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Last year I took a year out from clinical training in the UK to work in the department of physiology at the University of Auckland. I had finished my Foundation Year 2 (PGY2 in New Zealand terms), and I needed a change. I had become frustrated with the day-to-day grind of hospital medicine, and felt like I'd spent 2 years just taking blood and writing discharge summaries. It's fair to say my medical career wasn't turning out how I'd hoped.I had however always loved research. Throughout the pre-clinical years at medical school I was just as fascinated by the basic science of disease as clinical signs, and in the clinical years involvement in several research projects made me realise I was as happy writing an abstract as examining an abdomen. The problem was that I had never spent a prolonged period of time in research. Would I enjoy it? Would I be good at it? Could I afford the pay cut?My year in Auckland was fantastic. The intellectual stimulation, variety and autonomy of the position were superb. I loved the domain of research, feeling as comfortable in the lab as on the ward. But how would I take this forward as a career, especially if I stayed in New Zealand? There was/is no clear training programme, with academics having to carve their own career paths.Back in the UK, things were different. In 2004, in response to the dwindling number of medical academics, the government created the UK Clinical Research Collaboration1 . They identified the main issues faced by academic trainees as being the lack of clear entry route into academia and the lack of flexibility in the balance between clinical and academic time, and introduced integrated academic clinical training programmes.After my return to the UK for Christmas, I had the good fortune to be successful in gaining such an integrated post - an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF), which I started last august. These posts are designed for PGY3-4 doctors prior to becoming specialty registrars. The post provides a 75%-25% split of my time between clinical training and academia, and maintains my clinical salary. My deanery (equivalent to district health board) provide formal training in clinical research through a post graduate diploma, together with assisting in the search for a suitable academic supervisor/s with whom to develop research projects. After 2-3 years, the goal is to undertake a PhD. Following the PhD, you return to the clinical training programme. At present the UK offers approximately 300 of these posts across all clinical specialties each year, with trainees engaging in research domains from molecular genetics to hospital management.But is there really a need for such a programme in New Zealand? New Zealand, like most countries, has not been exempt from the international decline in numbers of medical academics. This is not inevitable. Research is obviously enjoyed by medical students in New Zealand, and a recent study in Auckland showed that 35% wished to be involved in research throughout their career2; very promising numbers. Limiting and aversive factors include the disparity in pay between academics and non-academics and difficulties in protecting research time 2. I venture to suggest that a programmes such as ACF, which protect pay and provide time to explore research opportunities, would prove popular in New Zealand.The question then is really, do such initiatives work? The UK is only beginning to produce its first crop of consultants/senior lecturers from their programme, so data are limited. Internationally, whilst support is high for similar programmes, overall satisfaction and productivity varies, and the attributes of what makes certain candidates and training programmes successful is unclear.3My personal experience is that having support and supervision at this stage of my career has enabled me to achieve far more than I would without the programme. I don't have to jump straight in to a PhD in an unfamiliar topic with a supervisor I barely know. The dedicated time enables me to develop an interesting, varied and scientifically robust portfolio with which to secure funding and develop over coming years. However, the negative aspects are that trying to balance increasing clinical training demands in 75% of the time, whilst also trying to progress in research often leaves me wondering whether I'm jack of all trades and master of none.On the whole, despite these uncertainties, I would advocate such a training programme in New Zealand. In Auckland I met several gifted medical students and junior doctors who wished to pursue an academic career but didn't know where to turn. In my opinion, integrated training in selected centres may therefore be able to provide them with the academic training they desire, and New Zealand with the academics it needs. Michael Keogh NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow Newcastle University, UK

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Michael Keogh, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, Newcastle University, UK

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Modernising Medical Careers and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration. Medically- and dentally-qualified academic staff: Recommendations for training the researchers and educators of the future . 30 March 2005.www.ukcrc.org/PDF/Medically_and_Dentally-qualified_Academic_Staff_Report.pdfPark SJ, McGhee CN, Sherwin T. Medical students' attitudes towards research and a career in research: an Auckland, New Zealand study. N Z Med J. 2010 Sep 24;123(1323):34-42. http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/123-1323/4359/content.pdfAcademic training schemes reviewed: implications for the future development of our researchers and educators. John Roger Barton. Medical Education 2008;42:164-169.

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contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

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Last year I took a year out from clinical training in the UK to work in the department of physiology at the University of Auckland. I had finished my Foundation Year 2 (PGY2 in New Zealand terms), and I needed a change. I had become frustrated with the day-to-day grind of hospital medicine, and felt like I'd spent 2 years just taking blood and writing discharge summaries. It's fair to say my medical career wasn't turning out how I'd hoped.I had however always loved research. Throughout the pre-clinical years at medical school I was just as fascinated by the basic science of disease as clinical signs, and in the clinical years involvement in several research projects made me realise I was as happy writing an abstract as examining an abdomen. The problem was that I had never spent a prolonged period of time in research. Would I enjoy it? Would I be good at it? Could I afford the pay cut?My year in Auckland was fantastic. The intellectual stimulation, variety and autonomy of the position were superb. I loved the domain of research, feeling as comfortable in the lab as on the ward. But how would I take this forward as a career, especially if I stayed in New Zealand? There was/is no clear training programme, with academics having to carve their own career paths.Back in the UK, things were different. In 2004, in response to the dwindling number of medical academics, the government created the UK Clinical Research Collaboration1 . They identified the main issues faced by academic trainees as being the lack of clear entry route into academia and the lack of flexibility in the balance between clinical and academic time, and introduced integrated academic clinical training programmes.After my return to the UK for Christmas, I had the good fortune to be successful in gaining such an integrated post - an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF), which I started last august. These posts are designed for PGY3-4 doctors prior to becoming specialty registrars. The post provides a 75%-25% split of my time between clinical training and academia, and maintains my clinical salary. My deanery (equivalent to district health board) provide formal training in clinical research through a post graduate diploma, together with assisting in the search for a suitable academic supervisor/s with whom to develop research projects. After 2-3 years, the goal is to undertake a PhD. Following the PhD, you return to the clinical training programme. At present the UK offers approximately 300 of these posts across all clinical specialties each year, with trainees engaging in research domains from molecular genetics to hospital management.But is there really a need for such a programme in New Zealand? New Zealand, like most countries, has not been exempt from the international decline in numbers of medical academics. This is not inevitable. Research is obviously enjoyed by medical students in New Zealand, and a recent study in Auckland showed that 35% wished to be involved in research throughout their career2; very promising numbers. Limiting and aversive factors include the disparity in pay between academics and non-academics and difficulties in protecting research time 2. I venture to suggest that a programmes such as ACF, which protect pay and provide time to explore research opportunities, would prove popular in New Zealand.The question then is really, do such initiatives work? The UK is only beginning to produce its first crop of consultants/senior lecturers from their programme, so data are limited. Internationally, whilst support is high for similar programmes, overall satisfaction and productivity varies, and the attributes of what makes certain candidates and training programmes successful is unclear.3My personal experience is that having support and supervision at this stage of my career has enabled me to achieve far more than I would without the programme. I don't have to jump straight in to a PhD in an unfamiliar topic with a supervisor I barely know. The dedicated time enables me to develop an interesting, varied and scientifically robust portfolio with which to secure funding and develop over coming years. However, the negative aspects are that trying to balance increasing clinical training demands in 75% of the time, whilst also trying to progress in research often leaves me wondering whether I'm jack of all trades and master of none.On the whole, despite these uncertainties, I would advocate such a training programme in New Zealand. In Auckland I met several gifted medical students and junior doctors who wished to pursue an academic career but didn't know where to turn. In my opinion, integrated training in selected centres may therefore be able to provide them with the academic training they desire, and New Zealand with the academics it needs. Michael Keogh NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow Newcastle University, UK

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Michael Keogh, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, Newcastle University, UK

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Modernising Medical Careers and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration. Medically- and dentally-qualified academic staff: Recommendations for training the researchers and educators of the future . 30 March 2005.www.ukcrc.org/PDF/Medically_and_Dentally-qualified_Academic_Staff_Report.pdfPark SJ, McGhee CN, Sherwin T. Medical students' attitudes towards research and a career in research: an Auckland, New Zealand study. N Z Med J. 2010 Sep 24;123(1323):34-42. http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/123-1323/4359/content.pdfAcademic training schemes reviewed: implications for the future development of our researchers and educators. John Roger Barton. Medical Education 2008;42:164-169.

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

Last year I took a year out from clinical training in the UK to work in the department of physiology at the University of Auckland. I had finished my Foundation Year 2 (PGY2 in New Zealand terms), and I needed a change. I had become frustrated with the day-to-day grind of hospital medicine, and felt like I'd spent 2 years just taking blood and writing discharge summaries. It's fair to say my medical career wasn't turning out how I'd hoped.I had however always loved research. Throughout the pre-clinical years at medical school I was just as fascinated by the basic science of disease as clinical signs, and in the clinical years involvement in several research projects made me realise I was as happy writing an abstract as examining an abdomen. The problem was that I had never spent a prolonged period of time in research. Would I enjoy it? Would I be good at it? Could I afford the pay cut?My year in Auckland was fantastic. The intellectual stimulation, variety and autonomy of the position were superb. I loved the domain of research, feeling as comfortable in the lab as on the ward. But how would I take this forward as a career, especially if I stayed in New Zealand? There was/is no clear training programme, with academics having to carve their own career paths.Back in the UK, things were different. In 2004, in response to the dwindling number of medical academics, the government created the UK Clinical Research Collaboration1 . They identified the main issues faced by academic trainees as being the lack of clear entry route into academia and the lack of flexibility in the balance between clinical and academic time, and introduced integrated academic clinical training programmes.After my return to the UK for Christmas, I had the good fortune to be successful in gaining such an integrated post - an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF), which I started last august. These posts are designed for PGY3-4 doctors prior to becoming specialty registrars. The post provides a 75%-25% split of my time between clinical training and academia, and maintains my clinical salary. My deanery (equivalent to district health board) provide formal training in clinical research through a post graduate diploma, together with assisting in the search for a suitable academic supervisor/s with whom to develop research projects. After 2-3 years, the goal is to undertake a PhD. Following the PhD, you return to the clinical training programme. At present the UK offers approximately 300 of these posts across all clinical specialties each year, with trainees engaging in research domains from molecular genetics to hospital management.But is there really a need for such a programme in New Zealand? New Zealand, like most countries, has not been exempt from the international decline in numbers of medical academics. This is not inevitable. Research is obviously enjoyed by medical students in New Zealand, and a recent study in Auckland showed that 35% wished to be involved in research throughout their career2; very promising numbers. Limiting and aversive factors include the disparity in pay between academics and non-academics and difficulties in protecting research time 2. I venture to suggest that a programmes such as ACF, which protect pay and provide time to explore research opportunities, would prove popular in New Zealand.The question then is really, do such initiatives work? The UK is only beginning to produce its first crop of consultants/senior lecturers from their programme, so data are limited. Internationally, whilst support is high for similar programmes, overall satisfaction and productivity varies, and the attributes of what makes certain candidates and training programmes successful is unclear.3My personal experience is that having support and supervision at this stage of my career has enabled me to achieve far more than I would without the programme. I don't have to jump straight in to a PhD in an unfamiliar topic with a supervisor I barely know. The dedicated time enables me to develop an interesting, varied and scientifically robust portfolio with which to secure funding and develop over coming years. However, the negative aspects are that trying to balance increasing clinical training demands in 75% of the time, whilst also trying to progress in research often leaves me wondering whether I'm jack of all trades and master of none.On the whole, despite these uncertainties, I would advocate such a training programme in New Zealand. In Auckland I met several gifted medical students and junior doctors who wished to pursue an academic career but didn't know where to turn. In my opinion, integrated training in selected centres may therefore be able to provide them with the academic training they desire, and New Zealand with the academics it needs. Michael Keogh NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow Newcastle University, UK

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Michael Keogh, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, Newcastle University, UK

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Modernising Medical Careers and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration. Medically- and dentally-qualified academic staff: Recommendations for training the researchers and educators of the future . 30 March 2005.www.ukcrc.org/PDF/Medically_and_Dentally-qualified_Academic_Staff_Report.pdfPark SJ, McGhee CN, Sherwin T. Medical students' attitudes towards research and a career in research: an Auckland, New Zealand study. N Z Med J. 2010 Sep 24;123(1323):34-42. http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/123-1323/4359/content.pdfAcademic training schemes reviewed: implications for the future development of our researchers and educators. John Roger Barton. Medical Education 2008;42:164-169.

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