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UK-wide group outlines guidance for transitioning clinical academic trainees back into research following COVID-19

Published: 28 May 2020

A UK-wide group of clinical academic trainee funders, including the NIHR, has developed a series of principles to support those returning to clinical academic roles.

The Clinical Academic Training Forum (CATF) has developed these principles in response to the challenges being faced at this time by clinical academic trainees, their host institutions, the NHS, Health Education England and funders. 

A key aspect of the guidance is to create individual plans for those returning to clinical academia, recognising each trainee’s situation will vary. This individualised approach will assess research and training needs with input from the trainee and academic and clinical supervisors. The guidance also proposes specific responsibilities for the many partners that oversee clinical academic training.

Over 1,500 academic trainees in England alone have responded to requests to move to  clinical duties to support the COVID-19 effort. For NIHR clinical academics, this represents over 90% of all trainees on the Integrated Academic Training (IAT) pathway. Similar levels of response have been seen on other programmes and in all four nations.

Professor Dave Jones, Dean for the NIHR Academy, said: “Over recent months we’ve seen large numbers of clinical academic trainees returning to full-time clinical duties to support the national response to Covid-19. We are all rightly proud of the contribution our researchers have, and continue to make in this area. 

“It is therefore vital that we support our returning clinical academics and their host institutions, in their research roles. The principles and actions we are announcing today will provide some initial guidance to facilitate this in an effective way.” 

Acknowledging the impact on individual trainees will vary, the aim of the principles is to provide practical and timely guidance so that trainees, their clinical and research supervisors and host institutions can make carefully considered decisions at the right time.

The Clinical Academic Training Forum includes representatives from: The Academy of Medical Sciences, Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans of the United Kingdom, Medical Schools Council, Medical Research Council, Health Education England, NIHR, The Royal College of Physicians, The Wellcome Trust.

NIHR Academy clinical academic trainees are being advised of the new framework. If you are a NIHR Academy Member you can visit NIHR Academy COVID-19 webpage for all recent updates.

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