Name: Dr Amy Hough
Connection to the Academy: INSPIRE participant; Medical student at University of Exeter
"I think the most important thing INSPIRE does is makes clinical research opportunities accessible to a much wider audience."
What is your current role / stage in training?
I am a first year Foundation Doctor at the Acute Medical Unit of Birmingham City Hospital.
How and when did you first hear about INSPIRE?
I completed my medical degree at Exeter, from where I graduated in July 2019. When I was in my second year of medicine, I attended the INSPIRE showcase, which was led by Professor Tamsin Ford. My interest in research began at this point, stimulated by Professor Ford’s inspiring talk and the enthusiastic students who were presenting their work.
How did INSPIRE support your research interests?
Following the showcase, I took part in research taster days organised by INSPIRE, taking up a summer studentship in Dr David Allard’s lab at the end of my second year. This was a valuable experience, and whilst it made me less inclined to pursue lab-based research, I still had strong interests for a future career in research. For example, I was involved in setting up the INSPIRE Student Health Sciences Research Journal - a collaboration between medical schools at Exeter, Bristol, Plymouth and Cardiff - for which I was Senior Editor. With fellow students, we also set up the Exeter Medical School Research Society and ran a mini lecture series with local researchers showcasing their work and pathway into research.
A significant experience for me was attending the INSPIRE sharing day event at the Academy, where Professor Dame Valerie Beral gave a fascinating talk. This stimulated my interests in epidemiology and was pivotal to me taking a year out after 4th year to complete a Masters in Reproductive and Sexual Health Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The INSPIRE experience helped me to prepare a strong application on this competitive course. I think the most important thing INSPIRE does is makes clinical research opportunities accessible to a much wider audience.
What are your future plans?
When I complete Foundation Year training, I plan to pursue research alongside clinical training. I hope to return to the MRC unit in the Gambia, where I went for my medical elective, and to pursue specialty training with a research component, ultimately leading towards a PhD.
Almost everything I’ve done in my later years at medical school and since has been influenced by that first encounter with INSPIRE. If I hadn’t had that initial exposure, I never would have considered research it to be something of interest. I now recognise fully research as being a valuable part of being a doctor.