Edinburgh Clinical Academic Training

Supporting your career in research

Academic Foundation Years

Doctor looking into microscopeThe SE Scotland Academic Foundation Programme
The SE Scotland Academic Foundation Programme is to support trainees who wish to pursue a career in academic medicine. SE Scotland offers a number of Academic Foundation programmes. Details of the current Academic Foundation programmes can be found here. The programme aims to provide the environment and opportunities for Academic career development within the framework of Foundation training.

Why the South-East Scotland FY-A programme?
The programme provides academic development opportunities and mentoring combined with clinical confidence gained through the foundation curriculum. Being a clinical academic necessitates maintaining your clinical skills as well as undertaking research. We strongly believe that it is vital to gain as much clinical experience as possible during your Foundation Years and we therefore offer six clinical placements over the two years. We think this is a strength of our scheme – indeed our previous FY-As tell us that they applied to the South East Scotland because of the availability of these six clinical placements. However, we also want to offer you the very best opportunities to experience and participate in the world class research being done in Edinburgh and to work alongside clinical academics and scientists at the forefront of this research.

The Edinburgh Clinical Academic Track (ECAT) aims to provide research mentoring and support from medical school through to Senior Fellowship. The FY-A scheme is a part of this, aiming to provide you with the best start to an academic career. ECAT provides ongoing support in preparation for application for PhD studentships including those provided through the highly prestigious Wellcome Trust funded ECAT programme.

How does it work?
Year 1 – FY1s undertake three clinical placements in Lothian. Most rotations include a post within Edinburgh. We hold an introductory research day so you get to meet each other and find out a bit about the research going on here. Throughout this year you would be welcome to attend the formal research days for the FY2 year, if you are free.

Year 2 – Three placements, all of which will be in one of the Edinburgh Hospitals. The rotations are not pre-established but are instead individually constructed by the Foundation Programme Director taking account of the personal preferences of the foundation doctors, while ensuring a broad range of different specialties are experienced. Importantly, there is a substantial breadth of available speciality placements for FY2.

There is no specific block of research time, but all of the available FY2 placements are within academic units in Edinburgh. Trainees will therefore benefit from exposure to a high quality research culture throughout their second foundation year. During FY2, one day per month will be approved as an Academic Foundation Study Day which the FY2 trainee will identify in liaison with the local unit team (4 days per block). These Academic Foundation Study Days are supplemented by five academic meeting days held at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute across the FY2 year. During these days you have the opportunity to hear from and meet with a broad variety of senior clinical academics, followed by attendance at the informal Edinburgh Clinical Academic Track Research in Progress (ECATRIP) meetings which are attended by PhD students, clinical lecturers and more senior academics. The content of the academic days is flexible and takes into account the clinical and research interests of the FY2s each year and of requests from the attendees.

The FY-A programme allows you access to University of Edinburgh library and electronic resources via library card/ University of Edinburgh log in, allowing easy access to most clinical/biomedical science journals.

The Academic Foundation programme is heavily oversubscribed. Applicants with Foundation rotations in SE Scotland who were not successful in their application to the Academic programme can request a meeting to discuss mentoring, and are also encouraged to avail themselves of the academic development opportunities outlined.

We aim to make our support for your academic development as personalised as possible. At the start of year 1 you will be assigned a ‘senior’ mentor in your specialty of interest, usually following discussions with you about your specialty of interest. Our mentors have an extremely strong academic track record and are specifically chosen because they are particularly interested in supporting aspiring clinical academics. In addition to this we have a list of more ‘junior’ mentors from all specialties who can provide more ‘hands’ on support for diverse clinical and lab based projects.

Meeting other researchers and developing research ideas
There is a wealth of research expertise within the University of Edinburgh open to access by Academic Foundation doctors. We provide Academic Foundation doctors the opportunity to meet with senior clinical academics through academic meetings and courses.

1. Academic days for year 2 Academic Foundation doctors run on alternate months throughout the year on a range of topics relevant to a future academic career. These are partly tailored to the interest of the FY2 at the time but an example timetable is included here.

2. Edinburgh Clinical Academic Trainee Research in Progress (ECATRIP) meetings are a forum at which clinical researchers at various levels present their current research and explain the steps they take on to manage their research and career along the way. ECATRIP takes place on the last Wednesday afternoon of each month throughout each term (Find out more about ECATRIP here).

3. Masters Degrees and associated certificate courses. There are a number of these available at the University of Edinburgh and alumni are entitled to a 10% discount on fees for UofE courses. Information on available courses can be found here.

4. Edinburgh University Research Methodology Course: The objective of this two-day course is to provide a comprehensive overview of the current and future research tools and research frameworks required to perform cutting-edge basic science, translational and clinical research. The course consists of interactive lectures and opportunities for delegates to network with distinguished scientists, all of whom are recognised experts in their field. The course usually takes place in February each year and details can be found here.

5. The Edinburgh Critical Care Research Group has run a highly successful ‘Critical Care Research Methods Course’ over the past few years. While this is of particular relevance to those with an interest in critical care, anaesthesia, emergency medicine and acute medicine, there is also an emphasis on generic clinical research skills which would make this of interest to all.

Further information
All academic sessions and courses provide foundation doctors with the opportunity to informally meet with senior academics and gain understanding of research methodology, funding opportunities and career paths. Further information on the South East Academic Foundation Programme can be obtained from the Academic (S7) Foundation Programme Directors, Dr Steve Cunningham (steve.cunningham@nhs.net) for clinical information or Dr Mandy Drake (mandy.drake@ed.ac.uk) for research and mentoring information. Previous and current FY-A are also happy to speak to prospective applicants – for information please contact Mandy Drake.

Experiences of being an Academic F2

Steve Knight 2012-2014
I came up to Edinburgh for the Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) after graduating from Leicester University. I chose the South-East of Scotland because of the variety of rotations available in the AFP and the well renowned academic strength of many departments. Hopefully my experience, detailed below, will give you an idea of the opportunities available to you on the Academic Programme. Research: I met with my mentor early and was accommodated quickly into the academic unit and was able to write an abstract for an international conference within a few months – this focussed on renal replacement therapy in acute liver failure and its effect on post-transplantation survival. The project, giving me experience in Kaplain-Meier survival curves, multivariate analysis and simulation modelling, has now been submitted for publication and I have moved onto related projects with the same supervisor. Audit: Working in academically-focused units enabled me to design and conduct various audit projects with the support of academically-minded mentors. For example, my audit of transplant consent last year has resulted in the changing of the transplant consent process for the East of Scotland region and we are now looking to audit all of the UK Transplant Units consent process. Leadership/Management: During my FY2 year I was given the opportunity to become an Academic Foundation Programme Lead, charged with improving the Academic Foundation Programme for future years. This involved highlighting improvements to the programme suggested by the cohort and working with faculty to try to include these within the modified programme.
Projects: – Population-based analysis of factors indicating futility of renal replacement therapy in an elderly population with renal failure – Investigating the post-operative outcome of hip replacements at ten years – Population-based retrospective cohort study investigating effect of renal replacement therapy on survival following transplantation for acute liver failure.

Camilla Stewart 2012-2014
Edinburgh is a fun, inspirational city for young academics, with vast potential for research exploration in all kinds of specialties. As an aspiring plastic surgeon, I harnessed these opportunities to present and publish my work at international meetings from London to San Francisco, develop my clinical knowledge and skills through courses and exams at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, and teach at the Edinburgh National Student Trauma Conferences. Currently in the process of PhD grant application, I plan to continue my interest in adipose derived stem cells for the regeneration of bone and cartilage, and will be starting plastics themed Core Surgical Training in South East Scotland after FYA.  Beyond academia, Edinburgh exposed my creative flare, allowing me to exhibit art and photography at a professional level.

Clark Russell 2013-2015
As a South East of Scotland academic foundation trainee during 2013-2015, I was fortunate to benefit from the scheme in several ways. Through mentorship from clinical academics matched to my field of interest (infection) I was supported in establishing my own research projects, as well as having the opportunity to contribute to larger ongoing studies. This culminated in international and national presentations, as well as research publications. In addition, my understanding of the methods required for successful clinical research was improved by attending the Edinburgh Clinical Research Methodology course and the FY-A academic days. Finally, by including a full complement of six clinical rotations, the SE Scotland FY-A programme has provided me with the best possible start to medical training as well as numerous academic opportunities. Overall, the positive research atmosphere in which the academic foundation scheme in Edinburgh is placed has strongly contributed to my enthusiasm for pursuing a career in academic medicine.

Ian Young 2013-2015
Academic foundation training in Edinburgh has been enjoyable and rewarding. Professor Tim Walsh, as my mentor, has helped me begin planning a route into academic anaesthesia and critical care. FY-A provided me the right job in the right department to generate a meaningful project. This has led to a regional audit of intravenous fluid prescribing that has provided an evidence base for agreed policy change across Lothian. The academic programme also generated opportunity through contact with other FY-A’s. Working with a colleague over 18 months we took a research idea from conception to publication in the Journal of Hospital Infection. FY-A has provided me with excellent clinical attachments, career direction, three publications, and an ongoing body of work to take on to the next stage of training.


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