Post undertaking a research fellowship, the decision to remain as a clinician academic is the first one to take. If motivated and passionate enough it is a no brainer. However entering the next stage of training from fellow to lecturer is no easy feat; limited funding and posts. That in itself is a true test of your commitment.
Dr Neel Sharma, GI Registrar and Clinical Lecturer at the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy and Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Birmingham shares his tips that may prove useful for those hoping to secure a post.
- Reach out to potential supervisors before submitting your application. It is advisable to show interest early on. Sending out an email and arranging an informal meeting helps to demonstrate your background thus far, your research progression during your fellowship and more importantly your understanding of the field. Supervisors are keen to know how well you recognise the current gaps in the evidence and how you may choose to solve them. Of course there is no one solution but the exchange of thinking is a fundamental element in academia. By meeting potential supervisors they can gauge how well you would fit their lab or research interests and if not which other supervisors may be better suited to you.
- The application form. The application process is fairly straight forward, highlighting your degrees thus far, prizes, publications and presentations. Where you will be able to set yourself apart is highlighting your long-term plan and what you can bring to the department in terms of your skillset. And here there is no right or wrong. Collaboration is key for any successful researcher. You must demonstrate an awareness of such and potential collaborations thus far is crucial. It is now overtly outdated to think that one centre can achieve academic success without reliance on other institutions. There is now no single expert. Have you taken steps to develop a network early on? Are you culturally aware? Ensuring diversity in your research network with a willingness to embrace expertise both East and West will set you apart from the rest.
- The interview. And last but by no means least the interview. Interviews are never plain sailing. You may have to face several. But your approach should be consistent each time. It is highly likely that you will be asked to analyse a research study. This will help to highlight to panel members your ability to condense a paper in to its main findings and of more importance its potential flaws. Gain an understanding of trial methodology and data analysis, most of which you will be familiar with post fellowship but there may be some methods or stats you may not be aware of. You will be asked about your research vision and so be concrete in your beliefs. Even if some panel members disagree stick to what you believe. And what you want to add to the field, even if widely different to the panel. Remember you are not here to solve all the research gaps but to add to the understanding of the discipline over your career. Demonstrate to the interviewers your motivation and even if criticised remember the criticisms are designed simply to ensure what you aim to contribute will be more rigorous and more translatable in the future.
Best of luck!