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The University of Southampton
Southampton Clinical Academic Training Scheme

Why academic medicine?

Research has led to profound advances in our capacity to prognosticate and prevent, diagnose and treat disease.  Clinical academics sit at the centre of those advances – through an ability to see the clinical need; work with others to answer research questions; and deliver the answers to those questions back into clinical care.  This is a huge privilege.

SoCATS aims to help identify the clinical academics of the future and support them in their training as they work towards becoming the research leaders of the future.

What is it like?

No two clinical academics will give the same answer to this question. The amount and type of research an individual does, and the balance with clinical practice, varies very significantly.  Some clinical academics are talented basic scientists, some are epidemiologists or trialists – one of the huge advantages of a career in academic medicine is the variety it offers.

Alongside opportunity sits challenges – to balance clinical time, to secure funding, to remain competitive.  The best way to see for yourself is to speak to clinical academics about their research pathways and careers.  Any of the SoCATS Board or Academic Leads would be very help to share their own experiences and observations with you.

I could not recommend more highly the blend of research, education and clinical practice that a clinical academic career has given me: it's a crime to be paid in my job.

How do I do it?

There is no single route to becoming a clinical academic; opportunities can and will arise throughout your training.  The NIHR research pathway is shown below.

NIHR academic pathway

NIHR academic pathway

Diagram showing different pathways clinical academics may follow

NIHR IAT pathway

However, it is important to realise that there are other ways to experience clinical academia, and to investigate whether it is for you.  These might include being part of a research project as a medical student, or considering an intercalated degree.  If you are not lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the Academic Foundation Programme you can still seek out opportunities for involvement in research.  Many young clinicians join the Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF) scheme with a view to undertaking a PhD, but research fellowships are still possible even if you do not sit in one of those schemes.

The most important thing you can do is speak to people about your interest, and seek out and follow up on opportunities. As always, the SoCATS Committee would be very happy to help point you in the right direction. 

Good luck! 

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