I am currently an F2 doctor coming to the end of my AFP in Paediatrics at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. The structure of the academic training in Severn Foundation School is excellent, as well as having a 4 month academic block, we have 1 day of academic release during clinical placements in F2 to ensure we have time to complete our academic projects. We also received excellent academic and research methods training during the AFP, and I have no doubt that this helped me secure my next academic training post.
During my 4 month academic placement I undertook a laboratory project, looking at whether asymptomatic adolescents and young adults carry the organism Bordetella pertussis in their upper respiratory tract. During this time I learnt a lot of useful laboratory techniques and skills, as well as having the opportunity to manage my own project. I am due to present this work at the 2013 European Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases meeting in Milan.
During my 4 month academic placement I also did clinical work for 1 day a week and my trust were flexible enough for me to choose to do this in the children’s emergency department at Bristol Children’s Hospital, matching my learning and development needs. Not only did this help me retain and develop my skills, but it also allowed me to do the assessments required to complete the foundation programme.
When I complete my F2 year I am continuing my training in London as an Academic Clinical Fellow in Paediatrics. I am very grateful for the opportunities I was given during my AFP in Severn Foundation School, and I would not hesitate in recommending this programme to anyone looking to give their clinical academic training a head start.
I did the Academic Foundation Programme in Bristol 2010-2012. I've presented my project at a number of national and international conferences and I am in the process of submitting my paper to a journal. I learnt a number useful skills from doing the AFP, and particularly enjoyed the teaching I did as part of the programme. I was fortunate to become involved in teaching the Global Health intercalated BSc at the Universtiy of Bristol as well as teaching medical students in their clinical years.
Following on from this I decided to take a year out of clinical training to do an educational post, and have been working at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon this year as a Clinical Teaching Fellow. I have been completing a post-graduate certificate in medical education which I will be continuing to a diploma next year, and hopefully thereafter, a masters degree. From August, I have a core medical training post in London, and am currently considering a number of areas in medicine including geriatrics and palliative care. The AFP is a great opportunity, but it can at times feel isolating being separate from the clinical teams you have been used to working with. I found that close connections with the other AFP trainees were invaluable, as were the opportunities to be involved in clinical medicine through shifts on the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU).
AFP 2010-2012. Currently Core Surgical Trainee in the Wales Deanery - Unit: Centre for Surgical Research, MRC ConDuCT Hub, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol
I found the academic foundation programme to be an excellent, enjoyable and very formative experience. I worked with others on a project to develop a core outcome set for research and audit in reconstructive breast surgery. The purpose of the project is to identify a set of outcomes that patients and healthcare professionals feel should be measured as a minimum in all studies of reconstructive breast surgery. Once finalised, the core outcome set will improve the quality of information available to women making reconstructive choices (see link for further information: Comet Initiative).
As an AF2 doctor, I developed as a person, worked with a number of inspiring people and improved my scientific writing and presentation skills. Through active participation in the research process, I gained a strong understanding of research methodology through first-hand experience and obtained several publications and presentations. More importantly I also had an opportunity to work on a project that will make a difference in everyday clinical practice. If you are prepared to work hard, have a genuine interest in research or teaching and are able to rise to the challenge of balancing competing clinical and academic demands then I would commend the Severn Academic Foundation Programme to you. It is an excellent opportunity for all medical students looking for a taster or spring-board into academic medicine.
Trainee Comments from 2012-13
Overall feedback score 9/10 for programme quality.
“I could not have had better supervisors… I’ve had fantastic guidance through this project and learnt a great deal from them. I feel much more confident now in how to plan and conduct further research projects.”
“Brilliant opportunity to experience some time working in a lab…. Really exciting to be part of a very active and welcoming research group and has definitely made me want to do more research in the future.”
“10 – it was fantastic, stimulating. I feel lucky to have been part of it”
“…. and his team in the lab were awesome and invited me in as part of the lab family….. I have learnt a lot from this programme – the teaching sessions were excellent”
“I have learnt a huge amount about carrying out organised and scientifically valid research. I thought I had some baseline knowledge starting on this work, but soon realised I didn’t know much at all!”
“I think the way in which the Bristol AFP is structured is excellent, with 1 academic day during the clinical blocks.”
“I am particularly pleased that I had ownership of my own mini-project which I could take from conception to completion.”
“My colleagues who are undertaking an AFP in other regions of the UK are all envious of the opportunities I’ve had here in Bristol!”
“Excellent supervision and support on project. Found the research methods teaching programme very useful – good variety of topics covered.”
Trainee Comments from 2011-12
Overall feedback score 8/10 for programme quality.
“A great avenue into a future academic career.”
“The teaching program was excellent”
“Truly feel privileged to have had the opportunity … as an F2 so early in my career”
“excellent supervisors who ... were able to offer insightful advice regarding my career goals and what I wanted from the project”
“The faculties trust in the AF2’s to make good use of their research time and remain autonomous was exceptional.”