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Written by Dr Cassie Brewer

Life as an academic foundation doctor

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doctor
career
4 min read
Female medical student smiling

Life as an Academic Foundation Year One Doctor was essentially no different to any other F1 year. I rotated every four months, I worked nights and weekends and there was no 'Academic' aspect to my work. But once I entered Foundation Year 2, everything became a little alien to me.

Suddenly I was balancing an Acute Medicine job, running simulation sessions, preparing projects and posters, and all whilst working towards a Post-Graduate Certificate in Clinical Education. I no longer worked nights or weekends, but I quickly learnt that I had a lot of plates to spin. However, the Specialised Foundation Programme is fantastic and I could not recommend it enough!

So what does a typical 'Academic' working week look like? Here is an overview of my week as an Academic Foundation Year Two Doctor.

Monday

Today was a University day. I was up bright and early ready for my 9am webinar for my PGCert. This was a two-hour online workshop about 'Workplace Based Assessments' and the differences between doctor Capability and Competency.

I was given several papers to read over the course of the week and my next assignment task was outlined to me - a 2500 word literature review on an aspect of 'Assessments' that I am interested in. 

After the webinar, I went for a walk on the beach and grabbed a coffee at a café where I made a start reading through and highlighting some of the recommended reading papers.

My afternoon was spent preparing a poster which has been accepted into a national medical education conference. Then it was suddenly the evening and time for a movie and macaroni cheese!

Tuesday

I spent the day working at the hospital in the Same Day Medical Assessment Unit. It was a relatively busy day clerking new medical patients. I stayed in the library for an hour after work to get a little more of the recommended reading done before heading to the gym for an hour and relaxing for the evening.

Wednesday

Every Wednesday is my 'Academic Day'. I spend this day working with the hospital's simulation team. Today we started with a two hour Obstetric Anaesthesia Simulation for Anaesthetics Core Trainees.

My colleague and I then had a couple of hours to work on our Quality Improvement Project about barriers to Foundation Doctors simulation teaching before preparing for our afternoon Emergency Department simulation about paediatric sedation.

Following a successful simulation, I began to plan out my PgCert essay in the library. Myself and a couple of friends then met for a post-work drink and catch up.

Thursday

Another day working on the Same Day Medical Assessment Unit. I got to work an hour early to work on my essay with a coffee. I find an hour at the start or the end of the day helps to keep my evenings free.

I managed to get a Case Based Discussion done with one of the consultants and successfully did a lumbar puncture which was one of my goals. I spent the evening at a dance class before dinner and an early night.

Friday

I had a study day today to attend an online course about palliative care. I could do this from the comfort of my own home, but it was surprisingly tiring.

I didn't manage to do any work on my essay or any reading but logged the teaching hours on my ePortfolio. I never work on a Friday evening so I met some friends for a beach barbeque.

Saturday

I woke up early today so I could finish my recommended reading for the week and double check my poster, which I managed to submit to the conference. My partner and I then loaded up our van and set off to Dartmoor for some hiking and camping.

Sunday

I had a wonderful time on the moors and got back in time for a family roast dinner this evening. I logged onto the computer to print off the recommended reading for next week's part of the PGCert and organise myself ready for the week ahead.

As you can see, the Academic role is varied. I personally love the variety. Although I do not work out of hours, it certainly takes a good level of organisation to get everything done and keep on top of the university work. This does occasionally cut into my evenings and weekends. However, I find I am excited and enthusiastic about my job because I don't get bored.

So would I recommend the programme? Absolutely yes. Is it a challenge at times? Definitely.

The key is to plan your week and set aside time to have fun in the evenings and at the weekend. There are so many opportunities in academic life which means it is easy to take on too much and become overwhelmed. However my portfolio has blossomed since starting the programme and I truly believe everyone should consider applying.