NHS Careers > Working in the NHS > Developing your career > Clinical academic careers

Clinical academic careers

As your healthcare career develops, you will have the opportunity to move into different areas and responsibilities. A growing area is clinical research where funded training towards recognised qualifications is available.

Check out our video about clinical academic careers, which shows real healthcare professionals talking about their clinical research work.

A full transcript of the video can be viewed here.

Healthcare professionals across the country deliver the best possible care. Critical to this, is having the best evidence available to inform clinical decisions and these are often based on results from a range of research studies.

Academic research is a fast-growing career pathway for healthcare professionals, and is supported by government funding. The training undertaken leads to qualifications such as Masters degrees and PHDs. The research projects done as part of your training will also help your patients and those across the country every day by improving the care delivered. The results of your research may also be used for educational purposes e.g. training new healthcare professionals.

Types of clinical research programmes

There are a number of funded research programmes available within the NHS. These programmes tend to follow a structured pathway, which includes the following levels:

    • Internships
    • Masters in Clinical Research
    • Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowships
    • Clinical Lectureships
    • Senior Clinical Lectureships.

There may also be some additional support opportunities for trainees in the Mentorship programme.

When can I start?

Potentially, you can start your academic research training (i.e. Masters degree) directly after registration. However, it is more likely that this will happen after some experience in clinical work. There are also new opportunities to undertake internships that help prepare you for working in a research environment.

As well as a national training programme, run by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), you may also find opportunities locally. These schemes are usually run in partnership between employers and local universities. 

Where can I find out more?

For more information about the different research programmes available, visit the NIHR website