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Walport / Academic Clinical Fellowships – An Insider’s Guide. Joanna Dowman Academic Clinical Fellow in Gastroenterology Birmingham. Outline. What is a Walport / Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF)? Applying for an ACF Locations and number of Gastroenterology ACF posts available

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Walport / Academic Clinical Fellowships – An Insider’s Guide

Joanna Dowman

Academic Clinical Fellow in Gastroenterology


Outline l.jpg

  • What is a Walport / Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF)?

  • Applying for an ACF

  • Locations and number of Gastroenterology ACF posts available

  • Advantages and disadvantages of an ACF

  • How might an ACF influence your career path?

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What is an Academic Clinical Fellowship?

  • Aimed at specialist trainees who can demonstrate potential as a clinical academic

  • Protected time for research leading to application for PhD / higher degree

  • Issued with NTN (A)

  • Duration up to 3 years

  • 75% time in clinical training; 25% in research

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My ACF – Year 1

  • Started ACF December 2006

  • Clinical training in large DGH

    • Usual SpR duties

      eg. endoscopy, clinics, on-calls

  • 1 day/week in liver research labs

  • Experience of basic lab techniques

    eg. cell culture, immunohistochemistry, PCR,

    Western blots

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ACF - Year 2

  • Clinical work at QEH Liver Unit

  • 1 week in 4 spent in research

  • Currently working on 2 projects

    (NASH related)

  • Aim to apply for research training fellowship later this year

    • (Wellcome trust, MRC, CORE)

  • Start PhD next year if successful

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What if I don’t obtain funding or don’t like research?

  • ACF trainee will rejoin non-academic clinical specialty training programme

    • If unsuccessful in obtaining fellowship after 3 years

    • If no longer wishes to continue research

  • An ACF does not represent

    a commitment to a

    PhD or academic career

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Applying for an ACF - Eligibility

  • Trainee must be eligible to apply for specialty training post or already hold SpR / StR post

  • Not aimed at individuals with PhD although not excluded

  • Open to FTSTAs

  • Applicants may also apply for non-academic specialty training

  • Part-time ACFs are an option; maximum of 5 yrs

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Application Process

Described in detail on

NCCRCD website:



  • Completed application form

  • Ability to ‘demonstrate outstanding potential as a clinical academic in research and/or education’

  • Academic referee

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Availability of ACF posts

  • Total 250 ACFs in 2008

  • Spread across country

  • Most specialties included

  • Relatively few in

    Gastroenterology – 30 ACFS

    between 2006-2010 across

    6 centres

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Academic Clinical Fellowships




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Benefits of an ACF..

  • Juggling full-time clinical work with research is difficult

  • ACF provides opportunity to continue clinical training with dedicated research time set aside

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More Benefits of an ACF..

  • More informed decision prior to undertaking higher research degree

  • Acquisition of basic lab knowledge/skills allowing immediate commencement of project later

  • Strong position when applying for research training fellowship

    • Established potential as clinical academic

    • Project to be undertaken in major research centre

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Even More Benefits of an ACF..

  • Publications

  • Attending / presenting at

    academic meetings

  • Networking

  • Experience and skills gained

    will be useful whatever

    your future career

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Disadvantages of an ACF

  • Less time for clinical training –

    a potentially greater problem in

    procedure-oriented specialties

  • But training now competency rather than time based

    - no longer a time-served requirement

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Disadvantages of an ACF

  • Initial teething problems for first

    cohort of ACFs –

    • lack of structure in research setting

    • unfamiliarity with scheme in

      clinical setting

    • should improve with experience

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ACF – What Next?

  • Option to resume non-academic

    clinical specialist training

  • Apply for Clinical Lectureship (CL)

    • Part of integrated academic pathway

    • 50% research, 50% clinical

    • Requires prior completion of PhD

      or equivalent

    • Duration up to 4 yrs

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ACF – What Next?

  • After Clinical Lectureship, may proceed to Intermediate/Senior Lectureship or Clinician Scientist Fellowship

  • Additional opportunities for career progression through:

    • Networking

    • Presentations

    • Publications

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  • ACFs offer unique opportunity

    to combine clinical and academic training

  • Duration 3 yrs - 75% clinical; 25% research

  • Prepare trainee to undertake PhD/higher degree

  • May continue research as Clinical Lecturer

  • Many additional opportunities:

    • Publishing; conferences; networking

  • Main disadvantage is reduction in

    clinical training time