Primary Health Care Scientists - PHoCuS

Primary Healthcare Scientists make up around half of the APC workforce

APC derives its strength from its mutidisciplinary workforce. In 2012, the Society started work to understand and address the career development needs of our our members who don't come from a medically qualified background. The result was the establishment of our PHoCuS group.

Importantly the request for this group to be established came from two medically qualified SAPC members - Professor Helen Lester and Professor Peter Croft. We have to thank both of them for helping us establish the group, Helen for her vision and belief in the added value PHoCuS members brought to APC, and Peter for identifying a start up fund of £5k.

Professor Christine Bond and Professor Sandra Eldridge now lead a team of PHoCuS members developing a range of support for our members.

Mentoring excellence in Primary Care

After consulting with other PhoCuS members at an inaugural breakfast meeting at the Bristol SAPC ASM in 2011, establishing a mentoring scheme for PHoCuS members was seen as a priority call on the budget. As PhoCuS members come from a diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds, no other single organisation fully represents them in the context of applying their expertise to address the needs of Primary Care.

A cohort of mentors

After exploring the various types of mentoring schemes discussed in the literature, it was clear that for the scheme to be successful we needed to train a cohort of mentors. We were delighted that the trainers for the mentoring scheme attached to the National School for Primary Care Research were enthusiastic about also providing training for PHoCuS, and were generous in sharing both their expertise and materials as well as agreeing to be our provider of mentor training. 

Progress to date

To date we have trained two cohorts of mentors, 11 in total; their biographies and other details of the scheme will be posted shortly on this website. We have had 23 Mentees apply for the scheme and they have been matched to mentors of their choice. Feedback from the first wave of mentors and mentees  was very positive with mentors finding the experienced to be rewarding, and mentees really appreciating the opportunity to discuss career issues with a colleague from outwide their organisation who had no other hidden institutional agenda to address, perceived or otherwise. Comments included the value of ‘seeing an independent person outside of your own department’, ‘having dedicated time to discuss  career aspirations and receive feedback’,  and ‘someone to talk to who has a very different perspective’.

Overall we feel the scheme has been an excellent way to support PHoCuS  members and importantly contribute to the sustainability of a multidisciplinary academic primary care workforce. 

Additional support for PHoCuS members

With the success of the mentorship scheme, PHoCuS continues to expand, both in terms of members and activities. The group now leads a number of Getting On resources for SAPC members:

  • PHoCuS meetings timetabled in to national and regional conferences
  • Our regular PHoCuS Friday initiative on Twitter (@sapcacuk) highlights PHoCuS activity


Get in touch

If you would like more information on the work of PHoCuS, or you’d like to get involved as a either mentor or mentee, please contact us.