Dr Max Brzezicki
Academic Foundation Programme (2021)
Pathway to an AFP position
I always had a natural curiosity for how things work. I enjoy taking things apart and studying their underlying mechanisms. I was also genuinely interested in people: their biology, stories, and behaviour.
After my first degree, which had a medical engineering focus, I quickly realised I’d miss human interactions if I worked in a purely mechanical field. Thus, clinical medicine with an engineering academic track sounded like a good path for me. I did a lot of research during medical school and saw the benefits of mixing clinical and academic lives – AFP was a natural step forward.
What does the work involve?
I’m a naturally self-directed learner, and the Oxford AFP gave me the tools and flexibility to achieve my research plan. During the protected academic time, I attended teaching courses, research workshops and lab meetings. I designed and delivered a neurosurgical teaching programme for medical students, two QI projects, several book chapters, and papers. I also presented my findings during grand rounds, departmental meetings, and international conferences.
The library tools, connections to experts in the field and general enthusiasm of people I’ve met made this time very worthwhile. There’s always someone who knows a lot about a particular niche and can give you invaluable information and advice to streamline your research. Researchers and clinical lecturers at the University and hospitals are very supportive and allowed me a great deal of independence in projects and clinical work.
I feel my AFP gave me a solid ground to prepare for specialty training and higher academic training applications.
I chose Oxford because of access to: academic resources, networking, forums, £1000 traveling bursary, plenty of teaching opportunities, lots of courses in statistics, clinical research, teaching qualifications, and very supportive academic faculty and department (NDCN).
I studied here before and worked within the lab I was attached to during my medical school years. I knew that this was the best place to grow, broaden my interests, and develop lateral thinking. I could get involved in discussions on philosophy, engineering, AI, art, rare diseases, medical mysteries, and physics – sometimes all in one place!
What have been the pros and cons of the AFP?
- Invaluable tools, mentioned above.
- Very high-yield jobs with excellent opportunities for getting the clinical acumen up to speed early on.
- A great deal of independence, which allowed me to address particular CV aims, though this can be a drawback for someone who needs a bit more support and direction.
- Pay and missing out on more lucrative on-calls, although this can be good depending on your personality.
- There is less time to get competencies signed off and less exposure to sub-specialties.
- You’re expected to deliver results and have a higher bar for ST applications than someone with a standard FP.