My route into academia was more fortuitous than pre-crafted- a combination of the encouragement from inspirational seniors and making the most of opportunities as they arose. I did an intercalated BSc at Imperial College which gave me the opportunity to do a clinical study. This was my first taste of academia and gave me a taste of presenting findings nationally.  

As a Foundation Year 2 trainee I worked in a busy district general hospital. Despite the workload, consultant-led teaching and encouragement of juniors to participate in service change was rife. I was asked to write up interesting cases, audit new processes and present findings locally, nationally and internationally. This was the pivotal moment for me, where I was able to proactively contribute to change. This instilled mindset stayed with me for life.  

Two years later, I applied for an Academic Clinical Fellowship for SpR training. I wasn’t confident in whether my application would be competitive enough but with encouragement from former consultants who believed in my ability, I gave it a shot. I was pleased to be awarded the ACF post in Northwest London. This gave me 3 months per year of dedicated research time within an internationally recognised laboratory.  I built upon my research skills, publications and scientific networks. I generated pilot data which I then used to apply for a Clinical Training Fellowship (ie a PhD) three years later. I was successfully awarded a Medical Research Council Clinical Research Training Fellowship weeks after giving birth to my second child.   

I am currently in my second year of my PhD doing a basic science project. It’s been an invaluable learning experience where I have been able to teach, learn, lead, defend my ideas, think creatively and present and field questions nationally and internationally. It has also given me the lifestyle to actually take up a hobby which would have been near impossible in clinical practice! Teaching is however, my passion and I am completing an application to the Higher Education Teaching Fellowship scheme which is a direct consequence of the opportunities that arose during my Research Fellowship. After I complete my PhD I will finish the remaining year of SpR training and hope to take up a consultant post in a hospital associated with a university where formal teaching within the medical school is a core component of the job.