Post Foundation Academic Training - England/Northern Ireland
The parent body overseeing academic programmes in England is the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This organisation aims to facilitate high quality research in the NHS, train clinical academics and translate their research findings into clinical practice.
NIHR has overseen the creation of Academic Clinical Fellowships (ACFs) and Clinical Lectureships, providing a clear development options for medical academics.
What is an Academic Clinical Fellowship?
ACFs are targeted at doctors and dentists in the early years of specialty training. They allow you to develop your academic skills at the same time as your specialty clinical skills. An academic foundation post is not a pre-requisite for selection to an ACF; however, it may be helpful as part of the evidence you provide of a commitment to an academic career.
You will be given the opportunity to acquire generic research skills in subjects such as statistics, ethics, epidemiology, clinical trial design and grant writing, as well as more specialised skills suited to your particular research and career interests. This might include anything from molecular genetics to bioengineering or structural biology.
This academic training environment is aimed at helping you prepare a competitive application for a training fellowship for a higher degree or, if applicable, a postdoctoral fellowship.
Funding for an Academic Clinical Fellowship is available for three years. ACFs can expect to spend 75% of their time in clinical training and 25% in protected academic activities (basic science, clinical research or medical education). This protected time will tend to be available either in either three month blocks or as one dedicated day per week.
GP Academic Clinical Fellowship
There is a separate programme for GP specialty registrars. If you plan to start GP training, you can apply for an ACF that combines GP and academic training. These posts are funded for up to four years to help you develop your academic skills, prepare a training fellowship application and complete your GP training.
Other academic opportunities
Failure to gain an ACF post doesn’t mean the end of your academic aspirations. Other options include university posts funded by grants or pharmaceutical companies, both of which can lead to a higher degree.
Advanced Academic Opportunities - Clinical Lecturer
After completing an ACF appointment or if you have an interest in advanced study but have not completed such an appointment, you might consider a Clinical Lectureship. These are designed for doctors and dentists with a PhD/MD (or equivalent), who already have specialty training experience.
They provide opportunities for post-higher degree research or educational training as you work towards completion of your specialty training.
Funding for a Clinical Lectureship is available for a maximum of four years but Clinical Lecturers are expected to apply for further research funding (eg. personal fellowships or research grants), or support for continuing educational training.