Dr Ilsa Haeusler
Academic Foundation Programme (2016)
Pathway to an AFP position
The importance of research was emphasised during my medical training and I undertook a small clinical trial during my undergraduate degree. I enjoyed the experience, in particular being able to combine research with patient interaction in a clinical trial. As I progressed through my FY1, my appreciation of the value of research and my understanding of its application deepened. I felt that the most valuable way to improve clinical outcomes is to combine clinical medicine with research. I therefore applied for one of the standalone FY2 AFP posts that Oxford offers and was successful.
What does the work involve?
The standalone FY2 AFP allowed me to undertake a dedicated 4-month research block. This was my first placement during FY2, so I continued working on my project throughout the rest of the year. I worked with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network at the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health. I undertook a systematic review looking into the cardiovascular side effects of antimalarial drugs. I had a fantastic time working on the project in a very supportive and inspiring group, and attended conferences and enjoyed the departmental meetings and seminars that were held regularly. I also took the Introduction to Medical Research: Essential Skills and UNICON Training the Trainer courses – just some of the vast number of opportunities available. I also got involved with tutoring a group of 4th and 6th year medical students, which was particularly rewarding.
It is certainly true that balancing a clinical and academic career is a challenge. It often feels there is not enough time for either, so prioritisation and time management are key skills. Combining research and clinical medicine allows flexibility, self-direction and creativity. The clinical and academic placements complement each other, and the variety offered by the AFP was something I appreciated very much.
I completed my medical degree in Oxford. I felt that it was an inspirational place to live and work, with world-class hospitals and research facilities. I wanted to continue to work with, and learn from, the doctors and researchers I had been trained by during medical school. In particular, I was very keen to work with the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health because they have an amazingly collaborative network of groups in Oxford, Asia and Africa.
The AFP has confirmed that I want to continue an academic clinical career. Next year, I plan to complete the Diploma in Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London and, following this, I will undertake an Improving Global Health Fellowship in South Africa.