Joe Larvin is an Academic Foundation Programme Trainee in Primary Care at St George's, University of London. 

Joe Larvin Cropped

What attracted you to the academic foundation programme?

During medical school I enjoyed the research element of my BA year and I was involved in teaching medical students in the years below which I found very rewarding. I have always wanted a career with lots of variation and so the academic foundation programme seemed like the next logical step for me. I had seen how busy the foundation years can be and so the opportunity to have protected time away from the wards to pursue other interests was very attractive.

How is the Academic Foundation programme helping you to achieve your academic goals?

I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the programme. Rather than focus on one large project, I wanted to have as many different experiences as possible. I became involved in medical student teaching, particularly clinical skills. I was invited to help improve anti-microbial teaching at St George’s and this included setting up an online platform with extra resources for students. I then fed back the changes during a Health Education England visit to the hospital and was involved in further meetings with them. I was also part of the Hospital’s ‘listening into action’ steering group aiming to increase staff engagement and quality improvement around the hospital.

I feel that I also improved my basic research skills. I was exposed to the practicalities of clinical trials and writing grant applications. I had the experience of writing a publication as first author and I am now more comfortable handling big data sets, helped by completing a statistics course held at Guy’s Hospital.

During this period I was also able to attend the monthly academic training sessions put on by South Thames which included a speaker talking about their journey through medicine and their current work. Due to clinical responsibilities it can be difficult to attend these throughout other rotations.

What kind of research project have you been involved in?

My AFP was 'primary care,' themed and for my four-month research block I spent two days a week working in a GP practice. I found this useful for keeping up my clinical skills, getting experience of a different speciality and also gaining an insight into the challenge of balancing academic and clinical commitments.

For the rest of the week I arranged to be based with Professor Baker’s clinical pharmacology group. I was involved in a number of their projects, though my main focus was investigating the relationship between diabetes and increased respiratory symptoms. This involved analysis of a large data-set and I am aiming to submit a paper for publication in a diabetes journal within the next month.

We also did a piece of work looking at the perception of clinical pharmacology amongst the public and healthcare professionals and this was presented at the annual British Pharmacological Society conference.

What advice would you give to aspiring medical students regarding clinical academic training?

It is a fantastic chance to have four months of something radically different from your normal foundation jobs, with protected time off the wards. You really can take it in whichever direction you choose and pursue what you find interesting and rewarding. If you have the opportunity, at an early stage have a look at how the applications work and how they are scored in order to give yourself the best chance.

Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2018 14:03