How to Get the Most out of Academic Training
Please note that from 2022 recruitment the Academic Foundation Programme will be known as the Specialised Foundation Programme (SFP).
Training the academic doctors of the future is a priority and the AFP provides a great opportunity to become more involved with medical research, education, management and much more. While the structure and content of the programmes may vary, all programmes will provide an opportunity to develop research, teaching and/or management and leadership skills.
Undertaking an AFP is like any project; the more effort put in, the more is achieved. Many foundation doctors who have completed AFPs, have ultimately published work and/or spoken at national and international conferences, whilst others have organised their own conferences to allow people to present and display work. The benefits arising from an AFP should not be underestimated; having protected time as part of the programme provides the ideal opportunity for a junior doctor to establish themselves, as a medical educator, researcher, leader/manager or an expert in any other area.
During the AFP it is paramount that transferable and documented skills are obtained and those on the programme should aim to publish a paper, present a poster and/or deliver an oral presentation. It is advisable to attend events related to an area of particular interest such as academic conferences and skills‐based seminars (e.g. workshops on how to perform critical appraisal etc.). These activities promote the development of key academic skills, facilitate networking opportunities and enable knowledge sharing. Conferences can provide guidance about specific areas within a broad area of interest that are attracting the most funding, and they can help create links between individuals and groups with similar interests. Such activities can enhance the impact of research, making discoveries known beyond the confines of the University and outside of your region. For foundation doctors, increasing their personal profile within a particular field is also beneficial for career development.
It is important to consider additional qualifications during the AFP. As part of some programmes, the local University may offer individual access to a number of additional qualifications which can be seen in the subsequent sections. For instance, trainee may participate in part‐time distance Masters Degrees and associated courses, although funding for these courses is not necessarily provided. Further qualifications can be challenging, but they are enjoyable and undoubtedly increase the chances of securing future jobs.
When undertaking the AFP, it is strongly recommended to get involved with the teaching of medical school students. Teaching is a highly important skill and can be very rewarding; in addition, it helps develop and maintain medical knowledge. Those undertaking an AFP should also make full use of their research opportunities and utilise available materials to support academic progression. There is a wealth of information, material and online resources available through the Universities, which can support academic progression.
Joining professional organisations is also an important step to consider during the AFP this enhances the foundation doctor’s personal profile and increases the chances of encountering like‐minded people who may be able to help identify new opportunities and share ideas. It also provides trainee the chance to benefit from advice and support from experts in a particular field.
Organisations that are useful to consider include specialty societies as well as the Academy of Medical Educators (AoME) and the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME). Those with an interest in medical management and leadership should consider the Faculty of Medical Management and Leadership (FMLM).
University Academic websites
Dundee Clinical Academic Track (DCAT)
Aberdeen Clinical Academic Track (ACAT)
Edinburgh Clinical Academic Training (ECAT)
Glasgow Clinical Academic Training (GCAT)