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This event tied together many of the different aspects of being an early career academic and provided the attendees with much new information and many skills to take forward on their path towards a successful career in academic primary care." 

This January saw the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) hold their second early career academic networking event, hosted by the Institute of Population Health, University of Cambridge. The aim of this event is to bring together researchers from different academic primary care departments, both clinical and primary healthcare scientists (PHoCuS), and in the early stages of their career. This provides a platform for activities focused on how to progress an early career in academic primary care and also network with peers from other academic departments. Through sessions lead by senior academics, the aim is for those with successful careers to pass on useful information to the leading academics of tomorrow.

The event started with a Q&A session with Jonathan Mant, Professor of Primary Care Research and Head of the Primary Care Unit at the University of Cambridge. The title of this session was “Identifying opportunities and overcoming challenges as an early career academic” and was an extremely useful, frank and open discussion with the attendees. Prof Mant chatted about the path his career had taken in its earlier stage, the decisions he had made (based both on career and personal choices) and some of the reason he thought his career had taken the direction it did. A key message we took away was that there’s no typical academic careers so it’s important to do what you’re passionate about, finding a balance, and having an ongoing discussion with a mentor about career development. This sparked many questions from the attendees relating to topics such as pursuing promotions and manging expectations and people.

This discussion about an individual career and the choices which influenced it was followed by Bob McKinley, Professor of Education in General Practice at Keele University who presented on “Career pathways in education and research”. Taking a wider, more general view of career progression, Prof McKinley presented the formal academic career routes which lay open to clinical and PHoCuS researchers and educationalists, and what these different options entail and can mean for career direction. It was very useful to think about the range of career options open to us and the importance of making your CV stand out from everyone else’s.

One of the career paths that Prof McKinley discussed was that of the medical educationalist. However, teaching responsibilities in the wider researching community are becoming more and more common and a requirement of job roles. To this end, Dr Sophie Park from University College London was invited to talk to the attendees on the topic of “Engaging in teaching for researchers”. Dr Park addressed some of the key aspects of teaching, identifying that many of the same skills apply to both researching and teaching. The value of bringing research and education together was a key message as there’s a lot we can learn from each other.

Finally, Suzanne Richards, Professor of Primary Care Research ended the day with a practical and extremely useful session on “How to present your CV for maximum impact”. As someone who has sat on many interview panels and reviewed countless application forms and CVs, Prof Richards was able to provide the attendees with some extremely useful hints and tips to improve the chances of their CV catching the eye of a potential employer and increasing the chances of progressing their career. Top tip, good formatting is more important than you might think!!!

This event tied together many of the different aspects of being an early career academic and provided the attendees with much new information and many skills to take forward on their path towards a successful career in academic primary care. If you’d be interested in taking part in next year’s event then keep an eye on the SAPC website for further information.

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