Top Tips: preparing an application for a Clinical Excellence Award

Senior Academic GPs (those with a substantive academic contract as a clinical academic at Senior Lecturer level or above) are eligible to apply for local or national Clinical Excellence Awards. Awards are becoming increasingly competitive, with applicants needing to demonstrate continuing excellence even for renewal of an existing award.

Each year, the RCGP produces a detailed guide to the overall CEA application process. SAPC produces guidance on applying for an SAPC citation. It is apparent from recent years that SAPC members would value further support in preparing their applications.

A while ago SAPC consulted with SAGPs who hold existing awards and/or sit on CEA panels and asked them to list their top tips – the things that stand out positively or negatively when applications are reviewed. We hope that these will help when preparing your application.

  • Start early: hastily written applications are obvious, and frustrating to read and review. The deadlines/turn around is always short so start your preparation before the call – use last year’s forms as a template.
  • Read the guidance from ACCEA: obvious, but people lose points because they don’t…
  • Highlight your ‘above and beyond’:  focus on things you do over and above your contracted role. Don’t just list all the things you do as an academic but highlight those which are innovative, different, have national impact (this is a national award), impact on patient health/care, not just a body of knowledge. Show how your achievements contribute to local and national NHS objectives and priority areas.
  • Write for a non APC audience: there are unlikely to be primary care academics on the committee – tell a non-specialist and lay audience why your work matters. (Also avoid acronyms, write names of societies in full etc – assume these will also be unfamiliar)
  • Be specific: give examples, with dates, quantified (if possible/appropriate), clearly stating your personal contribution…your part in the practice’s success, the department’s achievement, the work of a given Committee
  • “Since my last award, I have published n papers”
  • “Between 2010 and 2015, I reviewed n applications for NIHR funding, each taking n hours (average to complete)”
  • “Since 20nn I have contributed to n undergraduate assessment panels and interviewed nn potential medical undergraduate applicants”
  • “As a member of the Executive of xxx with responsibility for increasing recruitment, I oversaw the increase in membership from xx to xx between 2010 and 2015”
  • Get feedback on a draft: take advice from a trusted colleague with experience of the ACCEA process (preferably a successful previous applicant). See also SAPC peer review offer below
  • Citations matter – take time for this too: A small number of high quality citations is best -  providing brief, clear summaries of your achievements, focused on your best material and offering something more than a repeat of your application. You can help this by writing and submitting a strong draft citation to the SAPC/RCGP panel when you apply for a ranking/citation. Please do make the time to do this well. Maximum character count for citations: 1,350 (including spaces and punctuation).
    • A citation will add more value if it describes the impact or context of the applicant's contributions. Each year there are a number of citations that are duplicated word for word, but submitted on behalf of several different organisations. Citations that duplicate information from the application or multiple identical citations are unhelpful. (from ACCEA Nominator's Guide page 11, 2018 round)