By Dr Sashidharan Parameswaran FRCP, associate specialist in Sexual Health Service at Homerton University Hospital, London and RCP SAS representative for Central and North East London region.
I completed my MD and worked in a department of dermatology and venereology in teaching hospital in India, before moving to the UK and completing my MSc in dermatology at University Hospital Wales, Cardiff. I joined the Sexual Health Department as a staff grade doctor and became associate specialist in 2004. The interest I had for teaching and presentation of core specialty topics caught the attention of the clinic lead and I was given the responsibility of teaching in the department. What started with fewer than a dozen doctors 20 years ago has now grown to a teaching programme that now caters to over 100 staff, including doctors, nurses, health advisers, community health workers, pharmacists, psychologists, and other allied professionals.
Persevere with what you are doing; hard work ultimately pays off, and there are several routes into research.
I have been a member of the National Committee of SAS Doctors in Sexual Health since 2001, and I am currently the SAS representative on the BASHH (British Association of Sexual Health & HIV) Board and a regional representative of the RCP SAS Committee.
There have been some challenges in being research-active as an SAS doctor. As my department mainly treats outpatients, there was hardly any clinical research going on when I started. When clinical research was facilitated in the department, there was very little opportunity to be involved, as my key role as an SAS doctor was to see patients attending clinics. This led me to other strands of research, including giving presentations at local, national and international conferences, publication in peer-reviewed journals, updating national guidelines, reviewing journals, organising and participating in national audits and surveys, and organising and lecturing on national courses.
In recognition of this work, I was awarded fellowship of the RCP, and have received various prizes and awards. I would encourage other SAS doctors interested in pursuing research not to lose heart if they find it difficult to participate in some aspects of research. Persevere with what you are doing; hard work ultimately pays off, and there are several routes into research.
Read more inspiring SAS doctor stories in the latest issue of Commentary, the membership magazine.