applying for the academic foundation programme (AFP)

by Dr Imogen Welding

The AFP is an opportunity for Foundation Doctors to gain experience in teaching, research, or leadership and management by spending one of their four-month placements over the course of their first two years in one of these fields. It’s a great chance to try something a little bit different or pursue a topic that interests you, but does involve a little more time and effort. 

All applicants have the opportunity to apply to a maximum of two Academic Units of Application (AUoAs). The format of the application remains the same as the standard FP application and will be pre-populated with your original answers, but it asks for some extra information in the Evidence and Supporting sections. These vary from unit to unit, so don’t be surprised if your application looks a bit different to others. 

In the evidence section, you can enter details of any further educational achievements up to a maximum of 32(!). You must also re-enter the achievements you used for the FP application as this is considered a separate application. The extra achievements here include things like further publications, presentations and prizes (full details available in the handbook). You don’t have to upload evidence for these achievements, but if you’re called for interview they will ask for evidence at this stage. 

The supporting section is where you find the white space questions. These are up to six competency-based questions for which you have to supply a short answer. They differ from unit to unit, although there may be some overlap. The questions are usually things like ‘describe a time when you displayed leadership skills’ or ‘give an example of your teaching experience’. It’s basically an opportunity for you to brag about how great you are, and is worth spending some time over. Competency questions are common across many types of job offer both within and outside of medicine, and there is a vast array of advice online as to how best to tackle them, so I won’t address them in detail here.

In the preferences section, you have to rank the academic programmes available in the AUoA you’re applying to. Unlike the deanery ranking process in the FP application, you don’t have to rank all of the options, only the programmes you would be willing to accept. 

This must all be submitted by the same deadline as the FP application. 

After the submission deadline, applications are in the hands of the individual AUoA which will undertake its own short listing process. Short-listed candidates will be invited to interview, then the candidate’s interview score is added to their decile score to give the total AFP score. The SJT score plays no part in this process (however, offers can be withdrawn if the SJT score is ‘exceptionally low’).

Interviews vary between the different units, but there are common themes that seem to crop up. If you want to get some practice and swipe some tips, you can usually find local interview preparation courses run by successful applicants. 

AFP programmes are then allocated based on candidate scores in the same way as the FP allocation process. The results of this process will be available on your Oriel account in January (before FP allocations are released). You must accept or reject the offer within 48 hours, so don’t forget to check! After this window has closed, those on the reserve list may be made an offer. Unsuccessful AFP applicants will join the FP application stream. 

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Dr Imogen Welding is a Foundation Year 2 Doctor, currently working in Liaison Psychiatry at North Middlesex University Hospital, London. She studied Medicine at the University of Oxford for six years, during which she chose special modules in Infection and Immunity, and participated in research in the field of Neuroimmunology.

She applied to the North Central London Deanery and spent her FY1 year at University College London Hospital, working in Gastroenterology, Trauma and Orthopaedics, and Acute Medicine.

Imogen’s future plans currently include taking an ‘F3’ year out of training to spend time working in Emergency Departments and travelling. After this, she intends to start Core Medical Training, and is currently interested in pursuing careers in Rheumatology or Haematology.

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