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NIHR Training Advocates Role Description




The NIHR Training Advocates have been established in order to promote research training opportunities initially to non-medical clinical professions. Advocates support the NIHR Academy in developing research capacity, give support and advice to both aspiring researchers and those already on a clinical academic pathway, and provide expert advice to NIHR in relation to their specific profession and area of interest.

The NIHR Training Advocates are a group of committed clinical academics who support the development of research capacity for registered healthcare professions across the NIHR. Advocates;

  1. Promote excellence in research capacity building
  2. Promote clinical academic careers, including options for career structures which could be supported by case study examples.
  3. Promote NIHR training and other career opportunities for their professional group
  4. Support clinical trainees looking to establish a clinical academic career, particularly in underrepresented professions
  5. Support NIHR training activities 
  6. Assist in the identification of facilitators and barriers to engagement with research training which may be general or profession specific

These aims are supported through activities including:

  • providing support and guidance for early stage clinical academic researchers, particularly in underrepresented professions
  • contributing to shared resources (such as presentations or articles promoting NIHR schemes for professional journals)
  • presenting at conferences and meetings
  • supporting NIHR training events, and signposting to relevant resources and materials
  • advocate in order to help the development of the  clinical academic career structures at an organisational level

The NIHR Academy supports the Advocates by:

  • providing accurate and up to date information on NIHR research training opportunities
  • developing mechanisms to capture Advocate activity, reach and impact
  • providing financial support for approved Advocate activities
  • providing a platform for sharing best practice
  • providing communication materials to support consistent messages pertaining to NIHR.

Professions Represented

Each professional group (currently physiotherapy, nursing, audiology and speech and language therapy, podiatry, dietetics, nutrition, psychology, occupational therapy, midwifery and healthcare science), has a Lead Advocate and plus a number of other Advocates the number of which will be determined by the size and complexity of the professional group.  Any expansion or change to the Advocate’s groups will be considered after evaluation and will be driven by NIHR strategic need.

Responsibilities of the NIHR Training Advocates

Advocates responsibilities include:

  • Promoting and supporting NIHR academic research opportunities to their profession
  • Signposting interested individuals to information, resources and individuals to assist in the development of their research activities or personal development as required
  • Identifying facilitators and barriers for their professional group in taking up such opportunities and communicate these with the Advocates Forum
  • Providing an annual report of Advocate activity to the NIHR Academy
  • Informing NIHR in advance of activities where Advocates are representing NIHR in a formal capacity.
  • Contributing to the Advocate Forum
  • Providing accurate information on the training opportunities offered by NIHR

Lead Advocates – Additional Responsibilities

The Lead Advocate is an established clinical academic researcher and will provide leadership, support and oversight of their profession’s Advocates. They may be asked to undertake additional activities to champion clinical academic careers with strategic partners.


The NIHR has access to a modest budget to support the communications and engagement activities.  While it is anticipated that support may be gained through partners appropriate to the advocate’s activity (ie ARCs, BRCs, CAHPR, Professional Bodies), funding is available to support Advocate activities.  Access to this needs to be approved in advance of any activity and can be applied for by contacting the NIHR Academy. 

Evaluating Impact

Establishing the impact of Advocate activity is important to ensure effort and resources are strategically allocated.  In order to support this, Advocates are asked to provide a report on activity every 12 months. In addition to activities, examples of impact will include:

  • Contact and reach of activities
  • Evidence of impact on processes and behaviours
  • Case studies which highlight impact of activities

Term of office

Tenure will normally be for three years and may in exceptional cases be extended beyond this.  Individuals who are unable to undertake activities in their capacity as a Training Advocate may be asked to stand down to enable recruitment of an Advocate with more capacity.

Frequency, location, timing and method of meeting

NIHR Training Advocates will meet annually to discuss Advocate activities and to receive updates on the NIHR funding opportunities from the NIHR Academy Executive.

Document Approval

The NIHR Training Advocates Role Description is approved by the Chair of the NIHR Training Advocates and the NIHR Assistant Director of the Integrated Pathways team.