New programme offers increased opportunities to develop clinical academic careers

shutterstock_160511186A brand new Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) programme for non-medical healthcare professionals has launched recently.

The programme, which is funded by Health Education England (HEE) and managed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), provides a range of opportunities to undertake fully funded clinical research, research training and professional development, whilst maintaining clinical practice and salary.

The ICA programme replaces the previous Clinical Academic Training (CAT) and Healthcare Science Research Fellowships programmes.

It is open to an even wider group of non-medical/dental healthcare professionals who wish to develop careers that combine clinical research and research leadership with continued clinical practice and clinical development.

Professor Nicki Latham, director of performance and development at Health Education England explains why the programme has been updated: ‘When we reviewed the CAT programme we had a number of stakeholder comments about the barriers to access in place for some clinical staff.

‘We wanted to create an exciting opportunity for our workforce to access a more streamlined programme, open to more professions.

‘Clinical academic careers is a vital element of research for the NHS, and creating a flexible workforce that is receptive to research is a key aim of HEE’s Research and Innovation Strategy.

‘I am passionate about evidence-based decision making, care and treatments; clinical academics have a huge amount to offer to this agenda.’

There are five levels to the award; internships, masters in clinical research studentships, clinical doctoral research fellowships, clinical lectureships and senior clinical lectureships.

The different awards provide varying levels of training from an internship introducing the aspects of clinical research right through to a senior clinical lectureship, which enables experienced researchers to undertake further research, whilst developing as a clinical academic leader.

NIHR trainee Mark Jayes is a current award holder, he believes that the new programme will encourage even more healthcare professionals to develop their clinical academic careers, Mark said: ‘Being awarded a fellowship has enabled me to carry out important, clinically-focused research that I believe will deliver significant improvements to clinical practice and direct benefits to patient experience, dignity and involvement.

‘The programme is supporting me to develop my knowledge and skills, not only as a researcher but also as a clinician and a leader within my profession.

‘Thanks to the support provided, I believe that programme trainees are ideally placed to drive forward the clinical research agenda and the development of clinical academic career pathways.’

The programme will be open until 28 May 2015.

For more information on the ICA programme visit www.nihr.ac.uk/hee-ica.

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