The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Integrated Academic Training Programme, announced in the autumn of 2005, provides a pathway for the training of prospective clinical academics that is compatible with higher specialist training requirements. The scheme has been very successful and has now been running for 10 years.

Researchers having a meeting

Programme structure

This scheme provides a pathway for the training of prospective clinical academics that is compatible with higher specialist training requirements. It aims to enable a given individual the pathway for conducting research, often towards a higher degree such as an MD or PhD to fit in within their clinical training. This process leads up to the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT).

The scheme falls into three phases over 10 years:

  • Foundation programme
  • Academic Clinical Fellowship - three years (GPs have four years)
  • Clinical Lectureship - up to four years

For more information about the scheme, visit the NIHR website.

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Academic pathways we offer

There are many routes to a clinical academic career. You might follow a structured pathway, taking advantage of the academic training appointments offered by the Foundation Programme and the National Institute for Health Research. Or you might carve your own path, taking up a fellowship, perhaps supported by a research council or charity, to complete a higher degree. No route needs to be followed rigidly, and it is common — indeed desirable ― to take advantage of all opportunities available to you.

Academic Foundation Programme

The Academic Foundation Programme provides opportunities for newly qualified doctors to develop skills in research, teaching and management, alongside achieving the clinical competencies required for the completion of foundation training.

The posts typically involve four months of dedicated academic time in the second (F2) year of the programme. How this is allocated will vary by post. It may, for example, take the form of a four month block or day release over the course of the year. The academic component is usually co-ordinated by a partner university, such as St George's, and it might involve, for example, designing or conducting a small research project, developing teaching materials, or perfoming a quality improvement project.

Undertaking an academic foundation post is not a prerequisite for an academic career, but it provides an ideal platform from which to gain relevant experience and achievements that may be a springboard to future academic posts.

Academic Clinical Fellowships

Academic clinical fellow posts are usually aligned with core training or early specialist training (CT/ST1 to CT/ST3). They are aimed at medical trainees who do not yet hold a higher degree.

Nine months of the three-year programme (i.e. 25%) are protected for academic work. The precise timing and arrangement of this will be specific to the post, depending on clinical and academic needs, but it will usually be taken in several blocks, e.g. 3 months per year. ACF post holders are employed by an NHS trust and hold an honorary contract with St George's, University of London.

The principal objective for an ACF post holder is to cultivate ideas, contacts and preliminary data to support a funding application to undertake a full time higher research degree (such as an MD or PhD).

Clinical Research Training Fellow or equivalent

To undertake a higher research degree (an MD or PhD), it is generally necessary to take up a fellowship post specifically for this purpose. Such posts are most often funded by the Medical Research Council, NIHR or a large charitable body such as the Wellcome Trust or British Heart Foundation.

Suitably qualified medical trainees may apply for these fellowships whether they have undertaken an ACF post or not, but ACF posts often provide the most direct means of acquiring and demonstrating the necessary experience and attributes.

Academic Clinical Lecturer or equivalent

Clinical Lecturer posts are intended for medical trainees who have completed a higher research degree (MD or PhD). They are usually aligned with the mid to latter phase of specialist training (ST3 and above).

The post lasts until the date of the trainee’s Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), up to a maximum of four years. Half of the time is allocated to academic work, and the other half to continued clinical training. CL post holders are employed by St George's, University of London, and hold an honorary contract with the NHS trust in which they are continuing their clinical training.

The aim of a CL post is primarily to prepare trainees for applications to Clinician Scientist or Senior Clinical Lecturership appointments.

Clinician Scientist

After completing higher specialist training (CCT) and obtaining a higher degree (MD or PHD), medical graduates are able to apply for Clinician Scientist Fellowships through funding bodies or apply for tenured posts linked to UK Universities.

Contact us

If you have any questions about academic training at St George's, contact our team.


Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2016 11:51