(c) Image copyright Tjitske Kamphuis
Dr Soham Bandyopadhyay
Academic Foundation Programme (2022)
PATHWAY TO AN AFP POSITION
I was attracted to the AFP because it made it possible to:
- do research alongside clinical activity,
- continue working on my academic projects from medical school, and
- have time to support other medical students start their own research journey.
My interests in research lie in global surgery, health equity, medical education, and neuroscience. I knew the AFP would allow me time to explore each one and build my expertise on such a wide array of topics. Without the AFP, I may only have had time to pursue one of my supra-curricular interests.
WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?
Having a dedicated four months for research allowed me to maximise my clinical experience. When I was working on my clinical rotations, I could focus on fine-tuning my clinical skills and improving my clinical knowledge, without having to carve out time for research activities. This allowed me to be a more proficient clinician.
In addition, having dedicated research time allowed me to focus on a project with minimal distraction. This enabled me to take multiple research projects from conception to publication.
The protected time in the AFP also allowed me to maintain a work-life balance whilst:
- gaining a PGCert in medical education and a Masters in Public Health,
- planning meetings and building my research skills, and
- planning my career trajectory.
The flexibility offered by the Oxford AFP also allowed me to build skills in management, leadership, and teaching.
Due to COVID-19, there was a lack of face-to-face networking during my AFP. This is being actively worked on, and I really enjoyed the academic meal that enabled networking.
Clinically, Oxford has a reputation for good training. I wanted to acquire a broad range of skills under close supervision. This was achieved.
Academically, I wanted to work with Professor Kokila Lakhoo and the Oxford University Global Surgery Group. They have a reputation for being world leaders in the field of global surgery. I appreciated the flexibility of the Oxford AFP in allowing me to work with researchers internationally.
Management- and leadership-wise, Oxford offered me multiple opportunities to take on leadership positions and enact change. I appreciated what it taught me about the change management process and how to tactfully enact change.
The Oxford AFP offered me the opportunity to expand my skills, develop clinical skills needed to rank highly in national selection interviews, and conduct the research needed to obtain an ACF post in neurosurgery – my next post.