We live in a time of new and exciting developments at the cutting edge of clinical practice. Working as a clinical academic means that you get to treat your patients while also helping to shape the future of medicine. The academic component of your role will directly help to improve patient care by generating new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease.
Clinical academic careers present a unique set of opportunities. These are jobs full of exciting challenges, involving direct engagement with the latest breakthroughs in your field. This can mean life-long intellectual stimulation for those who are interested in driving advances in clinical practice.
You will have a more varied and flexible career path compared to clinical work alone. A clinical academic career will give you a greater degree of autonomy over your work, with the ability to tailor your career to your interests. Your dual role means the working week is never ‘just’ lab work or ward shifts. You will carry out some research and/or teaching, and potentially have greater access to managerial and representative roles. There is also more scope to vary your areas of interest and activity over the course of your career.
Your work can have real impact. The findings of your research can lead to discoveries which improve patient care, help shape treatments, and influence treatment guidelines based on the latest innovations. You will have opportunities to drive culture change within healthcare systems.
There will be many opportunities for collaboration and networking. Clinical academic careers present opportunities to travel to collaborate with international colleagues and research networks. These are hugely respected roles that often come with a higher profile, including speaking at conferences and public engagement events.
A clinical academic career offers many opportunities for personal development and progression. You will have the chance to build new skills and abilities, include research design and data analysis, teaching and communication, and leadership skills.
There are of course many challenges that will come with a clinical academic career. Clinical academic careers are highly competitive with significant competition for posts and research grants. They can be very demanding roles, with the pressure to balance your clinical and academic work, manage competing priorities, apply for funding and stay up to date on all the latest research findings.
You will need to be very independent and extremely resilient. Not all supervisors are able to offer the tailored advice and support you may need, particularly when it comes to funding. You will need to research and apply for your own research grants and will not always be successful. Despite these hurdles, if you want a career where the work is highly rewarding, where you can be challenged, and get an enormous sense of achievement from making a difference to the future of healthcare, then clinical academia may be for you.