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Clinical academic careers

Clinical academic careers

‌If you are interested in research, you may wish to consider a Clinical Academic career.

What is it and is it for me?

A clinical academic is a medical practitioner who, as well as caring for patients and performing clinical responsibilities, is also able to perform an academic role in either a research or educational area.

A clinical academic role involves a combination of-

  • Research – design, data collection, analysis and writing up
  • Teaching – undergraduate, postgraduate
  • Clinical practice – any specialty
  • Administration of universities / medical schools (senior academics)

Exact proportions are highly variable- more clinical sessions are important for surgical specialties to help maintain skills.

The clinical academic career pathway available in Exeter is fully consistent with the recommendations of the Walport Report.

How to become a clinical academic

There is now a clear training pathway to become a clinical academic. This is an integrated pathway, which allows you to progress with academic training alongside completing your certificate of completion of clinical training. 

The schematic below illustrates the clinical academic pathway for medical trainees, from medical school to completion of training and beyond.

It is important to note that, whilst the schematic shows the full clinical academic trainee pathway, the NIHR and HEE recognise that not all trainees are ready to participate in clinical academic training at foundation level. The pathway is flexible; trainees are able to enter and leave the pathway at all levels.


Academic clinical training at Exeter

At Exeter there are several opportunities for medics to become involved in the clinical academic training pathway.

Our team works closely with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) who fund the majority of our clinical academic trainee posts. We also work closely with Health Education England - South West, to ensure that academic and clinical components of training are fully integrated.

Our trainees

We currently host around 25 Academic Clinical Fellows (ACFs) and Academic Clinical Lecturers (ACLs). Each year we advertise new ACF and ACL posts funded by the NIHR but also with some locally funded posts.


The Exeter lead for ACFs and ACLs is Professor Chris Dickens and the administrator is Mrs Gina Hack



Each year in Exeter we offer 2 research-focussed posts on our competitive Specialised Foundation Programme, which provide protected time for a research project as well as training in clinical academic medicine. These posts provide an opportunity, early on, for some of our brightest graduates to do research.

These posts will be of particular interest to those aspiring to an academic career, but the research skills will be generic and the experience of benefit to anyone with an interest in health and health service research.

Each programme starts with a generic clinical F1 year comprising 3x4 month rotations. In F2, the pattern is for 2x6 months clinical posts with 1/3 of the time allocated to research. This research time can be organised flexibly, part of each week dedicated to research, or with longer blocks of research time, depending on the needs of the trainee and supervisors. One of the 6-month posts may be pre- determined by the trust and there is some choice for the second clinical post.

Details of the recruitment process can be found here: Specialised Foundation Programmes - Peninsula Foundation (

For more information, the UKFPO Applicant’s Handbook is available on the UKFP website. Recruitment will be managed via the national online recruitment system, Oriel.

These specialised (academic) foundation trainees will work with internationally-renowned research teams across a range of specialties extending from laboratory science-based investigations to genetic epidemiology and from community-based to tertiary specialist services. We can offer projects in a wide range of subject areas, which can be tailored to the interests of the trainee. For further information on potential projects and supervisors can be found here. To discuss further please contact Dr. Angus Jones (

GW4 clinical academic training programme is a Wellcome Trust funded clinical doctoral training scheme allows applicants to undertake interdisciplinary PhD training in one of over 50 world-leading research groups in population health, cardiovascular sciences, neuroscience, mental health, infection, immunity & repair, cancer or molecular cell biology. Applicants will have previously undertaken research training such as an Academic Clinical Fellowship or via an alternative route such as the Clinical Primer.

For further information about this please contact Prof Tamsin Ford  or Prof Andrew Crosby