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NIHR joins forces with top UK colleges for new e-learning programme

Published: 07 June 2023

The NIHR has invested almost £1 million to create a new programme of e-learning content for health and care professionals with an interest in research.

For the first time, funding has been allocated to 7 Royal Colleges and the College of Optometrists. This has enabled each to design online content tailored to the training needs of their aspiring researchers.

The online modules are free to use. They are ideal for health professionals interested in a research career, even if they have little or no research experience so far.

This is the first time that NIHR and the colleges have collaborated on a shared project of this kind. The aim is to improve the clinical research awareness, knowledge and skills of health professionals.

Each college has used the funding award to work with its own partners to deliver a selection of targeted modules. 

The modules have been designed for each college’s target population. Each module is pitched at an introductory level for those with limited experience of research. For example, the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP) module focuses on investigational medicines. At the same time, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine offers a module on leadership in emergency care research.

A flexible approach

For participants, the online approach will bring a range of benefits, including:

  • free-to-use modules designed to fit their exact learning and training needs
  • anytime online, tablet or mobile access. This means learning can fit around day-to-day workloads and other responsibilities
  • open access, with no application or membership of a college needed
  • no stipulated end date, so users can complete the modules at their own pace

Learners can also use their new skills and knowledge to support their own personal continued professional development objectives.

A first step into research

Gareth O’Brien, Senior Programme Manager at the NIHR Academy, said: “NIHR is aware that there is a clear need to address the research learning needs of those who currently report gaps in their research skills.

"By working with the colleges, this new e-learning programme will meet this need, with a flexible selection of modules developed to enable people to feel more confident to engage with research and research opportunities."

The Academic Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Ramesh Arasaradnam, said: The RCP believes every clinician working in the NHS should be supported to become research-active, so we are delighted that this free e-learning programme developed with all our partners for the NIHR is now live. 

“It’s an excellent new initiative that aims to support any health professional that has an interest in clinical research. High-quality research in the NHS is everyone’s responsibility and we will continue to call for it to be a core part of clinical care.”

The 8 partnering colleges are:

  • Royal College of Physicians
  • College of Optometrists (working in partnership with Ulster University)
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • Royal College of Nursing (working in partnership with King’s College London)
  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (working in partnership with the University of Birmingham)
  • Royal College of Emergency Medicine (working in partnership with the College of Paramedics)
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Royal College of Surgeons of England

The modules will be launched in phases by each college over the next 12 months. They will be available through the NIHR Learn platform. 

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