The NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowships (ACF) are managed by the NIHR Trainees Coordinating Centre (NIHR TCC) on behalf of the Department of Health. Each Medical School in England is allocated a number of NIHR ACF posts, which it must manage in partnership with its Postgraduate Medical Deanery and local NHS Trusts in order to synchronise and deliver the academic and clinical training.
Academic Clinical Fellowships are speciality training posts that incorporate academic training. NIHR Academic Clinical Fellows (ACFs) spend 75% of their time undertaking specialist clinical training and 25% undertaking research or educationalist training.
ACF posts are only available to medically qualified candidates and are aimed at those who, at the early stages of their speciality training, show outstanding potential for a career in academic medicine or dentistry. The duration of an ACF is for a maximum of 3 years (4 years for GPs). During this time, alongside clinical training, ACFs will be able to develop their academic skills and be supported in preparing an application for a Research Training Fellowship (to undertake a higher research degree) or an application for a place on an educational programme (leading to a higher degree). Success in these applications is defined as the end point of an ACF. Trainees may need to continue in clinical training before applying for, or taking up such a training fellowship, as befits their personal situation at that time. The later uptake of a Fellowship is still measured as a successful outcome.
Warwick Medical School has ACFs across a number of specialties:
Formula Post 1 - Anaesthetics or Intensive Care Medicine
Formula Post 2 - General Practice or Public Health Medicine
Formula Post 3 - Endocrinology and Diabetes Mellitus or Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery
Competition Post 1 - Obstetrics and Gynaecology or Clinical Radiology - Platform Science and Bioinformatics theme
Competition Post 2 - General Practice or General Psychiatry - Mental Health theme
The NIHR provides £1,000 per financial year per ACF/CL trainee to Warwick. Warwick is responsible for managing the bursary fund and approving expenditure against the bursary. The bursary cannot be used for consumables and can be used for attending academic meetings and conferences that are an important part of your training.
Each summer you will also be asked to complete an Output Report detailing your academic related achievements over the past year (such as publications, grants awarded) to help us evaluate individual and programme success.
Trainees are encouraged to explore the mentoring scheme through the University. Details of how to apply can be found here.
It is expected that ACFs will engage in the Masters Programme as part of their academic training and may take up to 3 modules in a year. Any additional modules within the same academic year are subject to Supervisor and IAT Lead approval. You will need to pay for registration fees. Further details on the process can be found here.
What is the purpose of a NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) post?
NIHR ACFs are part of the Integrated Academic Training Pathway in England, established in order to promote academic medicine and dentistry, and to provide a clear route for doctors and dentists interested in an academic career. A NIHR ACF post is intended to support medical and dental trainees at the early stages of specialty training who wish to develop an academic career alongside their clinical training. Posts have 25% protected academic time for trainees to develop their academic research skills and prepare an application for a Fellowship award at Doctoral or appropriate level.
Are NIHR ACFs run-through training posts?
All NIHR ACF posts are run through training posts in the specialty in which they are advertised, with the exception of Medical Education, which is not a GMC recognised specialty. For example, an NIHR ACF in neurology that recruits into ST1 Core Medical Training will run through into Neurology ST3 training in the third year of the NIHR ACF subject to satisfactory ARCP.
Is a NIHR ACF a 3 year post?
NIHR ACF posts last for 3 years unless the trainee is successful in obtaining a Fellowship Award and leaves the programme early. The only exceptions are NIHR GP ACF and NIHR GDP ACF posts which can last for 4 years, or if the NIHR ACF post is part-time.
Is my post associated with an NTN?
Yes, the Postgraduate Deanery will assign NIHR ACF trainees a national training number with the exception of GDPs who do not undergo specialty training. In addition, you will be assigned the suffix of (a). A NTN(a) identifies you as an academic clinical trainee.
When does an NIHR ACF post finish?
A NIHR ACF post will finish at the end of 3 (or 4) years, see above. Or: • If a trainee leaves early to undertake a Fellowship. • If a trainee returns to full time clinical training. • If a trainee moves post or takes up a new post.
What happens to my NIHR ACF post if I go out of programme to complete a PhD Fellowship?
Your NIHR ACF post will finish and you will return to clinical training following completion of the PhD Fellowship.
Can I go out-of-programme from the NIHR ACF post?
In general you cannot, but this is at the discretion of the Deanery and NIHR TCC with whom the request should be discussed.
When I return to clinical training will I still have run through?
You will continue in run through training in the specialty in which the NIHR ACF post was advertised when you return to clinical training at the end of the NIHR ACF. The Postgraduate Deanery will manage your specialty training and run through to CCT.
Can I take maternity leave during my NIHR ACF?
Yes. Maternity leave is governed by the terms and conditions of service associated with your NHS contract as a trainee doctor/dentist. As with any employment, you have the right to return to the NIHR ACF post on the same terms and conditions after ordinary or supplemental maternity leave.
Will doing a NIHR ACF mean that it takes me longer to undertake my clinical training compared to someone at the same level in the same specialty that is in full time clinical training?
Progression to CCT is competency based not time based, so having time protected for academic training should not affect CCT date provided the required clinical competencies are met. The NIHR ACF should not normally increase the training period so that a trainee undertaking three years of an NIHR ACF should progress clinically at the same rate as a clinical trainee undertaking three years of training. However, should additional time be required to complete CCT, trainees should consult their Postgraduate Dean or Postgraduate Dental Dean to agree a suitable date.
Can my academic training time be organised into blocks rather than taking 1 day out a week from my clinical role?
Yes it can, but academic training time must fit in with clinical rotas (See ‘Entry, Eligibility and Exit Points’ http://www.nihrtcc.nhs.uk/intetacatrain ) and with the academic training capacity in the local programme. Academic time can be organised in various ways including: • One day per week. • One week in four. • One month blocks. • Three month block per year. • Six month block in second year. • One nine month block.
What is the NIHR bursary for?
The NIHR bursary provides NIHR ACF and Clinical Lecturer trainees with a source of funding to attend meetings and conferences that are relevant to academic training.
How much money is available and how do I access it?
The NIHR provides £1,000 per financial year per trainee to your host Medical or Dental school. The Dental or Medical school is responsible for managing the bursary fund and your Medical or Dental school is therefore responsible for approving expenditure against the bursaries. Unclaimed bursary funds currently remain with the Medical or Dental school for use on activities that benefit the academic development or training of the NIHR ACF trainees.
Can I use my bursary for consumables?
No, the bursary cannot be used for consumables.
What if I don’t have any meetings or conferences to attend this year?
Attending academic meetings and conferences is an important part of your NIHR ACF training and if you do not attend meetings or conferences in any particular year this does not mean you can spend the money on something else. Locally within Warwick we allow you to ‘role over’ funding from one year to the next; however the absolute limit cannot be over run.
Can I apply to the bursary fund more than once/every year?
Your Medical/Dental school will clarify the process for applying. Locally we allow you to apply for bursary funding more than once, but again up to the limit of the bursary you are allocated.
What is the NIHR ACF research training programme?
From September 2009 each host Medical and Dental school must have in place a formal taught Research Training Programme (RTP) available to NIHR ACFs. The aim of this is to provide NIHR ACFs with generic training in research.
How do I access the NIHR ACF Research Training Programme?
All NIHR ACFs that came in to post after August 2009 must have access to the local Research Training Programme. Trainees that started prior to this date should ask their Medical or Dental School about local arrangements for existing trainees.
Does the NIHR pay for my research expenses?
No, the NIHR supports bursaries and Research Training Programmes, but not research expenses, including consumables.
What does the NIHR pay for?
The NIHR pays the NHS employer for the full basic (unbanded) salary costs of the trainee (for both clinical and academic elements), bursary for conference and travel, and the research training programme for NIHR ACFs. In addition, the NIHR provides financial support to the Deanery for the management of the NIHR ACF programme. NIHR also provides support for the Academy of Medical Sciences Mentorship and Outreach Scheme which is available to NIHR ACFs.
Do the NIHR pay banding?
No, this should be negotiated locally with the Trust.
What is the annual NIHR TCC trainees’ conference?
NIHR organises an annual conference for all NIHR trainees including NIHR ACFs in post. This conference is an opportunity to learn more about the NIHR, network with fellow trainees from all disciplines and present your own research.
Who should my employment contract be with?
NIHR ACFs are usually employed by a NHS Trust.
Should I have an honorary contract with the University?
In principle, yes. If this is not possible the university must ensure you have access to the university facilities e.g. libraries, IT support and training, and support for research governance.
Who should I speak to about obtaining an honorary academic contract?
Ideally it should be part of the contract package given to you at the start of the fellowship. If it is not you should approach email@example.com (the IAT Administrator) for guidance on the process and provision of the appropriate form.
Who do I speak to if I am having difficulty managing my research and clinical commitments?
In the first instance you should address your concerns to your local Academic and Clinical Leads who are responsible for managing the balance of your academic and clinical training needs or requirements.
What if I continue to have concerns?
You should raise your concerns with the Postgraduate Deanery.
What is the role of the NIHR TCC in managing the NIHR ACF programme?
The NIHR TCC is responsible for: • Working with Deanery, Medical and Dental Schools and NHS partnerships to deliver the NIHR ACF programme across England. • Producing national guidance for recruitment, monitoring and development of the programme. • Supporting trainees through its conference and other events. The NIHR TCC is not responsible for: • Employment contracts. • Local negotiations or decisions relating to clinical commitments or how your time is organised. However, we are always happy to provide you with information and direct you to the most appropriate local contact.
Can I apply for an Inter-Deanery transfer as a NIHR ACF trainee?
Yes. You may apply for an inter-deanery transfer as set out in the Gold Guide/Dental Gold Guide. For information about how to transfer the academic component of your training please contact NIHR TCC.
What happens next?
Ideally, trainees will have secured a doctoral research fellowship. If not, trainees will return to the clinical training pathway.
Is there a guarantee of a clinical lecturer post?
There is no guarantee of a clinical lecturer post. Trainees will need to apply in open national competition.
The webpage includes a number of documents for trainees and host organisations about the NIHR ACF programme. In addition, you can find information about other NIHR training opportunities, such as NIHR Fellowships and NIHR Clinical Lectureships.