About the Academic Training Programme

What is an ACF?

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academic Clinical Fellowships (ACF’s) are specialty training posts that incorporate academic training.

A NIHR ACF post is intended to support medical and dental trainees at the early stages of specialty training who wish to develop an academic career alongside their clinical training. Posts have 25% protected academic time for trainees to develop their academic research skills and prepare an application for a Fellowship award at Doctoral or appropriate level.

ACF’s spend 75% undertaking Clinical training and 25% in Research training.

Arrangements regarding Clinical and Academic time for ACF posts are agreed at a local level with the Clinical and Academic leads and should be organised to ensure trainee-centered flexibility with protected time for research.  ACFs will be able to develop their academic skills and be supported in preparing an application for a research training fellowship (to undertake a higher research degree). Success in these applications is defined as the endpoint of an ACF.

Academic time can be organised in various ways to equal 25% (9 months) of training:

  • One day per week 
  • One week in four
  • One month blocks
  • One 3-month block per training year for the 3 ACF years
  • One 6-month block in year 2
    (+ 3 months in any of the above ways in year 1 and/or 3)
  • One 9-month block (usually taken in year 3) 

ACF posts have a maximum duration of three years, or four years for GPs and GDPs, alongside clinical training.

What is an Academic CL?

NIHR Clinical Lectureships (CLs) are specialty training posts that incorporate academic training. CLs spend 50% of their time undertaking specialist clinical training and 50% undertaking research training. Within Wessex, CLs are employed by Southampton University and hold an honorary contract in the NHS Trust in which they work.

The NIHR will provide funding, via the Service Level Agreement with HEE, for the full salary costs of the trainee (for both clinical and academic elements) and a bursary for conference and travel (available through the University).

The arrangements regarding clinical and academic time for CL posts are agreed at a local level with academic and clinical leads, as well as the HEE local office. Academic time can be organised in various ways including, but not restricted to:

  • 2 ½ days per week
  • Monthly or yearly block

The duration of a CL is for a maximum of four years or until CCT/CCST is reached, whichever is sooner (see Section 27), and it is expected that CLs will complete or be close to completing their specialty training during this period. Progression to CCT/CCST is competency based (not time-based) so having time protected for academic training should not affect CCT/CCST date provided the required clinical competencies are met. However, for some craft specialties clinical training may take longer.

More information can be found on the NIHR website, and the Southampton University website.