Dr Joseph Westaby, Academic Clinical Fellow in Histopathology
Dr Joseph Westaby.
Why did you choose to apply for an academic clinical fellowship (ACF) at St George's?
While based at Imperial College, I was strongly encouraged to apply for an ACF as I had been involved in a number of research projects and had undertaken two lab-based degrees. I was told that this would allow me to dedicate 25% of my time to research. I felt that this was an exciting opportunity which could lead to an academic career.
Two options were available to me, one of which was based at St George’s. The ACF at St George’s provided the opportunity to work with Professor Sheppard in a field which I had a particular interest in: cardiac pathology. St George’s is one of the largest centres in Europe and has an excellent adjoining clinical team. Having previously undertaken a dissertation on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, I jumped at the opportunity to work within the field of inherited cardiac disease again.
What had you done before applying for the post?
I had undertaken a BSc in biochemistry and molecular biology and an MSc in the molecular biology and pathology of viruses. My BSc dissertation was on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I have a very strong history of representative work, having held local positions at FY1, FY2 and ST2. I was also local representative for the foundation program and held the regional London position at ST1. I received the merit award for outstanding leadership at FY1 and FY2. I have regularly lectured and run tutorials for medical students throughout my training. By the time I applied, I had one paper in press and had given a number of regional, national and international poster and oral presentations.
What was the application and interview process like?
The application was fairly straightforward, with a number of a blank box questions to fill in. It was based on the Oriel website. Scores were assigned and choices were made through this system. The interview was split into two components; a clinical and an academic panel interview which each lasted about 20 minutes. My tips would be to review the document “Good medical practice” prior to the interview and to be passionate about what you want to do.
How did you go about arranging your research placements?
My clinical team has been flexible with regard to my research placements, which has allowed me to take them to suit my personal learning and academic needs. This means that I tend to discuss this with my academic supervisor prior to negotiating with the clinical team.
What has it been like balancing the academic and clinical aspects of the post?
As expected, this has been challenging, particularly due to the simultaneous postgraduate exams I have taken. My advice would be to plan ahead and make sure that you allow time to meet all the requirements of both components. It is also important to make sure to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It has been particularly easy to lose myself in work due to the fact that I enjoy it so much!