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ACFs enable doctors to undertake specialist or core clinical training alongside research training.

what is an ACF?

An ACF is a three-year post (or four years for GPs) which combines specialist or core training with 25% protected research time.

Many of the posts are funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) as part of the Integrated Academic Training Programme for doctors.

During protected time, the ACF doctor learns research techniques and generates preliminary data towards a research proposal.

Blocks of academic time can be taken in some specialties, encompassing a total of 9 months protected from clinical duties. In some specialties this academic time may be in the form of day release across the 3 years.

Usually, the end goal is for the doctor to apply to an external funding body for a research training fellowship leading to a doctorate. Funding bodies include the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

However, if you already have a doctorate, you may still apply for an ACF and undertake post-doctoral research. 

Who is eligible?

The programme is directed at those who:

  • have a strong academic and research background
  • have successfully completed their foundation training, and 
  • can demonstrate outstanding potential for development as a clinical academic.

Previous clinical academic experience may have been gained either at undergraduate level  or postgraduate level (Academic Foundation Programme or other research experience).

View more information and detailed criteria on the NIHR Academy website.

Or find out about our ACF programmes in Why Oxford? - Our ACFs.

Where next, after an ACF?

The aim of most ACF posts is to achieve appropriate clinical competencies, pass the required College exams, and obtain external funding for a doctorate (DPhil/PhD).

If funding applications are unsuccessful, or if a clinical academic pathway no longer appeals, then full-time clinical training is followed within the Deanery that hosts the ACF post (as part of guaranteed run-through for all ACF doctors).

If you already have a doctorate in an area relevant to academic medicine, you may be eligible to apply for a clinical lectureship (CL).