Clinical academic doctors are fully trained specialist or general practitioners who undertake research, teach undergraduate medical students and postgraduate trainees and deliver clinical practice in the NHS. Clinical academics provide patient care at the highest of levels while driving evolution of the treatment and prevention of disease through research and innovation. Their work is vital to educating the medical workforce of the future, and to the patients whom those doctors treat. 

The spirit of discovery and research is an essential part of the NHS, benefiting patients and public health. Medical research ensures that clinical practice is evidence-based and that patients receive best-practice, high-quality care. Learning that is led by clinicians who are actively engaged in research exposes students and trainees to world-class research, and offers added potential for them to be enthused and motivated by leading experts in their field who teach from their immediate research experience. As a result, clinical academics directly influence the international health agenda and drive innovation in the field of medicine.

Example career pathways

There is no one route into a career as a clinical academic; the pathway is flexible, to accommodate the multiple career stages at which medics may wish to pursue academic training.

Typically after finishing medical school an aspiring medical clinical academic would complete the two year Academic Foundation Programme (AFP). They may then wish to apply for academic fellowship and lectureship posts alongside their specialty training.

To aid your understanding of the different routes doctors take to become clinical academics, we have developed an interactive map which demonstrates some example career pathways for those who wish to become a medical clinical academic. This pathway is not exhaustive but is illustrative of the typical routes taken by doctors to become clinical academics.

Example career profiles

When thinking about your career options in clinical academia, it can help to hear from others who have decided to pursue academic training, and the routes they have taken. Explore the Inspiring Clinical Academics profile section to find out more.