Current position and what team you are working in
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Registrar (ST3, Thames Valley) at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Plastic Surgery at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford
Alma Mater and Career to Date
• MBBS and Master of Health Research (MRes) at Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia
• Foundation Training in the North West Thames Deanery (North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)
• Core Surgical Trainee in the London Deanery (Plastic Surgery at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and Royal Free Hospital and Orthopaedics at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children)
When did you decide to get involved in research and why?
I developed an interest in clinical research in plastic and reconstructive surgery as an undergraduate. To further this I undertook an intercalated Master of Health Research where I performed and published my first systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the difference in adverse events between unilateral and bilateral DIEP breast reconstruction. Since then I have built my academic portfolio through on-going clinical research alongside my surgical training. I have undertaken further systematic review training at the UK Cochrane Centre in Oxford. In 2017 I was awarded an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship in Plastic Surgery at the University of Oxford to pursue clinical research along side my higher surgical training. I am most interested in building the evidence base for our surgical interventions through systematic review and well-designed clinical research. Developing outcome measures that truly determine the effectiveness of these interventions is a fundamental part of this.
What is your area of research interest?
• Systematic review and meta-analysis
• Primary research in hand trauma, burns and reconstructive surgery
• Outcome measurement in hand and reconstructive surgery
How have you managed to combine clinical work with research?
Combining clinical and academic work has been challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Receiving formal training in research methodology early on in my career enabled me to engage in clinical research projects towards the end of medical school and then facilitated my ability to continue this work during foundation and core surgical training.
What have been the sources of your research funding?
As an Academic Clinical Fellow in Plastic Surgery, I am funded by the NIHR (National Institute of Health Research) to spend 25% of my time performing clinical research within the NHS and 75% of my time dedicated to clinical training. I have previously received funding from BAPRAS, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Jean Shanks Foundation Trust.
What are the benefits and challenges of being a clinical academic?
In the early years, getting additional academic work done during busy training periods requires a certain amount of commitment and sacrifice. Entering higher surgical training requires significant energy and perseverance to balance progression as a surgeon with the demands of the academic community. However, the personal and professional rewards for this commitment can be substantial. As plastic surgeons, our first-hand clinical experiences and interactions with patients provide invaluable insight and inspiration for new research hypotheses. I believe this is an important characteristic of clinical academia, as it enables us to focus on research that matters to patients. The plastic surgery academic career path offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the ways in which we can progress the evidence base for our specialty and hone the research skills required to make meaningful progress