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1,000 healthcare professionals take their first step in research as part of innovative NIHR scheme

Celebrating 1000 Associate Principal Investigators

Published: 29 April 2022

The NIHR is delighted to announce over 1,000 health and care professionals have now got involved with research for the first time, as part of the Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme.

This marks a major milestone for the innovative scheme, which began as an opportunity for surgical trainees in the West Midlands in 2018 and has since developed into a nationwide flagship NIHR training scheme, providing doctors, nurses and other health professionals with the skills to become the next generation of PIs.

Training the Principal Investigators of the future

Research is only possible thanks to the efforts of dedicated health and care professionals, and the Associate PI Scheme provides an opportunity for doctors, nurses and other health professionals to take their first step in research.

After the success of the initial pilot, the scheme expanded to help make vital Urgent Public Health COVID-19 studies possible nationwide, and today covers most specialty areas with endorsement from a wide range of Royal Colleges.

This means any healthcare professional not already working in research can get involved as part of their day-to-day role, gaining practical experience, while providing invaluable support delivering life-changing studies.

Dr William Van’t Hoff, CEO of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, said: “It's vital that we do everything we can to normalise research as part of routine health and care, so it's fantastic to see the Associate PI Scheme go from strength to strength. From an inspired idea in the surgery specialty, the scheme has now expanded to build capacity for research across many specialties, bringing over a thousand health and care professionals across the UK into research for the first time.

“The success of the scheme in helping to deliver lifesaving COVID-19 studies during the pandemic really shows the value for health workers and patients alike, and with every professional who continues to register for the scheme we build a stronger base for the future of research."

Opening research career doors for health and care professionals

Successful trainees receive formal recognition of engagement in NIHR Portfolio research studies through the certification of Associate PI status, endorsed by the NIHR and Royal Colleges.

The scheme has proved popular with both Associate PIs and study teams, with 98% of alumni saying they have stayed/are planning to stay engaged with delivering research since completing the Associate PI Scheme.

Amanda Hill, Hepatology Nurse Specialist and Associate PI Alumni, said: “Participating in the Associate PI Scheme has opened doors for me to gain a greater understanding of research within the NHS. I gained new skills that I can use in my current role, and the development opportunities have also helped contribute towards my revalidation. The application process is easy and I gained lots of transferable skills.”

Learn more

To find out more about the Associate PI scheme, the benefits, and how to apply, visit the Associate PI Scheme webpage.

If you have any questions, you can email the Associate PI Scheme Central Team.

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