ACF in Surgery - Plastic
Dr Jeremy Rodrigues (2015)
Pathway to an ACF
I always considered myself to be a scientist. Undergraduate medical education in Edinburgh had a strong slant towards research experience. I pursued an intercalated BSc in Experimental Pathology, which involved a lab-based project, and undertook a clinical project on my elective period at The University of Melbourne.
At postgraduate level, I have found research to be the most stimulating and intellectually challenging part of my job. My interest in an academic career was consolidated through the experiences of completing an MSc and my PhD research. My recently submitted thesis focussed on the validity and interpretability of outcome measurement in hand surgery, and pragmatic clinical trial design.
What does the work involve?
Plastic surgery is atypical, as plastics ACFs are appointed at ST3 level, rather than at ST1 level. I held a clinical registrar national training number in Yorkshire, but moved to this ACF post to develop an academic career.
Previously, I had completed a period out of programme and submitted a PhD thesis. Due to my situation, I sought to have academic time integrated into my weekly schedule, rather than longer blocks of time. This has been well supported and works well, as regular time allocation facilitates continuity in my research at post-doctoral level.
Becoming an ACF in Oxford has brought a range of opportunities. The programme provides a broad and immersive academic experience. At the same time, I feel well supported clinically and academically, and my career development is considered in an individualised manner. I should also mention that ACFs are funded to do Oxford’s Diploma in Health Research, and that, even though I have had some previous research training and experience, I have found this academic training very useful.
There are, of course, challenges. Plastic surgery is highly technically demanding. Clinical training requires a significant commitment, and combining this with academic training results in a large workload, if one strives to maintain high standards in both. The solution to this has been to extend my training with the aim of balancing a career as both a clinician and a scientist.
Oxford has a well-deserved reputation as a leading centre for research. I was aware of its position at the forefront of academic plastic surgery in the UK, and that the unit continues to develop further. Additionally, the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) has an established track record of high-quality work in clinical outcome measurement in musculoskeletal conditions. The combination of these factors made the decision to apply for this post very straightforward.