The Academic Foundation Programme is popular among medical students who will be keen to follow a medical career with a particularly academic focus, but that’s not necessarily the professional outcome, nor the only reason to choose it.
Research forms a vital part of the NHS. It unearths crucial evidence with which the NHS can make clinical decisions and helps in the development of new medications which can continue to drive improvements in the quality of healthcare in this country.
Obtaining a placement on an AFP, therefore, can help in the pursuit of your future academic career. For example, there may be funded training given to certain recognised qualifications. You may also get to work in a clinical setting with patients or doctors or in a research laboratory.
Beyond that many people choose the theme of their AFP with an eye to starting a career in teaching or management. Programmes which come with a theme focused on leadership, for example, will be ideally tailored for someone who wishes to pursue a career in management.
However, the programme doesn’t necessarily lock you into a particular career pathway and there may be some flexibility if your professional goals change once you’ve started a programme. It will also give you plenty of the skills you will need to work in most clinical areas of the NHS. The clinical requirements are similar to the regular foundation programme.
If you do not make it onto the AFP, though, don’t despair. You can still apply for the normal FP and the fact that you failed in your AFP application will have no bearing on whether you succeed as an FP.
It needn’t spell the end of any academic career either. Although a placement on an AFP will be extremely helpful, you can still apply for academic jobs through another root. This, though, will give you a head start, it will demonstrate your clinical and academic abilities and it aptitude for a career in medical research.