I have to say it was a pleasure to congregate with a crowd of like-minded individuals cosy in the pub on a crisp, wintry, Thursday evening in the West End of Glasgow. This month Prof McNeish kindly agreed* to chat to us about his role as chair of CATAC (Glasgow University’s Clinical and Academic Training Advisory Committee) and his plans to usher in a new era of clinical academia in Glasgow, as well as dispensing advice about navigating the minefields of clinical and academic training to avoid being chained at the coalface as a full-time clinical NHS consultant. Which I’m almost certain can’t be that terrible. Probably.
There was a 30 minute talk and then some questions and answers. As well as talking through some of his ambitions for improving clinical academic engagement in Glasgow (including a focus on improving the clinical lecturer programmes) through CATAC, Prof McNeish discussed some practical funding options for early-stage clinical researchers and talked briefly about how to maximise chances of success in funding applications. He also spent some time talking about the Academic Foundation programme and it’s strengths and flaws.
The main take-home message from the evening, for me at least, was a focus on building personal skills and resources to maximise our potential as clinical researchers. These included: actively seeking mentorship from someone liked, respected, and trusted – but not someone too close to day-to-day work; broadening horizons, being imaginative and being brave: as well as accepting that sometimes we fail – but that’s ok as long as we can learn from it.
Overall it was pleasant way to spend an evening and I’d like to thank Prof McNeish and the 20 or so folks who came along. We’ve got a wee break from CiRN events over Christmas, but Mark is busy organising a bioinformatics workshop for early in the new year – we’ll send updates by email, twitter, facbook and on the website and anywhere else we can think of as and when more details are confirmed.
*Elaine assures me that there were no explicit threats or violence involved in Prof McNeish agreeing to talk to us.