ACF programme in General Practice (GP)
NIHR ACF posts are usually available each year in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences (NDPCHS) each year. They are awarded in conjunction with the Oxford Deanery GP vocational training scheme.
Our ACFs are four-year specialty training posts, and recruitment is at ST1. From 2019 there can also be entry at ST2 and ST3. The programme prepares ACF doctors to pass the MRCGP examination with credit and gain specialist accreditation. It also supports those who wish to continue in academic general practice to obtain research funding.
Dr Oliver van Hecke is currently the GP ACF lead.
The Oxford Deanery GP Directorate (see here) is in the vanguard of innovation within UK GP training. It has a very strong record for supporting trainees in taking the MRCGP examination, with many achieving merits and distinctions. The teaching emphasises the skills needed to give the highest quality of clinical care.
Trainees normally take the MRCGP exam in Year 3. The majority completing the programme continue to work within the Thames Valley region and join practices that are active in teaching and research.
NDPCHS provides an outstanding environment for the development of trainee clinical researchers. It has an international reputation for developing innovative methods of research synthesis and research use to ensure that research findings change clinical practice. It:
- was the top-rated department in the UK for primary care research in the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise and the 2014 Research Excellence Framework
- hosts the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group and the Oxford Patient Experience Group
- is strongly involved in the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, NIHR Oxford CLAHRC, NIHR Community Healthcare MedTech and IVD Cooperative, and the Oxford Academic Health Science Network
- is a member of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.
There is a wealth of senior research expertise across methodologies and in a number of clinical areas. These include health behaviours, obesity and weight loss, infection and acute care, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and metabolic conditions, patient experiences, research methods, big data and evidence-based medicine. The department also has a strong cross-cutting stream of clinical research focusing on diagnostic technology and clinical monitoring (the NIHR Oxford Diagnostic Evidence Cooperative).
ACFs doctors spend 25% of their time in research and educational training, organised as follows:
For year posts
- Years 1 and 2 are mainly hospital based, though we encourage Fellows to participate in departmental postgraduate training activities where possible, and to plan their training programme early in their post
- Years 3 and 4 are split between clinical general practice (50%) and academic training (50%). The main academic focus is to undertake research projects leading to publications. ACFs also prepare a submission for a research training fellowship or, if applicable, post-doctoral research funding.
ST 2 entry 3 year posts will complete there ST2 hospital training and then follow years 3 and 4 as above. ST3 entry, 2 year posts will follow years 3 and 4 as above.
ACF doctors have an academic supervisor who acts as a mentor during the post. The academic supervisor also facilitates the development of research projects with senior researchers in the department.
All ACFs have the opportunity to undertake the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Research. It is recommended that at least one of three contributory modules be taken during Years 1 and 2, particularly during the six-month GP attachment (vs. the hospital attachments). For 2 and 3 year ACF posts there will be discussion about the best timings on a personal basis.
ACFs with an interest in research overseas may have an opportunity to involve themselves in international projects. However, conducting field-work overseas is usually not feasible because of the UK clinical training requirements. So, ACF research projects usually need to be UK based.
Last reviewed: September 2020