Academic Clinical Fellow
My route to the HCRI as an Academic Clinical Fellow was slightly serendipitous. I had taken a year out of training following my foundation years as a junior doctor and was studying for a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. I came across the option of applying for an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) in Emergency Medicine in the North West region (offering an extra year between my clinical training for pure research). Having done Academic Foundation training (which gave me a little research time during my first clinical years), I was considering the idea of doing more research, however preferred this to be oriented toward global health. I contacted the team offering the ACF and asked about this and they advised that, were I to be successful in applying for the ACF, I would be able to focus on global health if I had the right supervisor. They pointed me in the direction of Tony Redmond (Professor of International Emergency Medicine), suggesting I discussed potential projects. When I got in touch, as luck would have it, Tony was delivering a session for my Diploma that following week and therefore we were able to meet in person fairly quickly. We discussed a few ideas and agreed that there would be lots to build on. Fortunately I was successful in getting the ACF post and so started planning for the research year, commencing with a part-time Masters in Public Health with Global Health and Emergency Humanitarian Assistance (MPH (GH+EHA)).
Over the couple of years leading up to the research year we met to discuss ideas for a 1 year focus and I started to understand the field of humanitarian medicine a little better by attending various lectures, workshops and conferences where possible in and around clinical training. The topic of medical record-keeping by EMTs in sudden onset disasters developed somewhat organically because all of the research ideas we discussed until that point concluded with “this will be difficult because the data isn’t very good…”. Therefore it seemed a good place to start looking at the source of the “data”. Contextually this was timely because the international community and WHO in particular were digesting the after-effects of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and concluding that the ways in which EMTs work needed to change and standards were needed to facilitate this. Subsequently several of the core standards became about record keeping and reporting.
I started my ACF research year in 2013 with a plan to complete my MPH (GH+EHA), to get more involved in the way HCRI works and to complete a literature review on the way medical records are kept by EMTs in sudden onset disasters. Through the year I did some academic advising for a BSc programme, co-supervised a Year 4 medical student project option and wrote some material for an online Global Health diploma. I had the opportunity to present locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. I was co-supervised by Professor Fiona Lecky (CURE/TARN) and therefore the three of us spent some time discussing how the work would develop into a PhD project. We identified some funding opportunities and did some background preparatory work which put me in a good position to be ready for applying for funding during the following year when I would be back in full-time clinical training. This preparation did eventually pay off, although I was unsuccessful in my first couple of applications, the year had prepared me well enough to be ready and able to balance the process of multiple applications and interviews, firstly with clinical work and then later with a very small baby!