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In-Practice Fellowship Chair's Report 2022


Published: 24 November 2022

Version: 1.0

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Round 16 (2022)


The NIHR In-Practice Fellowship (IPF) offers pre-doctoral academic training to General Practitioners (GPs), General Dental Practitioners (GDPs) and Community Dentists, 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.

IPF Round 16 Competition (2022)

The sixteenth round of the IPF scheme competition launched on 10th February 2022 and closed on 24th March 2022. The numbers of applications received and awards made are detailed in Annex A at the end of this document along with some analysis of applications and awards made.

Observations and Advice for Prospective Applicants

The Chair and the Deputy Chair of the Selection Committee have made observations of the general strengths and weaknesses of the Round 5 applications and discussed areas that future applicants should consider to strengthen their applications. These are summarised below.

Previous research/academic experience

The In-Practice Fellowship (IPF) scheme was designed to offer ‘entry level’ research training to General Practitioners (GPs), General Dental Practitioners (GDPs) and Community Dentists who have not previously had a chance to undertake formal research training. In recent years, the scheme has also been open to people who have completed Academic Clinical training during their GP Vocational Training Scheme.

The Selection Committee would like to offer clarity to all potential applications on what makes a strong application. To confirm, we do not expect applicants to have completed previous research training. We do, however, ask applicants to describe how their previous professional experience and expertise has led them to consider research as an important next step in their career development. We invite applicants to demonstrate, through their application, their commitment to improving health and healthcare through research, and their potential to benefit from research training.

Research and practice experience to date

The IPF selection committee are looking for GPs, GDPs and Community Dentists who are committed to enhancing their professional contribution to healthcare through research – the systematic study of something to enhance our understanding and practice. There are many different ways to contribute to healthcare through research and scholarship and so many different academic clinical research career paths. When we read your application, we need to be able to understand why you personally are committed to improving healthcare through research.

You may have been involved in some research and of course we want to hear about this (and understand how it links to the application you are now submitting). We also encourage you to think more broadly when preparing your application. You might, for example, describe a piece of work you have done as part of your clinical role (an audit, a report for a local service, some reading) that helped you realise how and why research was the ‘next step’ needed to develop your ideas further.

Your application needs to demonstrate your potential to benefit from research training. We want to see examples of your experience in the approaches that are needed for research such as:

  • asking the right question
  • systematically collecting and using data to develop understanding of a topic
  • sharing research findings with colleagues.

You may have done some research training – short courses, or even Masters modules, but we also want to know about other work in these areas that you have done. Examples could include the work you did to develop an audit question for your practice through to working with your local CCG/ICS to understand local service provision. Outputs of this work could be:

  • a teaching session you delivered to staff in your practice or at a Protected Learning Session
  • a report you wrote for a local management group
  • you may have published a research paper, but we also welcome examples of other types of writing – blogs, articles for other publications.

We are looking for examples of your ability to use data to write critically – as evidence of your potential to benefit from further research.

We therefore encourage applicants to tell us why and how they see research and scholarship will enhance their contribution to developing and delivering future healthcare, and to their career. In telling this story in your application, we encourage applicants to think broadly and creatively, and work closely with their potential supervisors and where appropriate, previous award holders to develop their application. The IPF scheme is fortunate to have an experienced Selection Committee skilled in assessing a diverse range of applications to identify the potential for academic development.

Number of applications

We saw a slightly smaller number of applications to the IPF scheme in 2022 but we were pleased to receive a range of high-quality applications and were able to fund 14 applications, which is a higher number than in recent rounds. Supporting statements from host organisations were also much stronger this year, being tailored to the individual candidate – for which we thank all involved.

Guidance for ACF applicants

GPs who have undertaken ACF training may also apply for the scheme if they can demonstrate a clear learning gap in their training and therefore a justified reason for further predoctoral training. We encourage those who have completed an ACF to consider carefully whether IPF or other Doctoral programmes, such as the Doctoral Research Fellowship, is the best scheme for them. IPF will not fund ACFs who are looking for additional time to ‘finish off’ work from their ACF including preparing papers for publication or background reviews for a doctoral fellowship application.

Geographical spread of applicants

The Selection Committee noted that we continue to receive applications from a relatively small number of host institutions. We are keen to broaden the capture area of the scheme to universities across England. Academic primary care is integral to future delivery of quality primary care with expertise needed throughout the primary care geographical community. We know that IPFs tend to continue their doctoral training in the region in which they have trained. We are therefore keen to see IPF applications from across the English primary care footprint. In the coming year we will be working with many stakeholders to continue to deliver the scheme.

Consideration towards dental applicants

The Selection Committee is concerned that applications from GDPs remain low and we would welcome feedback from GDP colleagues on ways that we might address this ongoing concern. Please contact with any comments or suggestions.

Useful Resource for Prospective Applicants

  • The Round 16 (2022) IPF Applicant Guidance Notes are available from the IAT webpages. These provide details of the IPF scheme, including the eligibility requirements, the funding available, the required employment arrangements and the assessment criteria used by the IPF Selection Committee when reviewing applications. The Applicant Guidance Notes should be read in full before starting an application.
    Please note – Updated Guidance Notes will be published with the launch of the Round 17 competition. Applicants must ensure that they are referring to the most recent Applicant Guidance Notes when making an application.
  • The Applicant Guidance Notes for the NIHR Doctoral Fellowship scheme are also available via the NIHR webpages. The guidance details the questions on the doctoral fellowship application form and the eligibility requirements for the scheme.
  • Award holders are listed on the NIHR webpages and may be a useful resource for prospective applicants wishing to link in with other clinical academics.

Awards Summary

Competition RoundTotal Eligible ApplicationsRecommendedAwarded
4 (2010) 11 8 8
5 (2011) 14 8 7
6 (2012) 16 12 8
7 (2013) 19 10 10
8 (2014) 18 10 10
9 (2015) 22 10 10
10 (2016) 14 10 10
11 (2017) 24 10 10
12 (2018) 19 10 10
13 (2019) 28 10 10
14 (2020) 19 10 10
15 (2021) 15 10 10
16 (2022) 20 14 14

Round 16 IPF Applications and Success rate by Region

East Midlands 0 0
East of England 2 1
London 4 4
North East 1 0
North West 2 1
South Central 2 1
South East Coast 0 0
South West 4 3
West Midlands 1 1
Yorkshire and the Humber 4 3
Total 20 14

Round 16 IPF Applications and Success rate by Sex

Male 6 4
Female 14 10
Prefer not to say 0 0
Total 20 14

Round 16 IPF Applications and Success rate by Profession

General Practitioner 18 12
General Dental Practitioner 1 1
Community Dentist 1 1
Total 20 14