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Developing the medical research community of the future is a UK national priority, and there is a clear career pathway for clinical academics.

There is a transparent and flexible career path for postgraduate academic doctors. It includes both foundation and specialty-level posts. Progression is then onto clinical academic posts at consultant level.

It is also possible to start getting involved in research as an undergraduate, in preparation for a career as a clinical academic.

Explore the different stages of a clinical academic career on the left menu, or read an overview of the pathway below.

For information about Oxford's programmes, specifically, read Our Clinical Academic Programmes.

Please note that the nature of clinical academic posts may be different in Scotland and Wales.

Clinical academic posts for doctors and surgeons in training

These posts enable trainees to gain both clinical and research competencies. Both sets of competencies are reviewed annually through the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) process.

The posts offer protected research time, starting with the Academic Foundation Programme (AFP), then Academic Clinical Fellowships (ACFs) through to Clinical Lectureships (CLs). The latter enable you to complete your specialist training whilst engaging in post-doctoral research.

For a clinical academic career, a DPhil/PhD is the crucial qualification needed, in addition to successful clinical training. 

Other routes to a clinical academic career

Having a clinical academic training post is not crucial to developing a research career, although it does provide ring-fenced research time.

The main thing to note is that getting a research degree, whether a DPhil/PhD or MD, is now vital in the UK to allow successful application to research funders for senior career development posts. 

Many doctors have successfully obtained DPhil/PhD funding without having either an academic foundation post or an academic clinical fellowship (ACF). What has been important is that they have looked for research opportunities wherever they are and have become involved in ongoing research projects alongside their clinical work.

It is also common for doctors to dip in and out of the clinical academic training pathway. At times they will focus on clinical work and do not need to have had an ACF post to apply, for example, for a clinical lecturer post. This makes career development very flexible and there is room for doctors to develop a research interest fairly late in their training.

more information

Explore the Medical Research Council's (MRC) interactive research careers frameworks.

Visit Women in Science for video interviews with Oxford clinical academics (and others) who share their career experiences.

View profiles and career paths of some of our clinical academic doctors.