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An Introduction to the Academic Foundation Programme

What is the Academic Foundation Programme?

The Academic Foundation Programme is parallel to the UK Foundation Training Programme (UKFP). AFP jobs make up about 5% of training posts available to newly qualified doctors. Academic programmes can be undertaken in one of three domains:

  1. Research

  2. Education

  3. Leadership and management

Of these options, research posts are the most common. Most hospital trusts offer them. Education and leadership posts are not available in every deanery. You can check what posts deaneries had last year on their individual websites.

Successful applicants will receive offers for posts on Wednesday the 13th of January 2021. All offers will be either accepted or declined on Oriel. If you do not receive an offer on this day, you will be entered into the AFP Cascade Offers round, which begins on the 20th of January 2021.

What are the benefits?

Academic jobs provide protected time for projects besides standard Foundation training time. In some posts, this protected time is spread across your FY2 year – for example, one day away from clinical work per week. In others, you will have one four-month FY2 rotation to focus 100% on your project.

Academic trainees will often have a lot of flexibility in what they can use their protected time for. The purpose is to develop skills in their chosen field, whatever they may be. This could include research techniques, preparing work for publication, or delivering teaching.

Often, projects worked on as part of an AFP will go on to be published. A published project is, of course, a great asset on your CV for specialty applications.

In many academic jobs, you can gain additional qualifications, such as postgraduate diplomas.

Academic jobs also allow you to network with clinicians, researchers and leaders that standard trainees may not meet. Again, this can help strengthen your future job prospects.

Academic trainees are often able to work in one hospital for the two years of their training, rather than the usual two or three. Staying put will appeal to people with families or other responsibilities that make moving a challenge.

Who should consider applying?

Consider an academic post if you have a strong interest and experience in one of the three domains. Have you been pursuing skills in research, education, or leadership and management?

You can usually prove your commitment to your discipline via extracurricular activities. If you want to make one of the three domains a significant part of your career, you are what they’re looking for.

How is the AFP application different from a normal UKFP application?

You apply through Oriel, as with the standard programme. You can apply for two AFP programmes (in addition to your standard Foundation application).

So far, so similar. As you’re in the process, however, you’ll find you need to submit more information. Most deaneries (except London), require you to answer white space questions.

Your answers to white space questions will read like the personal statement you submitted to university. You’ll be asked to describe your experience and other evidence of your aptitude for the post. They’ll usually have a tight word limit, so it’s worth practicing the skill of clear, succinct writing.

In most applications you can also record other educational achievements, such as:

  1. Papers published in peer-reviewed journals

  2. Work presented at conferences, be that oral or poster presentations

  3. Academic prizes

  4. Additional degrees

Each deanery has a slightly different application format. It’s worth checking the deanery websites carefully to understand what is expected of you.

Applicants who are successful at the written stage of applications will be invited for interview. All interviews for a certain deanery usually take place across one or two days at a central location. These dates and locations are often published on the deanery websites beforehand, so make sure you’re able to attend before you apply!

At least one of your interviews will consist of a clinical scenario. You will also go through a more ordinary interview station where you are asked about your previous experience and motivation for the job. Some programmes will also require you to critically appraise a paper in a third station.

AFP offers go live on Oriel on Wednesday the 13th of January 2021. There is then several weeks of cascade offers as people accept or reject their primary job offers.

It is important to remember that applying for an AFP does not affect a subsequent UKFP application. Applying for academic jobs and being unsuccessful in no way hurts your chances to get your next best preference. So, if you’re interested, go for it!

How can Medics.Academy help me apply for the AFP?

Medics.Academy is dedicated to improving healthcare education. Helping the coming generation of doctors to succeed is a big part of our vision.

One of the original HLA Scholars, Dr George Miller, created a course for the Medics.Academy platform to help you apply for the AFP. George’s AFP application was ranked in the top 10% nationally. With his training, you can strengthen your written application and better prepare for interviews.

About the Author

Anna Harvey is a final year medical student and Medics.Academy Fellow. She is interested in women’s health, education and journalism. You can find her tweeting about writing, music and running at @a_c_harvey

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