Frequently Asked Questions

Where will I be based?

You will usually be based on the 3rd floor, Reynolds Building of the Charing Cross Campus.

How is the working week organised?

Your week will be split between 2 days in a local general practice, and 3 days based in the department at Charing Cross Hospital campus. Your days in general practice will be decided by your clinical supervisor at the surgery – obviously, they have to choose days when they can provide you with a room and appropriate supervision. Your three days in the department are split between:

  • working on your research project
  • teaching medical students
  • attending department activities (e.g. weekly seminars)
  • attending training courses

It’s important that Wednesday is one of your days in the department because that is the day when most academics are in and we tend to have departmental meetings and seminars then. On Tuesday lunchtime you will have compulsory F2 teaching at Charing Cross. Your teaching time will be fitted in by the department around your other commitments.

What do recent academic F2s think of the placement?

What options are there for my research project?

Academic F2 doctors are able to choose from a variety of projects within the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, or more widely across the whole School of Public Health. Within the Department, there are lots of possible topics for research, from e-health or health services research to chronic diseases and population studies.

Across the wider School of Public Health, we have research groups focussing on clinical trials, genomics, infectious disease epidemiology, neuroepidemiology and ageing, and epidemiology and biostatistics. The academic department at Imperial has strong roots in epidemiological approaches to primary care, and a programme of undergraduate teaching which stretches across the whole curriculum. The department also organises the Imperial College Master of Public Health (MPH) programme; and hosts the WHO Centre for Public Health Education & Training. These links give opportunities for working on international public health topics.

There is also the opportunity to work on an education project and participate in education research within the undergraduate primary care teaching department. You will also become part of an education community of practice (ECoP); this is a group of individuals in different teams who meet regularly to discuss their projects and research and share ideas.

We think this gives you a huge range of opportunities for your research project. If you prefer, we are also happy to simply allocate you a project before you start. We have found that things work best if you attach to an existing research team/project. This means that you don’t have to start a project from scratch, and that your supervisor(s) are much more familiar with the area from the beginning. It also improves your chances of getting your work published, probably as part of a larger group. Remember too that whilst the topic itself is obviously important, the real goals for your research project are learning about the process of research.

It is also important to stress that whilst you may have great ambitions for your project), it’s our job to make sure that your project is realistic and achievable within the 3-4 months you have here. Research can be frustrating and unpredictable; sometimes it is not possible to complete all your work before you leave. That is not a disaster, but obviously we like you to get as close as possible to a finished project.

What are the goals for the research project?

The real value of the project lies in getting to grips with the research process, working with an experienced team of researchers. So we expect you to grapple with the nitty-gritty of real research. For example; defining an appropriate research question; getting up to speed on the topic with a targeted literature review; deciding which research methods would be best for answering your questions; becoming familiar with appropriate statistical techniques and data sets; learning the skill of academic writing. So you can see that although you may be more interested in some research topics than others, most projects will allow you to develop many of these generic research skills. In other words – don’t fret too much about the specific research topic you end up working on.

Many Academic F2s seem very keen to get on as soon as possible with what they see as “real research” (ie data collection and analysis). They become frustrated if they have to spend more than a week or so clarifying the basic question for their project, or choosing the best methods, or reading about the subject for a literature review. But these are core research skills; without a clear question or a thorough grasp of the relevant literature, data collection and analysis are often worthless.

We expect all our Academic F2s to present a summary of their research project at our weekly departmental seminar in the final few weeks of their attachment here. This is a 20-minute presentation, including a slide reflecting on what you have learned about research process and academic primary care, followed by 10 minutes answering questions from the audience.

Another aim is to present you work at a conference and/or get your work published, either as a stand-alone project, or as a contribution to a larger research article. This is likely to happen sometime after your attachment - you are encouraged to see the process through under guidance from your research supervisor.

What sort of projects have recent F2s done?

Research projects generally involve either a systematic literature review or an analysis of a data set. But there is wide scope, including some qualitative research. Here are some recent examples:

  • The English North-South Divide: Cardiovascular Risk Factor Trends from 2003-2009
  • Does Higher Quality Primary Healthcare Reduce Admissions for Heart Failure? A National Observational Study
  • Public Health provision in Iraq (literature review and report)
  • The use of PROMS (Patient-Reported Outcome Measures). The relationship between patient-reported and other process outcomes at Trust level
  • How many people in England are eligible for Bariatric Surgery in England, according to NICE guidelines, (and are they actually getting it)?(Using data from Health Survey for England 2006)
  • Hypertension treatment locally compared to national guidelines
  • Mental Health in Brent
  • Communication within Multi-disciplinary teams (literature review of qualitative studies)
  • Conflict and healthcare – a systematic review
  • Cardiovascular risk factors in lorry drivers
  • Childhood obesity and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Sex Influence on Genome-Wide Methylation
  • Mapping GP Teaching activity in North West London
  • Cost-effectiveness of cardiovascular health checks – a systematic review
  • Trends in community-acquired pneumonia mortality
  • Continuing Professional Education for GPs in Imperial NHS Health Trust
  • Medical Ethics for action research
  • Integrated care pathways for dementia – an interrupted time series
  • Effect of NICE guidelines on antihypertensive GP prescribing practices in Wandsworth
  • Efficacy of new emergency hormonal contraceptive “Ella One”
  • A report on healthcare in Iraq
  • Students views on feedback – a literature review informing Imperial College feedback strategy
  • A cross-sectional study on the effects of active travel on cardiovascular measures in India  
  • A qualitative review of ‘Whatsapp’ community of practice used by students.

F2s have had their work published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, Journal of Public Health, Informatics in Primary Care, and BMC Clinical Pharmacology, BMJ. In addition recent trainees have written editorials, reviews and clinical reviews for BJGP, BMJ and others.

I want to decide on a project and discuss with my research supervisor before I start – how do I sort that out?

It is worth thinking about your project a couple of months before you are due to join the department (but not too early as many research projects may have changed by the time you come). Have a look at our departmental website to get a feel for the sort of research we do here (see above). There are lots of possible topics for research, from e-health or health services research to chronic diseases and population studies. Have a look, too, at the wider School of Public Health site to see what they are up to. See which research groups or specific projects match your areas of interest most closely. You may be more interested in a particular research technique than research topic. Then get in touch with Dr Andrew McKeown or Dr Nina Dutta (F2 Educational Supervisor for the attachment); then, after discussion with our Head of Department (Professor Azeem Majeed), Dr McKeown will put you in touch with the relevant research team (s). It is then up to you to liaise with the researchers directly, to try to define a feasible project for a 4 month attachment.

Can I choose my own research project, outside the Department of Primary Care and Public Health?

Our default position is that you are attached to a Department of Primary Care and Public Health, and so should aim to do a research project in that area. There is a very wide range of topics and research expertise within the department and the wider School of Public Health. If you were attached to a Department of Cancer Surgery, for example, you would not expect to do a project on Psychiatry based in a different department. The other reason why we much prefer you to do your research project in-house is that it allows you to immerse yourself in departmental activities or networks here, and fully experience life in an academic primary care department. The danger of attaching to an outside department is that your time becomes very disjointed and you miss out on important learning opportunities, often unscheduled. Having said that, over the years, a handful of F2s have persuaded us that they would benefit from doing their research outside the department.

Who will be my supervisor?

You will have several supervisors:

  • Overall academic F2 supervisor in the department: Dr Andrew McKeown/ Dr Nina Dutta
  • Research project supervisor: to be decided , depending on your project
  • Clinical Supervisor: your supervisor in your GP practice

What teaching will I be doing?

There are many other opportunities for getting involved in teaching. Depending on your academic days, you will have the opportunity to teach on a range of courses within the department. Prior to teaching on any course, we will always ask you to observe the session first. There will be an opportunity for your teaching to be observed such that you can receive personalised feedback on your teaching skills. Example of teaching that you will be involved in include:

  • Year 3 Medicine in the community teaching
  • Year 5 teaching (GP, leadership, NHS structure, dermatology, psychiatry)
  • Year 5 communication skills teaching

There is also the opportunity to teach on the Personal and Professional Development (PPD) sessions for early years medical students. These are typically on a Tuesday and Friday. Dr Elizabeth Muir runs those courses and would be delighted to hear from you if interested. Please contact her on E.muir@imperial.ac.uk

Where is my GP practice and who is my clinical supervisor there?

Health Education England usually decide on two local training practices each year which will host our academic F2s. These must be accredited practices with a fully trained F2 clinical supervisor. They are practices which are close to the department and high quality teaching practices.

Can I go on training courses?

Yes, you are encouraged to attend any relevant courses to your F2 academic training, within your study leave allowances, and with agreement from the department.

Previous F2s have attended courses on:

What other opportunities are there?

There are some other important opportunities:

  • We run an in-house full-day session on consultation skills, with simulated patients and video feedback, facilitated by experienced GP teachers (TACTIC). This session is a great opportunity for you to try out new approaches to difficult situations – we often base the sessions on real-life problem cases you have encountered in the surgery.
  • BMJ can sometimes offer academic F2s a week in the editorial department to find out how editorial decisions are made and how papers are handled in a medical journal. Jonathan Black (jblack@bmj.com)
  • Regular department activities: Weekly Academic Seminars 

Other opportunities open to all Imperial academic foundation trainees, including:

    • Monthly North-West Thames Academic teaching
    • Pan-London academic forum
    • Academic Foundation Forum
    • BMA Clinical Academics Conference
    • UKFPO/Well​come Trust Foundation Doctor Academic Conference

          How much leave am I allowed during the placement, and who do I contact about it?

          You have a total of 9 days of annual leave per 4 month rotation and only under exceptional circumstances can leave be ‘carried over’ between rotations. During your academic rotation (unbanded) you will also have bank holidays off, and will not have any ‘out of hours’ or weekend commitments. Leave can usually be fitted to your requirements during this rotation as there are no rotas to work around, however, it is generally requested that you do not take all of your leave during your days scheduled to be in general practice or vice versa. If you have fixed leave requirements you wish to discuss before you start your rotation these should be addressed to your GP practice in the first instance. It is also advisable to give plenty of notice for any leave requests during your GP time so you are not scheduled for surgeries. You will also have study leave (currently 10 days per year), however all study leave requests need to be approved by your educational supervisor and the team at the postgrad centre.