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Starting a PhD itself can be quite a daunting experience, but having someone who has been in your position to advise and bounce ideas off can be incredibly helpful."
- Emma Palmer-Cooper

About the Scheme

As the majority of SPCR trainees are not medically qualified, they do not have access to mentoring opportunities provided by the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) or local Vocational Training Schemes (VTS). The Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) realised the need to provide support and mentorship to non-medical primary healthcare scientists, and developed a scheme in 2013 to support early / mid stage researchers. The SPCR has built on the success of the SAPC scheme, and now provides independent mentoring opportunities within the School.


Emma Palmer-Cooper is the SPCR’s Patient and Public Involvement Officer, and gained her PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology and mental health from King’s College, London (KCL) in 2015. During this time, she acted as a student ambassador and Student Forum chair at KCL’s Institute of Psychiatry. Before joining the School, Emma worked for over 2 years as a post-doc in Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, and remains an honorary member of the Department.

What Emma has to say about the SPCR Mentoring Scheme:

‘I wanted to get involved as a mentor because I know what it is like to be a non-medic in a department that focuses on health care research. Starting a PhD itself can be quite a daunting experience, but having someone who has been in your position to advise and bounce ideas off can be incredibly helpful. My own experience of mentorship was with informal peer support networks, and as such, advice and support was rarely regular or consistent. The SPCR scheme interested me because it enables students to access support and advice as regularly as they require, whilst remaining separate from student’s research teams and supervisors.

I have really enjoyed acting as Georgia’s mentor over the last 4 months. It is rewarding sharing hints and tips I have picked up during my University career, from planning meetings to setting up an online research presence. I have also learned a lot about opportunities and events hosted by the University of Oxford and the School that I would not otherwise have been aware of, so this has definitely been a two-sided learning experience.’


Georgia Richards is an SPCR DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford, studying a Doctor of Philosophy in Primary Health Care. She gained a BSc in Biomedical Science and Honours in Pharmacology from the University of Queensland, Australia. Before moving to Oxford for her studies, Georgia worked as a research assistant in tertiary care hospitals in Australia.

What Georgia has to say about the SPCR Mentoring Scheme:

‘I sought to engage with the SPCR mentoring program as I’m a very early-stage researcher and a non-clinician working in a clinical field, thus, the mentor-mentee relationship is something I have, and will continue to, benefit from. Having moved to the UK from Australia, I was unaware of the many opportunities available and needing to grow my network here. Emma has been fantastic in facilitating my professional development and being available to speak with whenever I’ve needed too. She is a great role model and someone I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts, challenges and the occasional triumphs with.’