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Our trainees' stories

Read our trainees' stories and find out what it's like to train at UHS.

Dr Michelle Fernandes

Michelle is a core fellow in paediatrics.

I came to UHS as an aspiring clinical trainee in paediatrics with substantial experience in child health research, but no clinical experience in child health in the NHS. This made making the transition from academic to clinical medicine, and from a non-UK medical school to the NHS’s specialty training system, very challenging. As an EU national who qualified in medicine outside the EU, and after an eight-year hiatus in clinical work because of academic pursuits (including a PhD), I didn’t fit the usual profile for clinical ST candidates. I also didn't feel ‘top of my game’ in the context of clinical ST interviews when compared with candidates who had been part of the system since their first day of medical school.  

That's when UHS stepped in and made all the difference. I was fortunate enough to have interviewers who saw beyond my somewhat disjointed academic and clinical portfolio, and offered me a position as a core clinical fellow in paediatrics. The core fellowship’s primary aim was to build my competencies in paediatric medicine, at FY2/ST1 level, and provide opportunities that would serve as crucial bridges for the gaps in my clinical portfolio, cementing them together in a high quality, and later, successful, ST application. Not only did the fellowship provide me with these, but it also offered me opportunities to participate in audits, quality improvement projects, presentations, teaching and courses enabling most, if not all, of the boxes to be checked on my ST application. 

However, the greatest value for me came in the way of from mentorship. Within a month of working on the floor in paediatrics, I had built relationships with consultants and peers who encouraged and empowered me, building my confidence and going the extra mile to help me out during difficult times. It’s because of their heartfelt mentorship that I applied to and was successful in obtaining a run-through training post in paediatrics at the Wessex Deanery just six months into my fellowship. 

My success was, and is, enabled by the core clinical fellowship programme. It’s a forward-thinking programme that focuses on a candidate’s potential rather than how well they fit into the system. While it appreciates what a candidate has achieved in the past, it focuses on the candidate’s future career trajectory, presenting the candidate with empowering mentorship opportunities along the way. In short, if a candidate knows what they want, the core clinical fellowship at UHS will help them achieve it. I hope that other universities and trusts follow UHS’s example in establishing these fellowships - opportunities which are still all too rare for candidates like myself. 

Dr Kenneth Oguejiofor

Ken recently completed a core fellowship in clinical oncology.

After completing my foundation training, I was looking for an opportunity to work towards specialty training in an environment that was both challenging and supportive. I chose University Hospital Southampton.

The idea of moving down to Southampton to take up a role in the core fellowship programme was a bit daunting. It meant a new city, a new hospital and a new role, with new expectations.

But as I settled in the city and my new role, I found help around every corner, with seniors willing to answer my numerous questions and provide structured teaching and mentoring. There's a strong culture of teaching and career planning here at UHS, with several careers sessions available to fellows. The core fellowship exposes fellows to the highest quality of medical knowledge and practice. For those who haven’t yet decided on their specialties, rotations through the various specialties allow for informed decision-making on future career plans. 

I’ve enjoyed this role and living in Southampton so much that I’ve accepted an ST3 position at the Wessex Deanery to continue my training in clinical oncology. I strongly recommend the core fellowship programme for would-be applicants. 

Dr Ornela Tepshi

Ornela is a foundation fellowship doctor.

I am very grateful for my experience in the foundation fellowship programme and for the people I got to work with at UHS.

It's a very well organised programme and it gives you the chance to have the same training opportunities as your deanery colleagues. You get a clinical supervisor for each rotation, and they support you during your placement. You also have the chance to participate in audit and quality improvement projects, and present and teach to other NHS staff members, as well as attending all the foundation programme teaching sessions. These are amazing opportunities that can help you gain all the competencies you need to progress with your career.

UHS is a very good place to work. I always had the feeling that I could talk to someone and that my thoughts were being listened to. The people who manage the foundation fellowship programme are very supportive and understanding, and they’re always willing to help and advise you on how to progress further in your career. 

During this experience, my professional confidence grew significantly and I managed to achieve the F2 sign-off, which now allows me to apply for a training post. I am very happy to have been part of this programme and would recommend it to every doctor who is willing to start their career at a junior level in the NHS.