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Dr Donald Waters

Academic Foundation Programme (2016)

Pathway to an AFP position

My first research experience was during an intercalated degree at medical school. My dissertation in international public health policy involved looking at disease epidemiology in Sub-Saharan Africa. I really enjoyed the feeling of working creatively to solve important problems, and was keen to continue this during foundation training, if possible. I wasn’t completely sure that I wanted to pursue a clinical academic career, but wanted to explore the possibilities further, and was also attracted to the additional diversity as part of foundation training offered by the AFP.

What does the work involve?

I did clinical rotations in orthogeriatrics/surgical emergencies, dermatology, general medicine, trauma & orthopaedics, general practice and emergency medicine. I then had a 4-month standalone research block, in addition to weekly academic day release on dermatology and general practice. This generous allocation of research time was brilliant, and meant I could really take time to find the right supervisor/project (absolutely key!), and invest enough in a project to get a lot out of it.

However I also managed to fit some other experiences into my time in Oxford. One highlight was tutoring a group of medical students through their first year of clinical medicine. It was a great way of developing teaching experience, including attending a formal ‘train the trainers’ course, but also really fun, and a good way to become a bit more part of the University.


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Why Oxford?

My research interest (global health) is not a typical mainstream clinical academic area, and I was really attracted by the flexibility of the Oxford programme, along with the exciting global health research being conducted by several different groups in Oxford. Obviously Oxford also has a fantastic reputation for clinical medicine, and I hoped that it would be a great place to develop as a doctor, as well as gain research experience. Thankfully this turned out to be absolutely correct, and Oxford is a brilliant place to grow as both a clinician and an academic.

One of the best things about the AFP in Oxford is OUCAGS, who are incredibly supportive. The amount of flexibility is amazing, and you really feel that they will do everything they can to help you get as much as possible out of the AFP. One possible limitation is that even four months is not very long in research, and you need to work hard to achieve meaningful results, whilst still balancing clinical commitments. I would recommend the Oxford AFP to anyone, and hope in the future to continue developing as a clinical academic, largely motivated by my experiences in Oxford.