Pharmacists will be able to apply for government funding from autumn 2014 to enrol in an internship scheme aimed at developing research skills.
The new programme offers the opportunity to learn about all aspects of clinical academic research from trial design to data management and to take part in a practical research project.
The aim of the scheme is to develop research skills across all levels of the NHS to boost evidence-based practice and to create a national network of clinical academics, according to Health Education England (HEE), the organisation responsible for NHS training in England.
HEE is due to make a formal announcement on pharmacists’ eligibility for funding.
Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society
The scheme was welcomed by Beth Allen, head of research at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).
“Research is central to all pharmacists’ practice and professional development,” she says. “This funding represents one route to a clinical research career, where the clinician works in both academia and practice, on translational research that has real potential to benefit their patients in the medium term.”
The move was described as “a significant piece of workforce development policy” by Ian Bates, head of educational development at the UCL School of Pharmacy.
“[It] paves the way for parity across professions for clinical and faculty academic careers,” he says. “Although this may not seem to have direct relevance to many in the profession, in time we will look back to see this as a vital action.”
The internship programme has been added to HEE’s reorganised Clinical Academic Training (CAT) programme, which also offers pharmacists the chance to get funding for a Masters in research, a Masters in clinical research, a clinical doctoral research fellowship, a clinical lectureship and a senior clinical lectureship.
From 2014, pharmacists have been eligible to apply for funding from the CAT scheme – which has been renamed the Integrated Clinical Academic Scheme as part of the reorganisation – at Masters and PhD level.
Applications to the extended programme, which includes the new internships, will open in autumn 2014.