CL in Intensive Care Medicine
Dr Akshay Shah
PATHWAY TO A CLINICAL LECTURESHIP
I studied Medicine at the University of Nottingham, graduating in 2009, before moving to London to complete Foundation Training and core training in Anaesthesia. These early experiences helped develop an interest in clinical research.
I have since moved through the NIHR’s academic training pathway. In 2014, I started an NHIR Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) within NHS Blood & Transplant in Oxford, which ran alongside specialty training in Anaesthesia & Intensive Care. The ACF post provided me with a platform to secure an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship to undertake a DPhil (2017-2021), which led onto my current NIHR Clinical Lecturer post.
WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?
My supervisors and clinical training programme directors have been very supportive in allowing me to organise my working week with a 50:50 split:
- Monday and Tuesday – clinical work;
- Thursday and Friday – research work;
- Wednesday – alternating between clinical and research work.
This has suited the nature of my research and clinical specialties and allowed me to plan for periods of intensive research activity. In addition, I have also managed to achieve my required clinical competencies and contribute to regular undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.
Rewards and challenges
Life as a CL is hard work, but combining clinical medicine and research is stimulating, challenging, and ultimately rewarding.
My main research interests are in the haematological aspects of critical illness and perioperative medicine, using a range of methodologies. They include understanding coagulopathy in major surgery and using data to improve transfusion practice (cf. the NIHR/NHSBT Data Driven Transfusion Practice research unit).
The protected time offered by the CL post has provided me with an opportunity to start developing my own research agenda and acquire the necessary research methodology training. Also, integration with the University of Oxford Medical School and Medical Sciences Division provides opportunities to teach medical students and supervise research projects.
However, juggling clinical work, training commitments (e.g. exams), research and family life can be tricky. Balancing clinical and training commitments with research activity can be hard work as expectations are high on both fronts. Left unchecked, work can creep in and suck up all one’s free time. Taking on research also reduces your salary.
Good time management, organisation and effective communication definitely help!
I first moved to Oxford in 2014 and since then have benefitted from the excellent research environment. My DPhil benefitted immensely from the highly collaborative and supportive environment between various departments in Oxford (RDM, NHSBT and the MRC WIMM). Working with many different researchers and scientists has allowed me, as a clinician, to learn about basic science methods, systematic reviews, observational research and clinical trials. Staying in Oxford as a CL after my DPhil has provided continuity of clinical training, but also permitted me to build on the work arising from my doctorate.