Academic Foundation Programme (2019)
Pathway to an AFP position
I knew from an early stage of medical school that I wanted to apply for the Academic Foundation programme (AFP). From research experiences early on at medical school, I had seen first-hand the impact that research can have on changing clinical practice and improving outcomes for our patients. In addition, I knew that a detailed understanding of critical appraisal was vital for implementing evidence-based medicine into everyday clinical practice. I applied to the AFP in order to develop my skills and experience in both of these areas.
What does the work involve?
I had a wonderful AFP experience in Oxford. The Department of Dermatology at the Churchill Hospital gave me free reign to gain experience in research, teaching and clinical practice. I attended weekly clinics in the department to develop my knowledge. I also regularly taught seminars to fifth-year students on skin cancer, and I conducted a cross-specialty systematic review and primary explorative qualitative study which combined both dermatology and haematology. This research was awarded a £6000 research grant.
Whilst in Oxford, I was also able to become a member of the Oxford University Medical Education Fellows, and OUCAGS funded me to present posters at the annual British Association of Dermatologists conferences. I was also able to study for and pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam Step 2 during my time in Oxford.
I wanted to build upon the research experience that I had gained as a medical student, specifically by developing experience of qualitative research. I knew that I wanted to pursue dermatology as a career, and prior to applying I met with a potential supervisor at the Oxford Department of Dermatology, Dr Rubeta Matin. It was her passion for research which convinced me that I needed to apply to Oxford. Together, we were able to develop some really exciting projects during my two-year programme, and her support and mentorship meant a lot to me.
For me, the key advantage of the Oxford AFP is without doubt the freedom and time that you are given to develop your interests as a clinician scientist. The programme provided me with a dedicated four-month block of time in F2, alongside day release during an F1 rotation. During this time you have the freedom to find the right mentor and the right projects that will allow you to find your future academic path.
Coming from a medical school in another part of the country, I was also able to appreciate the Oxford difference – I was able to access funding and opportunities here that I would not have had elsewhere.
Thanks to the experience I gained in Oxford, I was able to accept a two-year fellowship at Stanford in California to conduct clinical trials in dermatology.