Academic careers for GP trainees: an introduction

Promoting and supporting careers in combined training programmes for GPs.

Combined clinical and academic training programmes invest in people early in their career who can implement their acquired skills throughout the major part of their career. The valuable translation from practice to research and vice versa becomes a quality inherent in clinician researchers who have finished their combined program. Whilst combined research training in General Practice has developed strongly and consistently over the last decade, compared to other specialities, research capacity remains relatively modest especially at the doctoral level and post-doctoral level. The resources below provide details on the existence, organisation and output the various training schemes available. For those already in combined training, resources relating to ongoing support and career development are provided.

You can read about some of the opportunities here.

The importance of an academic general practice

General practice is a scientific discipline at the heart of decision-making in NHS, where the vast majority of common and costly medical problems are managed and where public health and health promotion interface with clinical care. The RCGP curriculum describes the ability to adopt a critical and research-based approach to practice as one of the essential features required for being a GP. Evidence-based medicine has become increasingly important in health care yet much of the evidence is from highly selected secondary care populations. Research in the setting of primary care, where most patients are managed, is increasingly important. Academic general practice departments around the UK are conducting important research to answer research questions relevant to the primary care population. The two papers below offer further insight into what academic GP training is all about.

How do I apply for a combined training post? 

Recruitment to Academic General Practice as an Academic Clinical Fellow differs in each country. Details of the eligibility criteria for each nation can be found here.

What does a career trajectory in combined training look like?

The current model of integrated academic clinical training from medical school through to senior researcher is discussed here. However, the 2014 Shape of Training report has called for greater flexibility in training pathways that allow individuals to move in and out of clinical / academic training at various points in their career. Details of successful NIHR career development awards are published regularly.

What opportunities for mentoring exist ?

The NIHR and CSO Mentorship for Health Research Training Fellows supports GPs who wish to follow an academic career and support their progress.  The Academy of Medical Sciences have a well established one-to-one mentoring scheme for postdoctoral academic GPs. They also run a number of workshops and events for early career researchers.

What opportunities for leadership training exist?

The Oxford International Leadership programme (formerly known as the Brisbane Initiative) is designed to help postdoctoral academic GPs explore different aspects of leadership in primary care research. Participants are encouraged to identify their own development needs, form peer learning sets and establish a two year follow up programme. Participants are provided with access to current leaders in primary care research, experts in strategic leadership and one-to-one coaching.