Returning to research: Addressing the challenges of Omicron and future COVID-19 pandemics for clinical academic trainees


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, extraordinary challenges have been imposed on clinical academic trainees. The strict lockdown measures led to the closure of research institutions and laboratories, which, alongside the health emergency, meant large numbers of clinical academic trainees voluntarily returned to full-time clinical duties.

In response to the disruptions to clinical academic training and career progression, the Clinical Academic Training Forum (CATF) with support from the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans (COPMeD) and representatives from across the health sector, has produced guidance setting out principles and practical actions to help address the challenges of Omicron and future COVID-19 pandemics on this important workforce.

The following high-level principles were agreed to support future decision making and to encourage a consistent approach across the UK:

  • A coordinated approach is needed to manage disruption due to COVID-19 or similar disruptive event
  • Greater transparency in discussions among all parties
  • An emphasis that the return of academic trainees to support the clinical service is on a voluntary basis
  • Consideration of equality, diversity and inclusion issues, in particular to health, shielding or caring issues relevant to individual trainees
  • Appropriate future planning support for trainees following periods of disruption which should include adjustments to academic and clinical education

The guidance offers practical actions for those involved in progressing and supporting clinical academic training (postgraduate deans and training programme directors, universities and research institutes and funders) and the health professionals undertaking this training. It is hoped that this coordinated approach will help support health professionals returning to training and build resiliency into academic training pathways to meet future challenges caused by the pandemic or similar disruptive events.

Read the full guidance: Addressing the challenges of Omicron and future COVID-19 pandemics

News Archive