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Extra career funding for health and care professionals

We have committed to spending an additional £30 million per year to help more health and care professionals (HCPs) become skilled researchers and research leaders. This includes nurses, midwives, allied health professionals (AHPs), healthcare scientists and pharmacists.

The graphic above outlines the new funding schemes for HCPs, organised by career stage, and also the new developments at NIHR that are happening to support the new schemes. The career stages are undergraduate/ pre-registration, early to mid-career and advanced career. 

Under undergraduate/pre-registration, NIHR will expand the INSIGHT programme. Under early to mid-career, the NIHR will increase the number of internships, provide bursaries for master's level courses in clinical research delivery leadership, increase the number of DSE awards and In-Practice Fellowships, and increase the support provided by Application Development Awards. Under advanced career, the NIHR will introduce the Senior Clinical and Practitioner Research Award and a Clinical Research Leaders programme for AHPs. Under changes at the NIHR to support these new opportunities, the NIHR will recruit an Assistant Director for AHPs.

How the NIHR will support HCPs at every career stage


INSIGHT Programme

We have expanded the new NIHR INSIGHT Programme, which encourages more students and recent graduates into research through engagement programmes and Research Masters Studentships.

These new regional programmes will be led by HEIs – the successful organisations will be announced in 2024, followed by details about how the programme will run in each region.

Read more about INSIGHT


Internships Programme

The number of internships available each year is increasing from 100 to 300. We will ensure consistency across regions and the internships will be relevant to all HCPs who already have research as part of their work or aspire to. More information will be available in 2024.

Read more about current internships

HCP bursaries for master’s level courses in clinical research delivery leadership

Bursaries are available for HCPs to undertake the Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s degree qualifications that are accredited to the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework. Further information about the bursaries is available on the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework pages.   

Read more about the Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework

NIHR Development and Skills Enhancement Award

We’re expanding this award to help post-doctoral HCPs develop the skills or training they need to apply for their next grant or make a fellowship application. Applications opened in November 2023, and funding can be taken for up to 2 years to support broader development of researchers working in the areas of health data science, clinical trials, entrepreneurship and working with industry.

Read more about the Development and Skills Enhancement Award

In-Practice Fellows

The NIHR’s In-Practice Fellowship (IPF) is a pre-doctoral scheme that provides academic training. We will open it to wider clinical professions working in primary care, including nurses and pharmacists, from February 2024.

Read more about the In-Practice Fellowship

NIHR Application Development Awards 

Application Development Awards (ADAs) are aimed at HCPs who want to become research leaders. They may currently be working in supportive teams with experienced clinical or practitioner academics, or aiming to through their ADA. After completing their ADA, candidates will be expected to apply for research funding with the NIHR.

Each ADA is for up to £150,000 over a maximum of 12 months. Applications are now open.

Read more about the Application Development Award

Advanced career

Senior Clinical and Practitioner Research Award

This is a new programme to provide up to 5 years of funding for post-doctoral clinicians and practitioners to engage in research activities. The award offers applicants flexibility to propose a broad range of research activities to support their career development. 

SCPRA round 1 has now closed to applicants and round 2 opens in autumn 2024.

Read about round 1 of the NIHR Senior Clinical and Practitioner Research Award

Clinical Research Leader Programme for AHPs

Launching in autumn 2024, this 3-year programme aims to give clinical researchers and advanced/consultant practitioners the confidence they need to influence research activity, drive change and build opportunity at every level.

The programme blends several approaches to develop leadership skills, including opportunities to lead individual improvement and leadership projects, and gain experience in building local and regional networks. It will be run on an annual basis, with one intake per year. More information will be available in 2024.

Changes at NIHR to support the new funding schemes

To support these new funding opportunities, we will:

  • appoint an Assistant Director for AHPs

Why this funding is important

Supporting more HCPs to become researchers can benefit them personally, and also patients and healthcare systems:

  • research-active roles can increase job satisfaction, enhancing staff retention within the NHS
  • a multi-professional approach to research can help address complex healthcare challenges
  • research-active health and care settings have better outcomes and patients receive better care

What will the funding achieve?

At every stage of a HCP’s career, this funding will strengthen and expand existing opportunities with the NIHR Academy and CRN Coordinating Centre (CRNCC), while supporting new initiatives to:

  • accelerate the understanding of research career options at the start of careers
  • increase local signposting, access to infrastructure, networking and peer support
  • improve career development for research delivery staff
  • boost opportunities to access multi-professional research communities
  • address contractual barriers for transitioning between the NHS and Higher Education Institutions (HEI)
  • develop a post-doctoral career pathway
  • improve the diversity of clinical academic leaders and the visibility of role models

“I’m really pleased that we’re able to offer more opportunities to health and care professionals, and ultimately deliver better care for our patients and the public.” 

- Professor Ruth Endacott, NIHR Director of Nursing and Midwifery

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If you’re a health and care professional and want to know more about other career support we can offer you, check out NIHR support by profession.