Another important clinical academic role is that of the Clinical Educator. These posts have a greater emphasis on developing skills and expertise in teaching, rather than solely conducting original research. This may consist of lecturing, small group facilitation, clinical skills teaching, clinical communication skills teaching, or teaching within a clinical placement.
These are often less structured career paths than those with a focus on research, and where structured programmes are offered, such as Academic Foundation Programme jobs, they may be more competitive than those that are research-based. Although this may make it more difficult to plot your career path, it does also give you greater flexibility to plot your own trajectory based on your interests and priorities. This means using your initiative and proactively seeking out opportunities to stand out will be vital. For example, you may want to take the lead in developing student-led teaching resources at your institution. Try to take opportunities throughout your undergraduate and postgraduate training to get involved in teaching activities, including in the clinical environment such as bedside teaching, as well as education research projects.
The more opportunities you are able to find to take on teaching responsibilities, the more you can develop your skills. Interviews for medical education posts further on in your career will often expect you to be able to demonstrate your teaching skills.
Having a good network of contacts will help you spot opportunities to develop your skillset or set up potential collaborations. An excellent way to meet people with a similar interest in clinical education is to attend conferences such as those organised by The Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) or the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE). Some of these have sub-specialty groups with specific interests in various areas that medical students can join, such as the Junior Association for the Study of Medical Education (JASME) or Trainees in the Association for the Study of Medical Education (TASME).
Many higher education institutions are increasingly expecting those who wish secure formal teaching roles to obtain a teaching qualification such as an PGCert, PGDip, or a Masters in Medical or Clinical Education, particularly one that is accredited to a body such the Academy of Medical Education. These can be completed during your Foundation training (part-time), and are sometimes funded and incorporated into an Academic Foundation Programme or if you undertake a Clinical Education Fellowship.
This recognition of experience and expertise will be important for your career progression. As a medical student you may also be able to intercalate to study for a Masters in Clinical Education.
The Academy of Medical Educators (AoME) has a list on their website of their accredited courses. This list is not exhaustive, and there are other options for medical education that are not AoME affiliated.
AdvanceHE sets out the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) for benchmarking success within higher education teaching and learning support. The PSF identifies components of successful teaching and learning and describes four categories of Fellowship that can be achieved by staff working in higher education roles. You can find more information about the Fellowship roles on the Advance HE website.
Submission of a reflective case demonstrating the teaching activities you do, against the standards they describe can allow for recognition and the award of Fellowship of HEA or Member of AoME, both of which entitle you to add letters after your name.
To work towards a Clinical Educator role you may wish to apply for posts that allow some degree of teaching and/or learning activities. Within these roles you may gain experience in teaching, assessment standard-setting, writing assessment items and OSCE stations or taking part in medical schools admissions activity.
There are also a number of stand-alone clinical education posts available at medical schools across the UK, such as Clinical Education Fellowships, or Anatomy Demonstrator. These are typically undertaken full-time for one year and are often popular with those who are interested in medical education and are taking an F3 year.
These may be contracted posts after obtaining your Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), or before this point in a year out of programme, such as in a clinical teaching/education fellow role.
In order to progress in a clinical education role it is important for you to develop expertise in particular area of education, such as assessment, curriculum development, admissions, student support (academic and pastoral), outreach, or Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).
You may have the option to apply for an honorary title at a university in recognition of the skills and knowledge you have acquired. Alternatively you may apply for more formal positions at a medical school, where you have dedicated time in which you fulfil a role with responsibilities for a particular area of the course.
The Academy of Medical Educators – provide accreditation to some clinical education courses as well as guidance and resources for those pursuing a career in medical education. They also set out professional standards of a medical educator.
AdvanceHE Fellowships - awarded in recognition of a personal and institutional commitment to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education
Association for the Study of Medical Education – their website provides information on courses and projects, and they run annual conferences.
Association for Medical Education in Europe – run annual conferences, award grants, and provide training opportunities
NIHR Clinical Education Incubator - aims to build capacity, develop careers and realise the impact of Clinical Education Research