Diary of a clinical academic

December 19, 2003

Rob Sneyd is professor of anaesthesia at the Peninsula Medical School at Plymouth, and The THES asked him to keep a diary to give some idea of how medical academics seek to balance the three aspects of their work.

My week normally starts on Sunday evening when I come into the hospital to see patients for my neurosurgical operating list for Monday.

Clearly the night before brain surgery is a pretty stressful time for people so I need to be there to give them proper attention and enough time to discuss things.

I am in the operating theatre all day. I get to the hospital for 8.15 for an 8.30 start. Theatre can be stressful at times, but we have a good team. Things often over-run. Last Monday I had a medical board management meeting that started at 5.30.

Up to the hospital to see my patients from yesterday - it is to be hoped that all are well. After that, it's back into the car to drive to university for office work and meetings. Often I go to other medical school locations, such as Truro and Exeter. I have regional and national responsibilities for the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the medical school, the Department of Health and other bodies. I also need time for computer work - I get up to 100 emails a day.

This is the main meetings day for the medical school, and meetings tend to be back-to-back until evening and through lunch. As associate dean I have responsibility for resources, IT, multimedia and various other things.

Thursday and Friday
These two days are always different, with lots of travelling and endless papers and emails. I do my research writing in gaps and often in the evenings. My MD/PhD students (currently there are five of them) do not get the attention they deserve. I make sure they are well supported by putting together strong supervisory teams.

I also mentor first and second-year students, which I love doing. The work varies from hardly any to absolutely masses depending on the particular problems they might have. There are also endless human resources issues, and I have done everything from chairing formal and informal disciplinary procedures to conducting inquiries.

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