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HEE-NIHR Integrated Clinical and Practitioner Academic Programme

The Health Education England (HEE) / NIHR Integrated Clinical and Practitioner Academic (ICA) Programme provides research training awards for health and social care professionals, excluding doctors and dentists, who wish to develop careers that combine research and research leadership with continued practice and professional development. 

Managed by NIHR and funded by Health Education England (HEE), the ICA Programme supports  health and care professionals  (excluding doctors and dentists) to develop careers that combine research  with continued  practice and professional development (Clinical or Practitioner Academic careers).

The ICA Programme comprises four schemes that each support individuals at different stages of their research career:

  • HEE Internship Scheme
  • HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) Scheme
  • HEE/NIHR Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (DCAF) Scheme
  • HEE/NIHR Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF) Scheme

In addition, doctoral and post-doctoral award holders can access funded career mentorship through the ICA Programme’s bespoke Mentorship Scheme.

The programme also offers short duration Bridging Awards, which support development of  doctoral or post-doctoral award applications.

All awards require the support of an English health or social care provider and a university, which form a partnership to further the career aspirations of the awardee.

Applicants to the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme schemes must hold registration with one of the ICA approved regulatory bodies or have plans in place to hold the required registration by the proposed award start date.

Further information

Call: 0113 532 8401

Email: Academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk and please detail which scheme you are enquiring about in the subject area.

Internships

Internships are short duration awards for individuals with little or no research experience. They deliver a range of taught and academically supervised components that engage and expose the award holder to a research environment. Interns develop the practical skills required to undertake a research project or to develop a project idea, supported by an expert supervisor.

The award covers salary costs for the days undertaking the Internship and away from their health or care role.

ICA Internships are managed by local HEE teams.  Further details of the scheme and contact details for your local team are available from the HEE-NIHR Clinical Academic Career web pages.

Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF)

Formerly the Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship.

The HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) scheme offers salaried time to develop a doctoral fellowship application and to undertake funded academic training that will equip awardees with the skills and experience to access doctoral level funding.

The PCAF is open to early career researchers who are committed to a practitioner academic career; combining research  with continued practice and professional  development.

Applicants must hold registration with one of the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme approved regulatory bodies, or have plans in place to hold the required registration by the proposed award start date.

Structure 

The PCAF scheme offers two distinct streams, which allow applicants to choose the level of support most appropriate to their individual requirements.

1. Funding to support the submission of a doctoral fellowship application and to undertake a programme of academic training at Masters level (“standard” PCAF).  Awards can be taken up at one of the following options:

  • full time for 12 months (5 days per week)
  • part-time over 24 months (2.5 days per week, 0.5 WTE)
  • part-time over 30 months (2 days per week, 0.4 WTE).

 2. Funding to support submission of a doctoral fellowship application and to undertake a small amount of academic training at Masters level (PCAF Bridge). Awards can be taken up at one of the following options:

  • 4 days per week for 6 months (0.8 WTE)
  • 2 days per week for 12 months (0.4 WTE).

Funding

Both funding streams provide:

  • salary costs (including the employer's contribution to National Insurance and pension) to support the time undertaking the fellowship
  • training and development costs
  • research development support costs (supervision and/or PPI costs)

Applicants can also request up to 20% clinical development / practice skills development time paid for through the award.

Full scheme details

Available from the PCAF Applicant Guidance Notes:

  • Full eligibility
  • Funding available 
  • How to apply

Applicants are required to read these guidance notes in full before starting an application or contacting  us with any queries.

Competitions

Funding competitions open annually in late January each year and notifications of competition dates are available in career development funding opportunities.

Useful resources for prospective applicants

Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (DCAF)

Formerly the Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship (CDRF).

The Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (DCAF) scheme funds registered healthcare professionals to undertake a PhD by research and, concurrently, to undertake further professional development and practice.

Structure

The DCAF is a three year award (up to six years part time), approximately 80% of which will be spent working academically over the course of the fellowship. The remaining 20% of fellowship hours will be spent devoted to practice and professional development. 

We require that applicants have  the support of an English health or social care provider and a university  and hold a contract of employment with one of these organisations for the hours and duration of the fellowship.

Funding

Our personal research training award offers funding to cover your salary costs, PhD tuition fees, the costs of an appropriate research project, and the costs of tailored clinical and academic training programmes.

Full scheme details

Available from the DCAF Applicant Guidance Notes:

  • Full eligibility
  • Funding available
  • How to apply.

Please read these guidance notes in full before starting an application or contacting us with any queries.

Competitions

Funding competitions open twice each year in April and September.  Competition details are published in career development funding opportunities.

Useful resources for prospective applicants

Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF)

The ACAF has been developed to replace the ICA Clinical Lectureship and Senior Clinical Lectureship schemes and represents increased opportunity for post-doctoral applicants to the ICA Programme.

The HEE/NIHR ICA Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF) supports post-doctoral researchers  to develop their academic career  whilst developing their health or care career.

Applicants may:

  • have recently completed or soon be awarded a PhD but have yet to establish themselves as an independent researcher
  • be starting to establish themselves as an independent researcher
  • already be established as an independent researcher but have yet to be recognised as an international leader in their field
  • be seeking to re-establish their research career following a significant career break
  • be seeking to re-establish their research career following time back in health or care practice

Applicants for an ACAF must hold registration with one of the ICA approved regulatory bodies or have plans in place to hold the required registration by the proposed award start date.  Full eligibility criteria are available through the Applicant Guidance Notes.

Structure

ACAFs can be between 2 and 5 years in duration if taken up full time or can be taken up part-time between 50% and 100% WTE.

Individuals are eligible to be awarded up to two ACAFs sequentially, not normally totalling more than 8 years WTE of funding.

Between 20% and 40% of the award time must be dedicated to development of the awardee’s clinical service or practice role, which will be funded through the Fellowship.

Funding

ACAFs offer funding to cover the Lead Applicant’s salary costs, the costs of an appropriate research project, and the costs of a tailored academic and professional development programme.

Full scheme details

Available from the  ICA ACAF Applicant Guidance Notes:

  • Full eligibility
  • Funding available
  • How to apply

Applicants are required to read these guidance notes in full before starting an application or contacting us with any queries.

Competitions

Funding competitions run twice each year in April and September.  Competition details are published through career development funding opportunities.

Useful resources for prospective applicants

Bridging Schemes

ICA Bridging schemes support health and care professionals (excluding doctors and dentists)  to build on their previous academic training and to develop proposals for a pre or post-doctoral award, and take the next step in their clinical academic or practitioner academic career.

Applicants to the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme schemes must hold registration with one of the ICA approved regulatory bodies or have plans in place to hold the required registration by the proposed award start date.

ICA Bridging awards  are managed by local HEE teams.  Further details of the scheme and contact details  for your local team are available from the HEE Clinical Academic Career web pages.

Mentorship Scheme

The ICA Mentorship Scheme offers individuals holding doctoral or post-doctoral ICA awards the opportunity for free one-to-one clinical academic career mentorship by an appropriate mentor.

The scheme is positively received, and recognised as providing a crucial layer of support to our aspirant clinical academic awardees. As a result, and following agreements between HEE, NIHR and Versus Arthritis (a merger of Arthritis Care and Arthritis Research UK) mentorship through the scheme is also available to nominated Versus Arthritis fellows.

The ICA Mentorship Scheme is currently administered by the University of the West of England, Bristol.

Information for prospective mentors and mentees

Mentoring is uniquely valuable to aspiring non-medical clinical academics and is afforded by the scheme through formalised and funded contact time with the most qualified individuals available. 

Mentorship goes beyond the guidance afforded by a supervisor and acts to support the awardee through the challenges encountered during the development of a clinical academic career.

The scheme’s mentors are recognised senior healthcare researchers and professional leaders. As such, they bring essential and unique sector knowledge, as well as an understanding of the leadership challenges that face clinical academic researchers from the non-medical healthcare professions.

The scheme administers:

  • A faculty of mentors comprising of senior healthcare researchers and professional leaders
  • One-to-one mentoring support for ICA Programme funded doctoral and postdoctoral awardees
  • Mentorship training
  • Training events and resources for mentees and mentors.

Accessing the scheme

All doctoral and post-doctoral ICA awardees are welcome to access mentorship through the scheme.

Prospective mentors or mentees requiring further information should contact our mentorship provision service at UWE by email on: icamentor@uwe.ac.uk.

Individuals seeking further information about the ICA Programme's strategy for mentorship provision, or their eligibility for access, should contact:

Latest funding opportunities for the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme

All Integrated Clinical Academic funding opportunities

Latest documents for the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme

ICA Programme Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowships Guidance Notes Round 1 2022

Guidance for recruitment and appointment of NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowships in dentistry.

HEE/NIHR ICA Programme Advanced Clinical Academic Fellowships Guidance Notes - Round 1 2022

The ACAF scheme supports post-doctoral researchers to develop their academic career whilst developing their health or care career.

Chairs' Report for Round 4 (2021) of HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship Scheme

A report from the chair of the PCAF selection committee for round 4 of the scheme.

NIHR Researchfish Update 2021

NIHR Researchfish Update 2021

HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme, Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship Scheme Applicant Guidance Notes - Round 7 2021

Guidance notes for the Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship Scheme, which funds healthcare professionals to undertake a PhD by research and further their professional development and clinical practice.

All Integrated Clinical Academic documents

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