Dr George Hawker-Bond
Academic Foundation Programme (2023)
PATHWAY TO AN AFP POSITION
I obtained my master’s degree in Chemistry before embarking upon Graduate Entry Medicine and I have always wanted to utilise my skills in basic science research to support my medical training.
My Sleep Medicine specialist study module was the highlight of medical school. Not only is sleep implicated in every aspect of health and wellbeing, it is embedded into societal practice. I was compelled to conduct further research in the field.
The AFP affords the ability to combine clinical practice, research and education into all aspects of training – so it was a no brainer to apply!
WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?
My research project focussed on the use of low-density EEG during sleep in stroke patients to determine changes in microarchitecture that were implicated in memory formation. This involved extracting and interpreting data, but also troubleshooting getting a prototype wearable technology to use in at-home data collection.
I was warmly welcomed into the Neuroplasticity Group at WIN. I was involved in journal clubs, presenting my own work, and had the opportunity to attend seminars from world leading neuroscientists from around the globe.
Furthermore, I was able to engage in other research projects, including publishing two review articles: one for lateral flow diagnostics in an internationally renowned Chemistry journal, and another regarding the consent process for under-represented groups in clinic trials.
On top of this, I was regularly involved in teaching medical students both at the bedside (on rotations) and in traditional classroom settings. Other positive aspects of my Academic Foundation post have been:
- having OUCAGS as a dedicated hub for academic training which is supportive, helpful and unparalleled amongst AFP deaneries;
- the fact that the research potential in Oxford is wide-reaching and caters for all personal interests, and
- the clinical training really being exceptional.
There were also challenges. Namely, that of juggling multiple projects with clinical practice during day-release and managing the risk of isolation. Indeed, FY1 Academic Foundation rotations can leave you feeling isolated from colleagues as you tend to be the only FY1 (in my case in both Emergency Medicine and Gastroenterology).
Oxford’s reputation for combining clinical training with world-class research is unprecedented. It provides an excellent grounding in clinical training, with well-rounded clinical rotations that afforded day-release for academic training. The clinical training I have received has been exceptional across every rotation.
Oxford also nurtures your own skills and background to truly hone your own craft. I have been encouraged to utilise my knowledge as both a chemist and physician in my research and clinical practice.
Similarly, the wealth of knowledge in all areas of medicine and science make for a stimulating interdisciplinary environment.
The Academic Foundation experience at Oxford has solidified my desire to combine clinical practice with research training. I plan to apply for ACFs following my FY3 year as a teaching fellow.