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Women in Science

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Video clip: Irene believes that clinical academics should try to do some clinical work throughout their career, to maintain technical skills.

So when you were in the States were you purely doing research for a bit?

Yes. That’s something which a lot of young clinical academics ask me actually is whether there is any risk when they embark on their first research project, having done their core medical training and the beginning of their specialist training, “Is there any risk from being away from clinical medicine for some time? Will you forget how to do the practical part of the job of looking after patients? Diagnosing diseases and so on? Talking to patients.” Now I never had that fear, I felt it was a skill which was something like riding a bike that even if you were away from it for a short period of time that that wasn’t going to compromise how good a doctor you would be.

I think now there is, I would change that advice slightly because I think that you probably can be away from clinical medicine for one to two years without any problem but it’s undoubtedly true now that you need technical skills, practical skills which are lost if you’re not doing them on a week to week sort of basis. So as a clinical academic I now give advice when I’m asked the question about does it matter if I’m away from medicine during my research, and I’ll give a more tempered sort of view of that which would be that for a short time of one to two years I don’t see any disadvantage but that it is useful to keep your clinical skills up with a very small amount of clinical activity during all your research career. And, and the most important thing is to get the balance right.