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Say hello to our Fellow

Frimley Park cystic fibrosis (CF) centre has announced the addition of Dr Alexandra Ewence, who was part of our Clinical Training Fellowship programme in 2017, as its new CF consultant. We spoke to Alexandra about her journey into CF medicine, her experiences as a Fellow, and her thoughts on what makes CF care unique.

woman with long brown hair smiling wearing yellow shirt with white patterns How did you get started in cystic fibrosis medicine?

I studied for my BA in medical sciences at Cambridge University before moving to London to finish my medical studies at King’s College London. After qualifying, I stayed within hospital medicine and completed my training in Respiratory and General Internal Medicine, during which I was fortunate to work at several CF centres and spend time in a lung transplant centre, allowing my interest in the medicine of CF to develop.

I find CF care to be a unique specialty, especially within respiratory medicine, as it allows clinicians to provide lifelong care for their patients within a large multidisciplinary team. Getting to know people with CF and working with them as they progress through many life events is a rare privilege within hospital-based medicine.

Why did you apply for the Clinical Training Fellowship?

Knowing that I wished to pursue a career that would look after people with CF, I sought further experience of the specialty. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust Fellowship came highly recommended and offered the opportunity to spend a year embedded within a CF team.  This would allow time to fully understand the working of a CF team, get to know their patients and further my knowledge of the latest developments in CF care and research.

What does a day-in-the-life of a Fellow look like?

I am a full-time working member of the CF multidisciplinary team. My duties include review of patients in clinics, taking part in ward rounds for the inpatients and assessment of unwell patients on the day units. I also offer advice via the CF specialist nurses on outpatient treatment and management.

Alongside the clinical elements of this fellowship, there is a focus on service improvement. I am currently assisting with the implementation and evaluation of a pilot project in home monitoring and video clinics, with the aim of offering this service more widely to our patients in the future.

What would you say to those interested in the Clinical Fellowship programme?

If you wish to pursue a career looking after people with CF, then the clinical experience provided is fantastic. It has allowed me the opportunity to build knowledge and gain the confidence needed to take on a consultant role in CF medicine. In addition, my fellowship has allowed time to improve services, audit practice and get involved in clinical research.

What makes CF care unique?

Cystic fibrosis care is very much centred around a strong multidisciplinary team. These teams seek to deliver holistic care for the patients they serve, providing psychological and social support as well as medical treatment. This is quite unusual within hospital-based medicine and something I have really enjoyed. Cystic fibrosis centres also aim to provide care and review whenever needed, hopefully allowing us to really get to know the people we are looking after and to understand what is important to them. Having these open channels of communication and long-standing connections is quite unique within medicine. I highly value the multidisciplinary team work that CF medicine requires and greatly enjoy working within these teams.

Now as a consultant, what do you hope to achieve?

It is an exciting time to be looking after people with CF, due to new developments in treatments and continued improvements in life expectancy. We are hopeful more people with CF will retain good health for longer, and as such I am sure there will be a growing interest in increasing flexibility in CF services, reducing the time people with CF spend in and visiting hospital. I look forward to the opportunity to help shape CF care during this time and help create new services which reflect the changing needs of our service users.

Find out more about the programmes and resources that we have developed to support CF clinicians.

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