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Clinical academic research funding a boon

A barrier to undertaking postgraduate study is often money — this and knowing where to start.

A barrier to undertaking postgraduate study is often money — this and knowing where to start. Have you ever fancied getting involved in research? The same could be said for that, which is why a recent decision that pharmacists in England would be eligible for clinical academic research funding is such a boon.

This is indeed good news for pharmacy, given that, before now, the clinical academic training programme run by the National Institute for Health Research and Health Education England was only available to nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

So what could this mean for you? Pharmacists who have worked for a minimum of one year are eligible to apply for clinical doctoral research fellowships and masters in clinical research places on the programme. Salary and tuition fees are covered by the funding. In essence, successful applicants will be able to combine their clinical practice with an academic role that allows them to develop as researchers.

A lot has happened in the background to get to this point. The Modernising Pharmacy Careers programme board had made recommendations around the development of the clinical academic workforce, which led to the establishment of a task and finish group, chaired by Peter Noyce and made up of a range of stakeholders, academics and clinicians.

The Journal understands that the NIHR had been receiving queries about whether pharmacists could access the programme and with the creation of HEE in April 2013 came the chance for a rethink. This new development for pharmacy — driven by the task and finish group in collaboration with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and HEE — is just one step in the process of reviewing the programme’s effectiveness and funding.

The profession needs to seize the opportunity on offer here. We would suggest that there needs to be a good volume and quality of applicants to the masters and PhD programmes, or it will be difficult to build the case for future expansion of the funding to the full academic pathway. It will take leadership, enthusiasm and commitment locally to make this work. RPS members looking for support in building an application for NIHR funding can contact practiceresearch@rpharms.com.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11132605

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