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Academic Clinical Fellows (ACF)

NIHR ACF and local funded posts are usually available each year in the Unit of Academic Primary Care (UAPC). They are awarded in conjunction with the West Midlands Deanery GP vocational training scheme.

ACF Programme in General Practice (GP)

Our ACFs are two-year specialty training posts, and recruitment is normally at ST3. In addition there are also 4 year programmes available with entry at ST1. The UAPC works alongside the VTS programme to prepare ACF doctors to become confident general practitioners, while also gaining essential research and teaching skills that provide a foundation for academic general practice.

Professor Jeremy DaleLink opens in a new window is Head of the UAPC, and joint ACF lead with Dr Sarah Hillman (Associate Clinical Professor, General Practice).

Clinical Training

The Coventry and Warwickshire VTS is a friendly, supportive scheme with a very strong record for supporting trainees in taking the MRCGP examination, with many achieving merits and distinctions. The teaching emphasises the skills needed to give the highest quality of clinical care.

Trainees normally take the MRCGP exam in Year 3. The majority completing the programme continue to work within the Coventry and Warwickshire region and join practices that are active in teaching and research.

Academic Environment

The Unit of Academic Primary Care provides an outstanding environment for the development of trainee GPs who are wishing to embark on an academic clinical career. It has an international reputation for developing innovative methods of research synthesis, primary care interventions and health services research to ensure that research findings change clinical practice.

There is a wealth of senior research expertise across methodologies and in a number of clinical areas. These include health behaviours, obesity and weight loss, research into access for primary care including digital health care, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and metabolic conditions, end of life care, safer systems, women's health, patient experiences and research methods. The list is not exhaustive and the team are happy to support developing ACFs to nurture their own research ideas and areas of interest.

ACFs doctors at ST3 entry spend 50% of their time in research and educational training during ST3 and ST4, and is organised as follows:

  • Years 1 and 2 are mainly hospital based, with 6 months spent in general practice in ST2. We encourage trainees that are considering applying for an ACF role to approach the UAPC during the early stages of training so that they might become involved in the unit, strengthen their CV and get a better understanding of what an academic general practice role looks like.
  • Years 3 and 4 are split between clinical general practice (50%) and academic training (50%). The main academic focus is to undertake research projects leading to publications. ACFs also prepare a submission for a research training fellowship or, if applicable, post-doctoral research funding.

ACF doctors have an academic supervisor who acts as a mentor during the post. The academic supervisor also facilitates the development of research projects with senior researchers in the department.

ACFs are encouraged to attend courses and conferences, draft papers for publication and to apply for research funding. For those that have not yet gained a PhD, they will be encouraged to work towards a Masters qualification and an application for a doctoral training fellowship.

ACFs with an interest in research overseas may have an opportunity to involve themselves in international projects. However, conducting field-work overseas is usually not feasible because of the UK clinical training requirements.


Dr Sarah Hillman

s dot hillman at warwick dot ac dot uk

The Unit of Academic Primary Care currently include three Academic Clinical Fellows (ACFs) and they are highly valued members of our research team.