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Are you interested in forging a clinical academic career?

Blog written by Pauline McDonald, R & D Officer – evidence based resources.

Taking the first steps on a journey towards a clinical academic career can be a somewhat daunting prospect. However, familiarising yourself with the opportunities that are available, and deciding whether those opportunities could enhance your career pathway, can be an empowering experience.

Leanne Miller qualified as an occupational therapist in 2004 and has specialised in hand therapy for the past 9 years. In 2010 she published an article in OT News ‘The journey from clinician to research associate’ (Miller, 2010). Leanne has since continued to develop a successful clinical academic career. Leanne is a Research Associate at the University of East Anglia and Senior Hand Therapist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and is currently the chair of a BAHT sub-committee (The Clinical Evidence Committee). In 2014 Leanne was awarded a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Academic Training Fellowship. Her PhD research, which will be funded by the award, is titled ‘A study to examine the treatment of sub-acute hand oedema post trauma’.  Leanne hopes that her own success can ‘inspire and motivate others to work towards their goals no matter how unachievable they think they are’.

A new scheme, the Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme for non-medical/dental healthcare professionals, has been launched by Health Education England (HEE) and NIHR. It replaces the Clinical Academic Training (CAT) programme through which Leanne was granted her award. The ICA Programme provides personal research training awards to help eligible professionals, including 12 allied health professions, develop careers that combine clinical research and research leadership with continued clinical practice and clinical development.  The awards cover five levels so that there are opportunities for those wanting to get onto the first rung of the ‘research ladder’ (e.g. Internships and Masters), as well as for individuals who are ready to take the next step forward on their career pathway. Three Personal Awards Competitions (Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowships; Clinical Lectureships; and Senior Clinical Lectureships) are anticipated to launch on 2nd March 2015 and close on 28th May 2015.

Whilst the ICA Programme provides valuable opportunities for those wishing to develop a clinical academic career, there are many other research opportunities out there. The Council for Allied Health Professions Research (CAHPR) regional hub network aims to support the development of individuals interested in research. There are hubs throughout the UK, each providing bespoke research advice and support. CAHPR hubs welcome contact from students, new and experienced researchers, clinicians, managers, consultants and academics from all Allied Health Professions. CAHPR is supported by 12 allied health profession member organisations, including the College of Occupational Therapists, and its website is hosted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. CAHPR’s mission is ‘to develop AHP research, strengthen evidence of the professions’ value and impact for enhancing service user and community care, and enable the professions to speak with one voice on research issues, thereby raising their profile and increasing their influence’.

The College of Occupational Therapists (COT) Research and Development Group also provides a range of resources and services to support BAOT members in their research and development activity. This includes responding to member enquiries, a range of publications and briefings, presenting at member events, providing funding opportunities for professional development, and running events to develop research skills. Research interested BAOT members can also subscribe to the fortnightly R&D email bulletin, ‘R&D@COT’, by contacting: lesley.gleaves@cot.co.uk

The COT Research and Development team is always keen to hear about the notable academic/research related achievements of BAOT members, so if you are successful in obtaining one of these awards, and would like to share your news, please do get in touch at: mandy.sainty@cot.co.uk.


Miller L (2010) The journey from clinician to research associate. Occupational Therapy News, 18 (11), 26-27.



2 thoughts on “Are you interested in forging a clinical academic career?

  1. I do hope this post will encourage OTs thinking about venturing into research and contributing to our evidence base – please share research stories here, keen OT researchers, to show us how it’s done and the possibilities for turning a specialism or abiding interest into a focus for research.

    Posted by Zoe Parker (@cotcpd) | February 26, 2015, 10:19


  1. Pingback: Enrich the mix – engage with COT and enhance your CPD portfolio | British Association of Occupational Therapists and College of Occupational Therapists - July 13, 2015

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