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Dr Rachel Brettell, ACF in General Practice

Dr Nicholas Jones, ACF in General Practice  


ACF in General Practice

Dr Cathy Scott

Pathway to an ACF position

With a background in genetics (BSc) and epidemiology (Msc) prior to studying graduate-entry medicine, I was always keen to stay involved in research alongside clinical work. The Academic Foundation programme and ACF have enabled me to do this. 

What does the work involve?

I have really enjoyed combining clinical and academic GP training. As I have timed this with having 3 children, I have done various combinations of full- and part-time clinical and academic work! 

I became interested in stroke in the young after performing a nationwide study of stroke in pregnancy during my Academic Foundation programme. I was encouraged (in an OUCAGS appraisal!) to approach Peter Rothwell in the Stroke Prevention Unit. We have been studying trends in stroke and stroke risk factors at younger ages, and comparing this with the temporal trends at older age groups, both in a local study (OxVasc) and through a systematic review of the literature.

In terms of research training I found the systematic review and randomised control trials modules from the University’s Department for Continuing Education incredibly well taught and useful. I have also attended a fantastic “publication school” with the Equator Network, as well as a number of IT, writing, searching, and career development workshops through the University, and the OUCAGS and departmental seminars. I have also had the opportunity to present at national and international conferences.

Although the program has been flexible to my needs out of work (maternity leave, part-time work) and provided fantastic research training, there can be challenges. Clinical colleagues can understandably be frustrated by those of us doing research while they are “on the front-line”. Also, being a part-time GP isn’t particularly good for patients who need continuity of care, and combining research, clinical work, and caring responsibilities at home can feel like there are a lot of balls in the air. 


Oxford is a fantastic place for primary care research. The libraries, courses and resources available are invaluable. Furthermore, OUCAGS gives ACFs an opportunity to stay in touch with research in other specialties as well as offering tremendous support, advice and information. Oxford is also a good place for GP training and is where I have family and friends; if it were closer to the sea it would tick all the boxes! 

February 2018