Dr Athanasios Tyraskis
Academic Foundation Programme (2015)
Pathway to an AFP position
As a medical student I quickly realised that I was eager to understand the basic science and clinical trials that shaped the medical management I was seeing in practice. I was involved with both laboratory and clinical research projects as a student and wanted to continue my research involvement as a trainee as well. This led me to pursue an Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) with dedicated research time.
What does the work involve?
As an Academic Foundation doctor I was given a weekly one-day release – in one rotation in my first year, and in two rotations in my second year. This design is ideal for clinical research, which may take longer to gather patients (but may be less efficient for lab-based projects). I focused my time on the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit as well as additional clinical research.
Beyond research, academic trainees have access to a great variety of courses throughout Oxford University, such as courses on statistical analysis, R programming, SPSS or STATA. This gives us the opportunity to add to our skills or dive deeper into particular interests.
Teaching is also a key component of our responsibilities as academic doctors. Although no formal teaching responsibilities are organised in advance, ample opportunity to get involved with medical students’ training is available for all those who are interested.
Oxford has a unique AFP which allows greater flexibility in designing and choosing one’s research project. I am an aspiring paediatric surgeon, and there were no AFP programmes which contained relevant research. Only Oxford allowed me to seek out a project within my field of interest, and I was able to get involved in projects in the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, in the field of paediatric surgery. Furthermore, Oxford University offers many courses which we are able to attend to increase our skills as clinical researchers.
Given the multitude of world-leading research teams, all aspiring academic doctors will find fascinating projects in Oxford.
My experience with the AFP has been completely positive. It has allowed me to gain significant research experience in my field of interest and has greatly boosted my chances of achieving my career goals in a highly competitive specialty. It allowed me to have time to develop skills in study design and data analysis, and deepen my statistical knowledge – which would otherwise be difficult with busy foundation jobs.
After a greatly productive AFP I was able to secure my next stage in training for an Academic Clinical Fellowship.