-alone FY2 academic programme available for Oxford FY1s.

WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?

Charis’ academic year includes four months working in an acute hospital setting (renal medicine at the Churchill Hospital), four months working in the community (at a GP surgery), and four months of dedicated research time. 

In addition to her clinical and research commitments, Charis has led a quality improvement project and participated in audits. She is also a member of the Oxford Foundation Symposium Committee, a platform for foundation trainees to present their work, and co-organised the first OFS National Conference for Foundation Doctors. 

Charis tutors the Brasenose College clinical students and is currently undertaking the training fellowship preparation to be accredited as a fellow of the Higher Education Authority. She is also a qualified ALS (advanced life support) instructor and teaches on the OUH trust ALS courses.

WHY OXFORD?

Specifically for junior doctors, there are excellent teaching opportunities, including the very accessible Teacher Development Programme, led by the Medical School. There are also opportunities to experience Medicine from a different perspective by participating in the Management in Medicine programme.  

All academic doctors are members of the University, meaning that they can participate in many University professional development courses, including improving useful skills such as in statistics, analysis and IT.

It is easy for new doctors to be overwhelmed by their clinical commitments, and it is essential to keep a healthy life-work balance. Oxford is a great place for that. The doctors’ mess is very active, and there are many sporting, musical and voluntary opportunities.  

WHAT’S NEXT?

It has been very enjoyable to be exposed to a completely different aspect of Medicine and experience translational research first-hand. The four months away from the wards have helped confirm that Charis wishes to pursue a joint clinical/academic career in the long term. She therefore decided to apply for, and was offered, an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) in Core Medicine (Gastroenterology) starting at the end of the AFP in Oxford. She has no doubt that the AFP was instrumental in helping her secure this post. 

In Charis’ opinion the main negative aspect of AFP is that four months is a short amount of time in the world of academia. It has been a challenge to find a project suitable to this period of time. Fortunately, she will have another nine months of dedicated research time next year in her ACF post, and she looks forward to returning to the lab then.

June 2013