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Clinical academic training and careers

Find a definition of a clinical academic and information on clinical academic researcher strategies, the national clinical academic training pathway and clinical academic career pathways here.

What is a clinical academic?

The Association of UK University Hospitals (AUKUH) clinical academic group have developed an agreed definition of a research-focused clinical academic nurse, midwife or allied health professional (NMAHP).

The definition has been adopted by the Department of Health/NHS England and can be seen on the AUKUH website:

'A research-focused clinician academic is a nurse, midwife or allied health professional who engages concurrently in clinical practice and research and provides clinical and research leadership in the pursuit of innovation and delivery of excellent evidence-based healthcare. A central feature of the research they do informs and improves the effectiveness, quality and safety of patient care.


'Clinical academics focus on building a research-led care environment for patients and challenge existing practice as well as working within and contributing to a research rich environment leading the way towards achieving excellence in patient outcome and healthcare.


'The substantive contract of employment may be held by a healthcare provider or a Higher Education Institution. Honorary contracts should be held with the non-substantive host.'

On the same web page, AUKUH also explain why it is important to invest in clinical academic NMAHPs.

'Research activity improves the quality of patient care, experience and outcomes, and increases the effective use of available resource. Nurses, midwives or allied health professionals (NMAPHs) lead and contribute to the generation of new knowledge about care and treatment, and support the development of a dynamic, innovative world-class workforce that actively seeks out the best evidence to help improve outcomes and experiences for patients.


'The development of a world-class multi-professional clinical academic workforce promotes the accessibility and translation of high quality evidence to inform clinical decision making. Clinical academics are ideally placed to facilitate the adoption and spread of best practice, innovation and new technology.'

Read more on the AUKUH website

What does 'a clinical academic' mean in practice?

In this video from NHS Careers, healthcare professionals talk about their clinical research work.

See more on the NHS Careers website

Clinical academic researcher strategies

National and England

This strategy supports the Government’s aim to improve people’s health outcomes and healthcare experience by developing the best research professionals. The clinical academic workforce is instrumental in generating and translating high quality research at the point of care. 

The document describes the development of a clinical academic training and career pathway and the impact of clinical academic roles, including case studies.

Association of UK University Hospitals (AUKUH) national clinical academic careers development group for nurses, midwives and AHPs

This group has been set up to facilitate the implementation of the strategy and lead the development and implementation of clinical academic careers within England.

Council of Deans of Health position statement on clinical academic careers for NMAHPs

This position statement, published in 2012, sets out the Council of Deans of Health’s vision for how NMAHP clinical academic careers can be promoted, embedded and sustained in order to make a tangible improvement to people’s experiences of care and health outcomes.


National guidance for clinical academic research careers for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (NMAHPs)

This national guidance supports the development of NMAHP Clinical Academic Research Careers (CARCs). It includes a clinical academic research career framework and accompanying principles.

National clinical academic training pathway

In 2007 a report ‘Developing the best research professionals’ was published by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration.

The report identified barriers to clinical research careers for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals across the UK, and made recommendations in relation to education and training and facilitating careers.


Clinical academic training programme

As a result of the ‘Developing the best research professionals’ report, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Chief Nursing Officer for England and the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer commissioned a clinical academic training programme for nurses, midwives and the allied health professions in England.

The clinical academic training pathway (CATP) has four stages:

  • Masters in Research or Masters in Clinical Research
  • Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship
  • Clinical Lectureship
  • Senior Clinical Lectureship

The awards are administered by the NIHR Trainees Coordination Centre (NIHR TCC).

For further information about the awards see

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) mentorship for health research training fellows scheme

The CATP programme is supported by a mentorship scheme:

The scheme is delivered by a partnership of organisations:

A list of mentors is on the health research mentor website at

Internship programme

Internships enable practitioners considering a clinical research career to gain experience working within a research environment and to develop their ability to secure formal research training.

Research internships have been successfully implemented locally and may become part of the national clinical academic training pathway.


Research capacity building collaboration (RCBC) Wales

RCBC Wales was established in 2006 as a collaboration between six universities in Wales. The purpose of the collaboration is to increase research capacity in nursing, midwifery and the Allied Health Professions.

Two schemes offer opportunities for clinical academic training:

Early career PhD studentships

Part-time PhD fellowships for nursing and allied health professionals who have recently qualified.
They enable recently qualified professionals to undertake a PhD whilst also gaining clinical experience.

First into research opportunities

These awards support projects lasting approximately one year, for newcomers to research or those wishing to update research expertise, for one day a week.

Northern Ireland and Scotland

Currently there is no ring-fenced funding for clinical academic training pathways for AHPs. However, AHPs can apply for funding for research training.

Clinical academic career pathways

(see also ‘Clinical academic researcher strategies’ above)

National and England

The Association of UK University Hospitals (AUKUH) clinical academic career pathway for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. This career pathway maps to training pathways.

The clinical academic careers pathway capability framework published in May 2014 by the AUKUH Clinical Academic Careers Group for NMAHPs sets out role responsibilities, including clinical and research capabilities, for early, mid-career and senior roles across the pathway.

Clinical Academic Careers Pathway Capability Framework

See Figure 1 (p.9) of the publication Developing the role of the clinical academic researcher in the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions

Report of the AUKUH national clinical academic careers development group for nurses and midwives

The report reviewed national, regional and local training schemes and the current clinical academic workforce. It also reported on the development of a clinical academic pathway, principles and required population and summarised details of activity undertaken by the UK expert reference group between May 2011 and June 2012.

The group did not include AHPs initially, and this report therefore has a greater focus on nurses and midwives. However, most of the report is of great relevance to AHPs and also contains 20 recommendations in relation to the proposed work of the current NMAHP group.

The recommendations are summarised under three themes:

  • national leadership
  • five-year strategic plan
  • proposed activity.


NHS Education for Scotland’s clinical academic research career (CARC) pathways align with the NHS career framework model and take into account the Knowledge and Skills Framework.

See Page 8 of the report National Guidance for Clinical Academic Research Careers for Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professions (NMAHPs) in Scotland (2011).


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