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Student Careers

A career in academic medicine

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 13 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3506
  1. M W Mather, fifth year medical student 1,
  2. R J Piper, fourth year medical student2,
  3. R Dbeis, third year medical student3,
  4. J Gupta, third year medical student4
  1. 1Newcastle Medical School, Newcastle, UK
  2. 2College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth, UK
  4. 4School of Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds. UK

How to become an academic clinician

Academic medicine is “a loosely defined term that describes the branch of medicine pursued by doctors who engage in a variety of scholarly activities.”1 But what are these scholarly activities? Broadly speaking, academic medicine can be divided into research, teaching, and leadership.1 No one role is identical, and academic clinicians often juggle multiple responsibilities as part of their job. Indeed, this variety may be something that attracts doctors to academic medicine.

How do you become an academic clinician?

Many research teams welcome medical students to help with their project, and many people find their way into research simply by talking to their lecturers or consultants. One of the earliest opportunities for a graduate to engage in academic medicine is through the Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) in the UK. The programme provides medical graduates with an opportunity to undertake academic training and study while acquiring all the clinical competencies that are required from a junior doctor.2 The programme has subspecialties ranging from primary care to surgery, allowing you to pursue a career in academic, clinical, or other branches of medicine. There are about 450 AFP places offered across the UK every year,3 and you can read more in the accompanying article by Rhys Davies (doi:10.1136/sbmj.g3343).4

After you have completed the foundation programme, an academic clinical fellowship is an ideal route to gain academic skills such as writing grants and designing clinical trials as well as specialty training. The fellowship can be combined with training in primary care, medical specialties, or surgical specialties. The training posts available will depend on the deanery that you apply to. How your time is split will vary from one specialty to another, but it is usually 75% clinical and 25% academic, divided into placements of weeks or months. Sometimes there …

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