What is Academic Medicine?
Academic medicine usually involves research, teaching and patient care – often a combination of all three. The work of medical academics is varied; it furthers our understanding through research with patients often translating new discoveries from the laboratory or from fieldwork and, through teaching, passes that knowledge and those skills on to other people. This creation of novel ideas and the development of new skills aims ultimately to improve patient care.
How Do I Become an Academic Clinician?
There is now a career track for aspiring academic trainees. Doctors wishing to pursue a career in academic medicine now have the opportunity to engage in research throughout their career. In previous times, most academic clinicians would spend several years away from research in order to obtain clinical training. The new system allows doctors to keep up their research skills whilst obtaining clinical training.
The new academic career path would now encompass most of the elements below, following recommendations from the Walport Report.
- Specialised Foundation Programme (F1/F2)
- Specialist training
- Academic Clinical Fellowship – 3 years – 25% academic
- Hospital specialities
- General practice / public health / psychiatry
- Research training fellowship – MRC, Wellcome, DH, etc. to get PhD/MD
- Clinical lectureship – 4 years – post doctoral work and complete CCT
- Senior lectureship (Consultant equivalent level)
The Academic Training Path
The following diagram illustrates the academic training path from medical school to completion of training and beyond. Academic Clinical Fellowships are only offered in England and Northern Ireland but the other components of the pathway are available throughout the UK.
Opportunities usually exist to learn about research methods during the undergraduate course at medical school and some will enter medicine already with a degree in another subject (graduate entrants). For a few there are opportunities to combine getting a medical degree with a PhD (MB/PhD courses).
The SFP is not the only way to pursue a career in academic medicine. Some participate in research at different stages of the training programme after registration as a doctor whilst others take time out of their medical training to complete a PhD. Others find ways of exploring their interest in teaching and research at a later stage in their careers while continuing their clinical work.
Medically – and dentally – qualified academic staff: recommendations for training the researchers and educators of the future (the Walport Report)
- MMC and UKCRC
- Clear route of entry to an academic career
- Transparent career structure
- Properly structured and supported posts after training
- Specialised Foundation posts
The Specialised Foundation programmes are the starting point for this academic training pathway. Please see the Rough Guide to the Academic Foundation Programme