Journal of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh
Darbyshire D, Baker P, Agius S, McAleer S.
The Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) is often the initial step along the Integrated Academic Training pathway in the UK. It is relatively new and research as to its effectiveness is limited. Our objective was to evaluate the AFP in terms of its impact on academic career aspirations and to explore trainees' expectations and experience of the programme and investigate the enablers and barriers to success.
Seven supervisors of Academic Foundation trainees were interviewed over a 5-month period in 2014. AFP trainees' views were sought by way of an online questionnaire that covered six areas: demographics, expectations, academic time, experience, research and achievements.
Thirty-four trainees completed online questionnaires. The majority of trainees (94%) did not proceed directly along the Integrated Academic Training pathway to complete Academic Clinical Fellowships, but those who applied to do so were often successful (nine applicants, six successful). Free-text comments revealed an expectation of a more course-like structure to the programme, this is in contrast to the authentic experience of clinical academia, along with its associated challenges, that some of the supervisors reported. The importance of planning and preparation for success was a recurring theme from the supervisor interviews.
The programme is achieving some success in encouraging academic careers. There are several areas that can be improved. Improving the availability of information and guidance for supervisors and facilitating Academic Foundation Doctors to network are both feasible changes that could lead to improvement.