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ACF in Respiratory Medicine

Dr Ahmed Yousuf

Pathway to an ACF position

During my third year of medical school at Leicester University, I undertook an intercalated BSc research project. It was a laboratory-based project that looked into the link between diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. I attended several local and international conferences and presented my research findings. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of working with a group of exceptionally intelligent people who were very keen and driven to further the cause of science and make a difference. Their enthusiasm, drive and love of science inspired me to seek a career in academic medicine. When I found out about an academic post in respiratory medicine at Oxford, I  applied for it and luckily got appointed. 

What does the work involve?

Unlike the majority of ACF colleagues who started their academic career at Year 2 of Foundation Stage (FY2), I was a relatively late starter. I took up the post at ST3 level. After discussion with my academic supervisor and my training programme director (TPD), we agreed that I will start a 9-month research project in pleural disease in my second year as an ACF. The aim will be to gather enough data to be able to present at national and/or international meetings, and to publish articles to help with a funding application for higher degree (i.e. PhD or MD).   

In Oxford we also undertake a diploma course in health research as part of the ACF programme. The course is run by Oxford University and covers health research-related topics. The modules are popular and students from as far away as Australia, Africa, Middle East and Asia attend the classes.   

One disadvantage of being an ACF is that taking time off to attend certain courses or research-related activities can be difficult given that you will have the same study leave entitlement as your non-academic colleagues. However, doing an ACF has numerous advantages. It is intellectually challenging, exposes trainees to research early in their training pathway, and paves the way to obtaining higher degrees. 

After one year as an ACF I would like to think that I have become a better clinician and more confident in critically appraising literature to answer specific clinical questions, and that it has strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in academic medicine. 

Why Oxford?

There were several reasons for choosing Oxford. It has an enviable reputation for research and academia globally. I can't think of anywhere better than Oxford to take my first steps towards academia. Pleural research, led by Dr Naj Rahman, at Oxford is second to none. The research findings in the unit are informing national and international practices and guidelines. 
The staff at OUCAGS, in particular Prof Pugh and Dr Denise Best, are very supportive and approachable. Last but not least, the annual OUCAGS dinner always attract world-renowned speakers followed by a networking dinner. So, if you want great academic environment, world-renowned research groups, and networking opportunities, then Oxford is the place to come.  

October 2014