Clinical Education – Teaching, Research and Leadership
Another important area for clinical academic staff is in clinical education. These academic staff may have a range of roles in teaching delivery and leadership, as well as a portfolio of original research. The route to become a clinical academic in clinical education can take a number of different paths. These include structured career paths, such as the NIHR Integrated Academic Pathway (for doctors and dentists) where medical (clinical) education is a priority research theme.
You can also apply for posts that allow dedicated time for teaching and/or clinical education research. In these roles you can gain experience of teaching design and delivery, programme management, as well as research skills. There are a number of such stand-alone clinical education posts in universities and healthcare organisations.
Other non-structured paths will involve you developing your educational skills within current training programmes. This gives you flexibility to plot your own trajectory, based on your interests and priorities, but you will need to proactively seek out opportunities. For example, you may want to take the lead in developing, and evaluating, teaching resources at your institution. In order to give you the confidence and skills to do this you may also want to consider undertaking post-graduate training courses, which focus on delivery and scholarship of education.
The more opportunities you take, the more you can develop your teaching and research skills. Interviews for academic clinical education posts further on in your career will often expect you to be able to demonstrate these skills.
In order to progress in clinical education it is often helpful for you to develop expertise in a particular area of education delivery or research.
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 an academic positions at a medical or dental school, where you will have dedicated time to fulfil particular responsibilities for the programme.
Having a good network of contacts will help you spot opportunities to develop your skillset or set up potential collaborations. The NIHR Incubator (weblink) is a dedicated network to support those individuals with interest in clinical education research. Another 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), the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE). Some of these have sub-specialty groups with specific interests in various areas that 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) or European Dental Students Association (EDSA).
Many higher education institutions are increasingly expecting those who wish to secure formal academic roles to have a relevant higher qualification, such as a Masters or Doctorate (MD or Ph.D.) in Medical or Clinical Education. This recognition of experience and expertise will be important for your career progression. As a medical or dental 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.
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
For further information on careers in clinical education have a look at a the new book ‘Starting Research in Clinical Education’, which is to be published by ASME and Wiley Blackwell in November 2023.