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Training and Research opportunities

UCLP recently held an introduction evening for new ST3s across different specialties. There were some useful sessions with themes that may interest non-new SpRs (avoiding the term ‘old’ for anyone sensitive…). Here are some brief highlights, along with a reminder of some new training opportunities, and some recently released funded research posts in groups with a proven track record of high quality research and successful PhD fellows:


UCLP Introduction

UCLP and Professional development

  • Not sure where UCLP sits in the organisation of training structure? Still not sure what a Lead Provider or a LETB is?  Not sure whether you should care? Have a look at this handy animation which aims to help explain how to navigate your way through training.
  • UCLP is offering some professional development training courses and events, which are free. See below and their website. If you feel they should be providing other stuff let them know. They can also support QIP projects in a more ad-hoc way so get in touch with the team if you have any questions.
  • There is a UCLP trainee forum that we as NorthEast Thames trainees feed into. If you have anything you want to bring up let us know and we can take it to the meeting, or facilitate you attending/speaking there. This committee is cross-specialty so potentially has some power if there are key issues we all think are priorities. Uptodate access was mentioned – should this be provided across UCLP, rather than be a Trust-specific decision as to whether to fund it? We may want to bring travel/relocation expenses up at this forum next time.

Tips from Zaheer on navigating ST3 onwards

  • ST3 can be stressful, particularly the role of the Med Reg. Keep telling yourself you are more than capable, and remember that you are flanked by a consultant most of the time on the acute take these days.
  • When you look back things are not as bad as they felt in the moment.
  • If you have problems with training try to resolve things locally. People will try to accommodate you and it is in their interests to sort things out without you having to escalate to the TPD/UCLP. These avenues are of course open to you if you are not getting the support you need.
  • In terms of procedures, don’t wait for your ARCP to acquire and log experience. Be proactive. Know the decision guide and set yourself aims throughout the year.
  • Leave moaning about the ePortfolio to the pub. Don’t waste time on considering its’ relative merits. Just log everything. To move through training (and later revalidation) smoothly you need evidence, evidence, evidence. Make the ePortfolio your friend.
  • Don’t look at what everyone else is doing and think you have to do that too. The lab is not for everyone, and there are lots of different opportunities. Talk to people who have chosen different paths, think carefully about what you want to do in the future, and carve your own interests.

Quality Improvement

Fostering resilience

  • The Professional Support Unit has a number of services that trainees can access for free, that may be helpful in navigating career choices, work/life balance, stress and resilience
  • The Headspace book and app were recommended as an easy way into mindfulness, which for some people can be an effective way to manage stress and find space to think. A number of people in the audience had used it themselves, and recommended to patients suffering from anxiety.
  • The Professional Support Unit has a coaching service, and a careers support unit with an occupational psychologist. Any trainee can have 4 sessions of coaching for free pre-CCT, which can://

    • Increase your motivation
    • Improve your work life balance
    • Manage transitions positively
    • Enhance leadership skills
  • The Kings Fund states that “stress is a result of a toxic cocktail of high work demands coupled with low levels of control and support” in an article “Are we supporting or sacrificing our NHS staff?” and suggests how NHS managers should respond.
  • An article in the BMJ careers on 6th Nov 2015 describes stress levels of NHS staff as ‘astonishingly high’ and suggests treating this as a public health problem.
  • Things that people in the audience wanted to get from enhanced resilience were: the ability to set and maintain boundaries; to say no or negotiate; to bend rather than break when times are tough.
  • We were reminded of the physiological stress response, and Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome in response to chronic stress. “Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.”
  • We thought about the positive impacts of working under a degree of pressure, and what leads to a tipping point where it becomes unsustainable and damaging. Chris McManus’ work on stress in health professionals was recommended: “To burnout one has firstly to have burned brightly”. His recommendations include counselling and other career support mechanisms for all health professionals.
  • The government’s Foresight project on ‘Mental capital and wellbeing‘ in 2008 identified 5 ways to wellbeing: connect (with people); be active (physical activity you enjoy doing); take notice (mindfulness); keep learning (something new); give (do something nice, give positive feedback, volunteer, community). How much do we each do of these things? How can we integrate them better into our day to day lives?
  • We were encouraged to reframe stressful situations and to consider our sphere of control. Some elements of our working lives we have control over, some we have influence over, and some we have to accept and let go.

UCLP Cultural Health Factors training – free

“Healthcare professionals are exposed to diverse populations in their practice. However, they do not always currently receive support to learn from these populations and develop their skills in engaging with patients and carers regarding their health needs. GMC guidance for trainee doctors, specifically requires them to learn to work in partnership with patients, including responding to patients concerns and preferences, and supporting patients in caring for themselves to improve and maintain their health. Additionally the CQC explicitly requires staff to meet these essential standards. This UCLP interactive workshop has been designed to cover all these issues”.

It is a 1 day workshop 9-4.30pm and includes the opportunity to practice communication skills with trained actors. The learning objectives are aligned to the leadership academy model, and may help you evidence fulfillment of some of the leadership points on the curriculum. Book for dates from 27th Nov  to 3rd Feb via Eventbrite but be quick as it’s filling up fast.

UCLP Leading Quality Improvement in the read world – free

“This programme aims to give you the right support to understand and implement quality improvement techniques and apply them to relevant clinical problems.  You will also learn valuable management and leadership skills and will have the opportunity to utilise these whilst undertaking a quality improvement project within your own organisation”. UCLP are working with Academyst LLP in an attempt to ensure the right support.

The programme consists of three distinct learning themes:

  • Intelligent academic support – learning events
  • Mentoring & coaching along the way – locally & from Academyst
  • Self-directed identification & implementation of a QI project

In booking onto the programme, you are agreeing to participate in all of these elements. You will need to commit to 3 days training, and participation in at least 1 evening session or webinar.  Launch dates range from January 11th – 15th.

A great opportunity to engage in quality improvement in a meaningful way, and get free training and support. Further information is available on the UCLP website, with booking on a dedicated QIP page. If you’re not able to commit to this programme, there are other shorter sessions run by UCLP on QI so look out for dates.

Research fellowships

  1. Lung Cancer/ Bronchoscopy fellowship available from April 2016 at UCL. Clinical Research Associate – Ref:1520077.

The post holder will work as a Clinical Research Associate based within the Lungs for Living Research Centre at UCL in a team run by Prof Sam Janes. The post holder will work as part of a team investigating the early diagnosis of Lung Cancer or cell therapy for lung diseases. The overall aim of the research is to gain new insights into mechanisms regulating cancer development and identify new therapeutic targets for the treatment of lung cancer. The post will have significant clinical duties but the candidate will be exposed to the laboratory and expected to apply for MRC/Wellcome fellowship funding to carry out a PhD within the appointed year. This post is funded for one year in the first instance. For more information read the full job advert.  Applications close on 16th December.

2. COPD/Blue Journal Clinical Fellowship available from January 2016, ideally with someone in place by April 2016 at Imperial College.  

This is a great and unique opportunity for a clinical fellow to obtain some experience in medical publishing, ethics and the peer review system. They will be involved for up to 8 hours a week in selected editorial matters for the Blue Journal – commissioning editorials, reviews etc and then the rest of the time is free for research. The ATS will also fund completely attendance at the annual ATS meeting and provide training. The fellow will be able to attend all editorial board meetings.

It is envisaged that the research fellow will develop an interest in COPD especially COPD exacerbations and this will lead to a PhD.  The post is available till end Dec 2019.  It will be based in the Guy Scadding Building, Imperial College, Brompton Campus.

The fellowship will be formally advertised imminently, so anyone who is interested should contact Prof Wedzicha by email on j.wedzicha@imperial.ac.uk.

Please remember that you will need to give 6 months notice to leave the programme, so if you think you have a serious chance of getting either of these fellowships, you need to contact Dr Bhowmik immediately to let him know your plans and may need to negotiate your start date, if successful. Links to OOPE/R guidelines are available on the research pages and in FAQs.


We hope you all received the letter of support from training leads across UCLP (including Dr Bhowmik as Respiratory TPD) in regards to current contract negotiations. This is not an easy time for anyone in the NHS, and solidarity is extremely important. If you missed the letter please get in touch and we will forward it on. Here is an extract:

“We strongly oppose any contractual changes that undermine training and educational opportunities for doctors and changes that increase working hours and could lead to detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of trainees and ultimately on the safety of patients. We hope this letter gives you confidence that your trainers support you in securing a fair and safe junior doctor contract.” 

We hope the day of industrial action on Tuesday goes smoothly and that a fair and safe contract can be negotiated in the very near future.


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