Harry Ahmed - Director of Cardiff Academic Fellows Scheme

Harry talks about his research as part of the Research Engagement Hub.

I enjoyed the research opportunities during the speciality training and wanted to continue. I found opportunities online (university website, google) and spoke to senior colleagues in the department. I applied for an Academic Fellow post at Cardiff University (Division of Population Medicine). This was a two-year fixed term posts, funded through Welsh government. It provided opportunities to teach, do research and study for postgraduate qualification and provided four, six-month placements in GP practices. The clinical/academic split was 40:60.

The Division is very supportive – senior colleagues (Prof Adrian Edwards, Prof Chris Butler) and mentor (Prof Kerry Hood) suggested applying for an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship. This was a funded PhD (completed March 2019).

The Division have now provided further funding whilst waiting outcome of post-doctoral fellowship application. My advice for those at this stage in their careers is to take into careful consideration who will be your supervisor. Tips given were around making sure these people would push and encourage personal development of ideas and were in a place you could see yourself in future.

Currently I have a portfolio career - 60% academic GP, 20% clinical work, 20% managing South Wales Academics Fellows Scheme. The Academics Fellows Schemes provides GPs with opportunities to experience academia whilst working in practice in South Wales Valleys.

My research background

My current research is on acute infections, AMR stewardship and medication safety. We work across two different research themes: Infections (this is what it is about) and Medical Statistics and Epidemiology (routinely collected healthcare data and methods from observational epi is used).

My clinical work involves one day per week in a 6000-patient practice in a deprived area of South Wales. Most research ideas come from my clinical work – e.g., a recent project around antibiotic anticoagulant drug interactions came about through a discussion with a patient who had a nosebleed whilst on antibiotics and an anticoagulant. All have been at Cardiff University who provide a lot of support.

The beauty of GP is the ability to mould your working week into whatever you want. Academia is perfectly suited to a GP portfolio career. It’s never too early/late to give it a try – we have had GPs join us for Academic Fellow posts straight from CCT and after 10 years as GP partners. If you think you might like teaching/research – find out about local opportunities from GP academics in your local University. The NIHR in England have opportunities for GPs at all career stages. GPs/GP Trainees in Wales should contact the Division of Population Medicine and/or HEIW for available opportunities.

Research advice

Once in an academic post, try and get a flavour for what interests/excites you in terms of research themes and methods. Find good mentors. People who are supportive, who will help you develop and progress but also allow you to develop and follow your own ideas/plans.

About the writer

Harry Ahmed is the Senior Clinical lecturer and Director of Cardiff Academic Fellows Scheme. His first engagement with academia was as a GP trainee in a specialty academic training post.

Harry completed his PhD in March 2019 and started a Postdoctorate Fellowship in June 2020.

To read more research case studies, visit the Research Engagement Hub.