There are many different schemes that offer opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a clinical academic career. As there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to clinical academia, it will be up to you to decide what opportunities will suit you best, based on your career stage and interests. These opportunities will vary depending on your local area, so it is important to thoroughly research what is available to you. In addition, many pharmacists wishing to develop academic careers find having an experienced mentor helpful. Indeed, some schemes such as the NIHR Fellowship Programme specifically look for this.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) offer an online training programme through NIHR Learn. It aims to improve research awareness, knowledge and skills for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who are new to research and/or have minimal experience of research or research opportunities. You do not need to be an RPS member to access the programme, and NIHR Learn is open to anyone employed by or assisting the NIHR, the NHS, a UK university, or other publicly funded organisation conducting and supporting clinical research.
For more information visit the e-Learning for Pharmacy Professionals website.
The RPS also have a range of dedicated research support services available including
- Research and evaluation guides
- 1:1 Research Support Sessions
- Providing feedback on:
- Research proposals
- Grant applications
- Conference posters
- Journal articles and other publications
- Mock interviews
- Signposts to other research events to support development
- Mentoring opportunities
To find out more about the RPS research support, visit the Research Guidance & Support pages on the RPS website. Whilst some of these support services are specific for RPS members, all pharmacists may contact the RPS Research Team for more information via email@example.com.
Pharmacy Research UK
Pharmacy Research UK (PRUK) also offer a range of training and events (in addition to funding some pharmacy research usually preliminary exploratory research to support an application to a larger funder such as NIHR).
- For details of upcoming training and events, visit https://pharmacyresearchuk.org/training-and-events/
- For details of current opportunities for researchers, including funding and mentorship opportunities, visit https://pharmacyresearchuk.org/for-researchers/
PRUK can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Society for Academic Primary Care
The Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) runs a Prescribing and Medication Optimisation Special Interest Group. The group aims to bring together academics and clinicians working on prescribing and medication optimisation, including related education, to develop research ideas, promote collaboration and support dissemination. The group offers feedback on research ideas and initial stage proposals, including supporting early career researchers.
NIHR Research Support
The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) provides information for pharmacists interested in research. NIHR has invested in research infrastructure much of which offers training and development schemes. These include Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs), Patient Safety Research Collaborations (PSRCs), and Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs). Resources and facilities will vary regionally, so it is important to look into what schemes are running in your area.
The NIHR Schools also offer training and development opportunities for aspiring clinical academics. See the following websites for more information.
- NIHR School for Public Health Research
- NIHR School for Primary Care Research
- NIHR School for Social Care
The NIHR have a range of schemes including Research for Patient Benefit, Health and Social Delivery Research and Programme Grants. Many pharmacists have successfully delivered research funded by these programmes.
NIHR Fellowship Programme
The NIHR Fellowship Programme supports individuals in healthcare professions including pharmacy on their trajectory to becoming future leaders in health and social care NIHR research.
The programme offers four fellowships that have been designed to support individuals at various points of their development in becoming leading researchers, from initial pre-doctoral training to senior post-doctoral research. These offer support for the following career stages:
- Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
- Development and Skills Enhancement Award
- Doctoral Fellowship
- Advanced Fellowship
Fellowship Funding schemes in Scotland
The Chief Scientist Office in Scotland also provides funding for fellowships at Pre-Doctoral, Doctoral, and Post-Doctoral levels, which are open to Pharmacists working in the NHS in Scotland. More information can be found at the CSO website.
NIHR Insight Programmes (England only)
The NIHR Academy's new INSIGHT scheme aims to attract students in registered healthcare, social work and public health professions (excluding doctors and dentists) into the full range of research careers.
The scheme will provide three years of funding for institutionally-led regional programmes in England to deliver:
- Innovative engagement programmes that showcase and attract people into the full range of research careers, including careers that combine research and practice
- Research Masters Studentships that provide valuable training for individuals who may have had limited exposure to real world research during their training to date