Clinical Academic Careers for Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals

New clinical research career structures for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals are being developed across the UK, based on recommendations of the UKCRC Subcommittee for Nurses in Clinical Research (Workforce).

The Subcommittee worked to identify the barriers which prevent individuals from pursuing a career in research and made recommendations based around education and trainingfacilitating careers, and better information on nursing research.

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The recommendations are being carried out in different ways across the four UK nations:

England

NIHR and the Chief Nursing Officer for England, in collaboration with ESRC and HEFCE are establishing the Clinical Academic Training (CAT) Pathway for nurses, midwives and allied heath professions The pathway will consist of four integrated levels of research training schemes, as follows:

  • Masters in Research or Masters in Clinical Research
  • Doctorate Research (not Professional Doctorate)
  • Clinical Lectureship
  • Senior Academic Clinical Lectureship

The NIHR has now launched the first three schemes in the pathway. From October 2009, seven universities throughout England will be offering Masters degree places in clinical research and will do so annually, for the next three years. Recruitment to these Masters programmes is being managed locally by individual Higher Education Institutions.

In January 2009, the NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship was launched. The fellowships will provide funding for salary and research costs for graduates who wish to obtain a doctorate by research whilst still developing their clinical skills.

The NIHR/CNO Clinical Lectureship scheme was launched in May 2009 and represents the postdoctoral training element of the CAT pathway. The posts are intended to support postdoctoral level research training combined with the continuing development of clinical expertise, with the balance of clinical and academic commitments being approximately equal.

These schemes are administered by the NIHR Coordinating Centre for Research Capacity Development and further information is available on their website.

Scotland

Significant investment in building research infrastructure for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (NMAHPs) in Scotland has been made by the Scottish Government Health Department, NHS Education for Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council in collaboration with Higher Education Institutions. Clinical academic careers are being addressed through three NMAHP Research Consortia, the Chief Scientist Office NMAHP Research Unit and the NMAHP Research Training Scheme, which has funded PhD studentships and Postdoctoral Fellowships. The UKCRC recommendations will be addressed within the context of these initiatives.

Development of the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Training Scheme is underway, in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland (NES), the Scottish Government Health Departments and the Health Foundation. This scheme funds six PhD studentships and six postdoctoral fellowships per year.

Northern Ireland

The Health and Social Care Research & Development Office (HSC R&D Office) is committed to implementing the report’s recommendations for nurses, midwives and AHPs in partnership with the Chief Nursing Officer and other key stakeholders. The implementation plan will further complement and integrate with existing R&D capacity building programmes of the HSC R&D Office.

Wales

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales has committed funding to carry out the recommendations from the report. Related funding has also been secured through the Wales Office of Research & Development (WORD) and Department for Public Health & Health Professions. This funding is for seven ‘first into research’ awards, 14 PhD fellowships, one post doctoral award and a career scientist. Discussions are ongoing to gain further funding through collaboration with key stakeholders. This will enable the development of a sustainable infrastructure to take forward the development of clinical academic careers for nurses, midwives and AHPs in Wales.