ACF in Rheumatology
Dr Laura Watts
Pathway to an ACF position
Laura became interested in a research career during her undergraduate degree in Oxford, which included a research project in the area of genetics. Although she was considering a clinical academic career, Laura did not initially apply for the Academic Foundation Programme as she wanted to ensure that she developed confidence in her clinical skills first. Laura was delighted when she was accepted for a standalone academic F2 post in Oxford, where her interest in academic rheumatology began. From this she was able to successfully apply for the rheumatology ACF post.
What does the work involve?
The ACF in rheumatology consists initially of three years of core medical training, with the second year being purely focused on research and years one and three being clinical work. This dedicated research block really allowed you to get ‘stuck in’ working on a research project - in Laura’s case on the genetics of rheumatic diseases, both common and rare. Laura has been able to attend and present at laboratory meetings, attend departmental seminars and present her work at national and international conferences. She has also enjoyed being involved in medical student teaching, for clinical students at St Hugh’s College and first years at St Edmund Hall.
Laura says balancing research with clinical work, after the dedicated research time is complete, has been a challenge, but an exciting one.
Staying in Oxford for her ACF was a natural choice for Laura. From her experience as a student and an AFP doctor, she knew that the academic environment and support to trainees from OUCAGS would be fantastic. Having completed the AFP within the rheumatology department, Laura had already started to make the academic contacts which have helped during her ACF. Laura had also started teaching positions in Oxford during her AFP time, and was keen to continue with these. She also thinks Oxford is a lovely city to live in with good connections to London and elsewhere.
Being an ACF has provided Laura with great experience and has confirmed her desire for a combined clinical academic career. She feels supported with her research and has had the opportunity to present and attend several conferences. Laura will be applying for PhD projects in the future using the research she started during her ACF time.