Becky Ward joined the Cambridge Primary Care Unit in August 2017 as an ST1 Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF). This means that she’s in her first year as a GP Registrar with dedicated time to pursue research interests. Becky’s ACF programme is four years in total including the year she will spend studying for the MPhil in Primary Care.
This academic year, Becky is spending two days a week in general practice at Comberton Surgery, two days doing research and one day a week in teaching/private study.
My research aims to…
My research interest is gestational diabetes, an interest I developed whilst I was in the Academic Foundation Programme in Stoke-on-Trent. I have always been interested in Women’s Health and I was completing an academic rotation in diabetes and endocrinology. Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a condition which is associated with obstetric risks but is also the single largest risk factor for the future development of type 2 diabetes. In my current project I am studying the incidence of type 2 diabetes following a diagnosis of GDM and whether there are particular risk factors associated with developing type 2 diabetes in these women.
What I’m focused on right now…
My current project is a systematic review of studies reporting the incidence of type 2 diabetes in women who have had previous gestational diabetes; and the risk factors that may make the development of type 2 diabetes more likely. This has involved the development of a systematic search. I have learned to use multiple databases including OVID, EBSCO and Cochrane Library to perform the search. The search resulted in over 23,000 papers. My colleague Becky Lantaff and I now have the job of finding which of these papers are relevant to our projects by using our specified inclusion and exclusion criteria before pooling the data, analysing it and writing up our findings.
Why I wanted to combine clinical and academic work…
I studied medicine at the University of Birmingham and completed the Academic Foundation Programme in Stoke-on-Trent. I developed an interest in research during medical school at Birmingham, whilst doing a public health project which went on to be published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The experience highlighted to me that being a clinician and a researcher are not separate entities – my research can enhance my own knowledge and thereby help my patients, and being published in peer-reviewed journals can allow findings from my research to reach patients all over the world. In addition to this, being an academic GP trainee gives further variety in training and allows me to travel to conferences to hear and meet inspirational GP academics. I very much hope I can continue my career in academia. I am looking forward to studying the MPhil in Primary Care here at the Primary Care Unit and in the future would like to do a PhD.
What’s it like being an ACF at the PCU?
Cambridge is a beautiful city with lots of academic prowess and the Primary Care Unit has the ‘Prevention Group’ which is interested in preventing medical conditions, where my research interest fits in.
It is great fun being a GP ACF in Cambridge; everyone at the Primary Care Unit is welcoming and with many different research groups you get to work with a variety of people. The VTS training scheme in Cambridge is equally brilliant and I feel very well supported in both my academic and clinical work.
One top tip for potential GP ACFs?
Find out if there is someone at the PCU with a similar academic interest who will be willing to supervise you, they will be able to give you further information about their research. I met up with Professor Simon Griffin a few months before starting the post to discuss my research interests and to develop a plan of my current project.
Find out more about NIHR’s ACF programme
Learn more about the Prevention Group at PCU