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In-Practice Fellowship Chair's Report 2021


Published: 07 October 2021

Version: 1.0 (Oct 21)

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The NIHR In-Practice Fellowship (IPF) offers pre-doctoral academic training to GPs and General Dental Practitioners. The programme is open to GPs/GDP at all career stages and was designed to provide entry level training for clinicians who potentially haven’t held any previous formal academic post.

In recent years, the programme has also been opened up to Academic Clinical Fellows (ACFs) if they can describe a clear and distinct additional training need to be met before progressing to doctoral study.

Comments from Chair and Selection Committee

The committee continue to welcome both the diversity and strength of clinical scholarship presented in applications to the scheme. Applicants come to the scheme with diverse experiences which include both ‘traditional’ research activity (supporting research, research training, published writing) and applied clinical scholarship (the critical use of knowledge and data to change, improve, lead and learn from on-the-ground practice and policy). These accounts of professional practice provide the committee with valuable evidence of individual’s potential for research training. We encourage applicants to think widely when collating examples of their past work which provides examples of their capacity for critical thinking.

IPF is an entry level training scheme for clinicians looking to develop an academic career. The committee recognises that academic careers are increasingly diverse and welcome applications intended to support a variety of projected outcomes. But the committee invites applicants to describe that trajectory - beyond the IPF and indeed the doctoral application that will follow. Successful applicants are able to describe how the IPF, and the academic training, fits a longer term career development plan to make a difference in the applicants’ area of work. These statements help the committee understand what motivates you, the applicant, and why.

The IPF scheme now accepts applications from people who have completed a pre-doctoral ACF programme. However, applications must clearly identify a specific and additional training need necessary to support a successful doctoral application. IPF cannot be used as bridging funding.

The committee have been disappointed to receive a number of poorly prepared institutional statements in the last couple of years. The quality of training and career development support potentially offered by the host institution and supervisor arrangements are a key consideration for the committee when assessing applications. We strongly advise that academic leads at host institutions prioritise the preparation of personalised statements, written by the supervisors and not the applicant, providing the committee with details on how the applicant will be supported in both addressing their research training needs and wider career planning.

The committee are particularly keen to receive more applications from General Dental Practitioners. We are working to raise awareness of the scheme with Deaneries, and in partnership with the Academic Primary Dental Care group in the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC).

Finally, the committee wishes to highlight that this is a clinical academic award. Applicants are required to demonstrate evidence of a continuing clinical commitment through their fellowship. However, the committee also encourages all applicants to describe their intentions for an integrated career as a clinical scholar – how research makes you a better clinician and vice versa, for example, the application could describe how the academic part of the award will link to your clinical practice and will make a difference to patients and the public in primary care. Also how being a clinician will impact on their role as a researcher.

Joanne Reeve
Chair, IPF Selection Committee