Decorative banner of the RCGP Research Engagement Hub displaying different coloured squares

Research Engagement Hub

"There are so many different career pathways, if you try to emulate what somebody else has done, it's not going to work for you, because we're all individuals. It's really important that we learn from other people's experiences and then take our own paths. Academic primary care is a really friendly world to work in."

Professor Christian Mallen, Director & NIHR Professor of General Practice, Keele University

A collaboration between the RCGP and the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research (NIHR - SPCR), the Research Engagement Hub was created to celebrate and showcase academic general practice as an exciting and varied career path.

Using case studies, the Research Engagement Hub offers GPs and aspiring GPs the opportunity to learn about academic general practice through the experience of those who have embedded primary care research as an integral part of their careers.

The pathways into academic general practice are many. The Research Engagement Hub offers a starting point for those interested in research to find out how academic general practice might fit into their own career; and signposts to the growing body of information and support available to those wanting to get involved in high-quality primary care research.

A message from the Chair of the RCGP

Thoughts from the BMJ

“If you devote yourself to being the best practitioner you can be, you will improve the lives of thousands of patients in your working lifetime. If you teach students and young doctors, you will help to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients. If, through research, you change the way we all practise, you will help to improve the lives of millions.”

BMJ, How about a career in academic general practice?

Training years

Dipesh Gopal - GP

A GP in North London and researcher in cancer care at Queen Mary University, Dipesh Gopal first became interested in a career in academia after his intercalated degree as a medical student. He took the initiative to organise research, as well as improve writing skills. Despite some setbacks, Dipesh secured an NIHR In-Practice Fellowship in 2020. Dipesh is also a committee member of the Primary Academic Collaborative (PACT).

Read Dipesh's story

Mohammad Razai - GP

Mohammad Razai is an NIHR In-Practice Fellow in Primary Care at the Population Health Research Institute at St George's University of London. Here, Mohammad undertakes research in cardiovascular health, physical activity trials and epidemiology. Mohammad first became interested in a career in academia in his fifth year at medical school. After his foundation years, he undertook an academic clinical fellowship in primary care.

Read Mohammed's story

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Associates in Training

Sam Finnikin

After medical school, Sam Finnikin spent some time as a general duties medical officer with the Royal Army Medical Corps. He left the army in 2011 and started his GP training as a civilian in a standard (non-academic) training position. In Sam's second year as a trainee, an academic training post was advertised locally. Sam decided to apply and was successful. Sam now holds the position of Senior Clinical Tutor at the University of Birmingham and is associate partner at Sutton Coldfield Group Practice.

Read Sam's story

Harry Ahmed

Harry Ahmed is the Senior Clinical Lecturer and Director of Cardiff Academic Fellows Scheme. His first engagement with academia was as a GP trainee in a specialty academic training post. Harry completed his PhD in March 2019 and started a Post-doctorate Fellowship in June 2020.

Read Harry's story

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First5

Shoba Poduval

Shoba Poduval is a GP at the Mildmay Medical Practice in Islington, a small urban practice with around 5,000 patients. Academic research drew Shoba in towards the end of her GP training. An opportunity arose to apply for an academic training post in her last year as a trainee. However, this would have meant relocating, so Shoba decided to complete her standard GP training and look for opportunities thereafter in her First5 years.

Read Shoba's story

Luke Daines

Soon after qualifying as a GP, Luke Daines undertook a year-long Academic Clinical Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. During this year, Luke prepared for a PhD, which he completed in 2020. Luke holds the position of Clinical Academic Fellow under the Chief Scientist Office (Scotland), and is a salaried GP at Craiglockhart Medical Practice, Edinburgh.

Read Luke's story

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Career GP

Jane Wilcock

Jane Wilcock is a GP based in Salford. Jane became interested in academic general practice as a trainer of medical students and GP specialty trainees. She gained her research skills through supervising and marking undergraduate MRes projects. This lead to Jane starting her own research outputs, initially by writing posters for RCGP Conferences.

Read Jane's story

Christian Mallen

Christian Mallen is currently the NIHR Research Professor in General Practice and the interim Director of the Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences. He leads Keele University's Global Health Research and is also the Director of the Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Programme for Primary Care.

Read Christian's story

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Resources

General

WiseGP

WiseGP is a joint initiative between the Society of Academic Primary Care, and the Royal College of General Practitioners, championing clinical scholarship to support the Knowledge Work of person-centred General Practice. The work is lead by Joanne Reeve in partner with colleagues from across the academic and clinical communities.

The Society for Academic Primary Care

Championing expertise in Academic Primary Care, driving improvements in Primary Care provision. SAPC aim to provide a clear voice, and a strong presence, for Academic Primary Care in the complex and ever-changing Primary Care environment. They offer a point of reference and contact for those seeking academic solutions to the problems they face in the provision and study of Primary Care, and the advancement of Academic Primary Care.

Primary Care Academic Collaborative (PACT)

PACT is a community of healthcare professionals working in GP practices across the UK who are interested in improving primary care. They would like EVERYONE to get involved, no matter how little research experience or time you might be able to offer.

PACT has a core committee of ten GP trainees and newly qualified GPs from across the UK, who support PACT members with ideas for projects that can be delivered through the PACT network.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Primary Care

NIHR Primary Care fund research projects through funding programmes, and support training and career development for primary care researchers.

RCGP Scientific Foundation Board

The RCGP Scientific Foundation Board supports high quality primary care research studies, and awards grants for research relevant to general medical practice and primary care.

Any GP, primary healthcare professional, or university-based health services researcher may apply for a grant for scientific research, relevant to primary care, to be undertaken in the UK.

NHS Research Scotland - Primary Care Research

The NRS Primary Care Network is the national primary care research network operating in Scotland. The network was established in 2002 as a framework to coordinate national research activity in primary care. The overall aim of the network is to increase the amount of research relevant to patient care undertaken in a primary care setting.

Wales Centre for Primary and Emergency Care Research (PRIME)

PRIME Centre Wales is a research centre focusing on primary and emergency care, funded by Health and Care Research Wales in order to develop and coordinate research proposals and support researchers.

HSC Research and Development - Public Health Agency Northern Ireland

HSC R&D Division has a local focus and works in partnership with other public sector organisations, charities and businesses that are involved in health and social care research across Northern Ireland.

NIHR Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN)

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports patients, the public and health and care organisations across England to participate in high-quality research, thereby advancing knowledge and improving care. The CRN is comprised of 15 Local Clinical Research Networks and 30 Specialties who coordinate and support the delivery of high-quality research both by geography and therapy area. National leadership and coordination is provided through the CRN Coordinating Centre.

Medical Research Council

The Medical Research Council (MRC) improves the health of people in the UK – and around the world – by supporting excellent science, and training the very best scientists.

Research learning tools

NIHR Learn

NIHR Learn is an online Learning Management System (LMS) and the platform NIHR use to deliver their accredited learning programmes. They offer a range of courses to develop your knowledge of clinical research.

Their programmes have been developed by international leaders from the clinical research field and are available to anyone directly employed by the NHS, UK universities and other publicly funded organisations conducting and supporting clinical research.

RCGP Research Ready® - Accreditation and eLearning Module

Research Ready® is a quality assurance programme for all research-active UK GP practices. It is designed in line with the UK Research Governance Framework's legal, ethical, professional, and patient safety requirements. The programme serves to provide information, support and guidance to accredited practices in research; both to assist with meeting the requirements above, and with considering and conducting research.

Conducting research

NIHR Research Design Service

Got a research idea and not sure how to turn it into a funding application? Talk to the NIHR Research Design Service (RDS).

The RDS provides support to health and social care researchers across England on all aspects of developing and writing a funding application, including research design, research methods, identifying funding sources and involving patients and the public. Advice is confidential and free of charge.

Integrated Research Application System (IRAS)

The Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) is a single system for applying for the permissions and approvals for health and social care / community care research in the UK. IRAS is a collaborative initiative.

UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research

The policy framework that sets out principles of good practice in the management and conduct of health and social care research in the UK.

Research Ethics Service

The UK wide Research Ethics Service (RES) is committed to enabling and supporting ethical research in the NHS. It protects the rights, safety, dignity and wellbeing of research participants.

They have a duty to provide an efficient and robust ethics review service that maximises UK competitiveness for health research and maximises the return from investment in the UK, while protecting participants and researchers.

The UK Caldicott Guardian Council

A Caldicott Guardian is a senior person responsible for protecting the confidentiality of people’s health and care information and making sure it is used properly. The UK Caldicott Guardian Council provide practical support, resources and networking opportunities for Caldicott Guardians and those fulfilling the Caldicott function within their organisations.

RCGP Research and Surveillance Centre

The RCGP RSC is an internationally renowned source of information, analysis and interpretation of primary care data.

Established in 1957, the RSC is one of Europe's oldest general practice sentinel networks. It is an active research and surveillance unit that collects and monitors data from over 1,800 practices across England and Wales.

The RCGP collaborates with the University of Oxford and the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) in the running of the RSC.

Training and fellowships

Medical student progressing to foundation year doctors (FY1 & FY2)

Specialised Foundation Programme

The Specialised Foundation Programme (SFP) (previously known as Academic Foundation Programme) provides a fabulous opportunity for foundation doctors to develop research, teaching and leadership/management skills in addition to the competences outlined in the Foundation Programme Curriculum.

Foundation year doctors progressing to speciality training

Academic Clinical Fellowship

The NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) is a clinical specialty training post in medicine or dentistry that incorporates academic training.

This post has a standard duration of up to 4 years for GPs. Alternatively, it can be taken part-time and extended up to a maximum of 6 years for GPs, as long as the academic component remains at 25% whole time equivalent.

For fully qualified GPs

NIHR In-Practice Fellowship

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academy is launching the 15th round of the NIHR In-Practice Fellowships (NIHR IPF). The NIHR IPF offers academic training to fully qualified General Practitioners, General Dental Practitioners and Community Dentists, who are in NHS practice in England.

NIHR Fellowship Programme

NIHR fellowships that have been designed to support individuals at various points of their development in becoming leading researchers, from initial pre-doctoral training to senior post-doctoral research.

Funding

Wellcome Trust Discovery Research Schemes

The Wellcome Trust's three new discovery research schemes enable researchers to do bold and creative discovery research that has the potential to improve human life, health and wellbeing.

The new schemes are designed to give researchers more freedom, time and resource to pursue their ideas and build a better research culture.

RCGP Research Grants and Fellowships

The Scientific Foundation Board (SFB) was established in 1976 as a charitable funding body of the College. It awards grants for research projects whose findings will be of direct relevance to the care of patients in the general practice setting.

The College annually allocates over £100,000 of funding to research grants and fellowships. We work collaboratively to maximise the impact of these awards. Previous partners have included Marie Curie, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC).

Clare Wand Fund

The Claire Wand Fund is a charitable fund that makes grants to General Practitioners (GPs) to fund further education and for the provision of scholarships, including travelling scholarships.

The fund welcomes applications twice a year, at least three weeks prior to the April and October trustee meetings.

Postgraduate Funding

The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding Online! The Alternative Guide Online (AGO) is the most popular funding resource in the world for current and prospective postgraduate students studying at UK universities. If you are looking for funding for PhD, Masters, and PGCE study, the AGO can help.

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Research at the RCGP

At the RCGP we define research as systematic investigation that results in new conclusions. Whilst not a research organisation, the RCGP recognises the key role that research plays in advancing the highest quality of care for patients.

High quality research and objective evidence is vital to policy and clinical decision making and underpins the best possible care for patients. The RCGP Research Programme works in a number of ways to help ensure robust evidence remains at the heart of what we do.

Find out more about research at the RCGP.

About the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research (NIHR-SPCR)

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research is a partnership between nine leading academic centres for primary care research in England. Our main aims are to increase the evidence base for primary care practice through high quality research and strategic leadership, and to build capacity in primary care with a well established training programme.

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