Dr Taz Kadhum
Academic Foundation Programme (2019)
Pathway to an AFP position
What didn’t interest me about the AFP? I’ve always been interested in academia and having a programme that enables you to progress clinically, yet provides countless other skills, such as teaching, research, leadership and management, and so helps you develop into a much more rounded clinician.
Although there were multiple reasons for choosing the AFP, the opportunity to explore the world of academia with freedom clinched it for me! The Oxford AFP was second to none in providing this freedom, whilst integrating you into excellent training hospitals and world-renowned academic teams.
What does the work involve?
My allocated academic time was split across FY1 and FY2.
In FY1, I was given a weekly day release for academic work during my first placement.
Whilst in FY2, I had a full four-month block of research. This split worked well; during the day releases I was able to introduce myself to multiple research teams and delve into some of their research. It provided ample time to plan ahead for my own research block and to get necessary ethical approval and/or funding.
My research was based under two academic teams, those in global surgery and hand surgery. During my time in the AFP, I performed a lab-based biomechanical analysis of clubfoot, designed a trial protocol for an accelerated treatment model and ran global trauma educational courses in multiple countries across Africa and Asia.
The AFP was extremely beneficial, allowing me to develop my research, teaching, management and leadership skills. At the same time, I was able to progress clinically at the same rate as those in a conventional program. The AFP allows you to network and gain connections in multiple world-renowned academic teams and provides a supportive environment to develop your career ambitions.
However, the AFP does require excellent organisation skills and motivation. Balancing of clinical and academic duties is difficult and does take time getting used to. At times it may feel like a steep learning curve from medical school, but support is all around and definitely worthwhile.
Oxford was an obvious choice for me for a number of key reasons.
Firstly, it provides trainees with freedom to organise their own projects. Throughout medical school I was interested in multiple facets of clinical work and academia, and through the freedom of the Oxford AFP I was able to dedicate time to multiple research projects across global and plastic surgery.
In addition, the University has numerous research teams. As a prospective surgeon, I was attracted by departments such as the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMs), which are arguably the best in the world. The opportunity to integrate into these teams and to learn from world-renowned experts was too good to turn down!
The AFP has helped develop multiple skills and enhanced my CV, helping me to clinch surgical training in London from October 2019.