ACF in Psychiatry
Dr Tessa Lomax
PATHWAY TO AN ACF POSITION
At medical school, I enjoyed getting involved in research projects and I wanted to keep this interest up during my clinical training. I like research as I feel it gives me a space to think outside the box and creatively. I also find it exciting, being part of a community aiming to push science on. I very much enjoy my clinical work as a psychiatry trainee, but I feel the set-aside time for research as part of the ACF gives me the opportunity to develop both interests. I also feel you learn different things from research and clinical work that complement each other.
WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?
People on different ACFs use their time differently, but overall our time is split with 25% spent on research. In my case, in all of my Core Training Year 1 (CT1), I spent 1 day a week doing research. In 6 months of my CT2, I will also spend 1 day a week doing research and then, in CT3, I will have a 5-month block of pure research.
There are many advantages to an ACF post:
- dedicated time to do research,
- support systems to help develop academic skills (OUCAGS, Continuing Education’s PG Dip/Cert in Health Research, training opportunities and lectures),
- the opportunity to network with other clinical academics, and
- time to develop other aspects of your career other than clinical work.
Sometimes it can be tricky balancing clinical and research time. However, the department is very supportive if you have any concerns around this. For example, I felt I would benefit from taking some research time in CT2 and reducing my research block in CT3 and they have been supportive in making this work for me.
As well as developing a research interest and project, I have also used my research time to work on the Postgraduate Certificate in Health Research that is funded as part of the ACF. I have also got involved in:
- tutoring 5th Year medical students,
- attending and presenting at journal clubs,
- attending exciting talks from leaders in their field,
- undertaking further research skills training with the EQUATOR network group,
- attending OUCAGS forums, and
- networking at academic dinners.
There are so many opportunities presented to you from being an ACF!
My first experience of the psychiatry academic department at Oxford was when I attended the Psychiatry Autumn School for medical students. I was in my 4th year as a medical student at Cardiff Medical School and was blown away by the department and also the beauty of Oxford!
Oxford is a very exciting place to be, where you are surrounded by academics often leading their field. The quality of teaching and talks have been excellent, both in my clinical and my academic training.
On a personal note, Oxford is closer to home for me and I love the beauty and greenness of the city. I also found it the most friendly and welcoming place from my ACF interviews.
I hope in the future to undertake a PhD.