Letters

Clinical academic medicine

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7256.300/a (Published 29 July 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:300

Academics should be rewarded appropriately

  1. Peter L Weissberg (plw@mole.bio.cam.ac.uk), BHF professor of cardiovascular medicine
  1. University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 2QQ
  2. Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine, London SE11 5SP
  3. Department of Surgery, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London W1P 7LD
  4. Association of University Departments of General Practice, London SE11 6SP

    EDITOR—The Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal College of Physicians are to be congratulated for tackling the problem of recruitment and retention of clinicians in academic medicine and proposing potential solutions, as outlined by Savill.1 Although a clearly defined and secure career structure for talented potential academics should help to reverse the trend away from a research based clinical career, the potential negative effect of a substantially longer period in a training post should not be underestimated. Medicine is a hierarchical discipline in which status and income are related to perceived seniority. If academics are truly valued in British medicine then it is important that this is shown in more than just words.

    The academy (www.acmedsci.ac.uk) and the royal college2 both propose a defined second phase of training for those few talented individuals who have received competitive intermediate research training awards. Clinician scientists selected by this rigorous peer review process will therefore be of the highest calibre, and this should be reflected in their pay and status. This means that they must, at the very least, maintain parity with their NHS peers. They should enter the consultant pay scale after a period of training equivalent to the minimum that their NHS peers would have to complete to receive a certificate of completion of specialist training in their specialty. That this could be achieved through the “clinical senior lecturers without consultant contract” route is encouraging. The cost of such a scheme would be modest compared with its potential benefits. At the same time, an appropriately distinguished title should be conferred. This should be recognisable by patients and peers alike as a mark of both quality and seniority—for example, senior research physician/surgeon/practitioner. The title clinician scientist falls somewhat short of the mark.

    Finally, but importantly, specialist advisory committees should …

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