Workforce, training and education
East of England

Academic Obstetrics & Gynaecology in the East of England


Significant numbers of O&G trainees nationally undertake research during their training.

The opportunity to perform independent research can significantly enhance personal development, create valuable transferable skills, and open new career opportunities.

We want to encourage trainees in doing research, and to help them find it interesting, enjoyable, and useful.


Trainees can undertake academic research via two separate routes:

By going ‘out of programme’ for research (OOPR)

By undertaking integrated clinical and academic training


Both of these routes are available in the East of England.

Current and past trainees have successfully completed these programmes, and have been supported by the Deanery to achieve their research aims.

For further information about academic training in the East of England please contact the Associate Training Programme Director (ATPD) for Academic Training - Dr Catherine Aiken


Out of Programme Research (OOPR)

Out of programme research (OOPR)

This route allows trainees to suspend their training temporarily and focus on a period of research. Research does not need to be undertaken within the region. Out of programme research experiences are not of fixed length, although often these span three years in order to complete a research degree. Trainees are responsible for finding projects, which then need to be discussed with the assistant training programme director responsible for academic matters (Dr Catherine Aiken, Addenbrooke’s Hospital & University of Cambridge).
Projects likely to be granted approval
In order to be assessed as suitable, your planned project should:
  • Be funded for the duration of the project
  • Have ethical approval (or a reasonable expectation of approval being granted within a suitable timescale)
  • Include measurable personal achievement outcomes (for example a PhD, MD, MPhil or specified primary research papers)
  • Have a robust supervisory plan from an established academic supervisor
  • Not involve an excessive clinical commitment
Finding a project
Trainees should feel free to approach research supervisors who are experts producing high quality research in their field of interest, regardless of location. Note that principal investigators do not normally have funding immediately available for a substantial research project, but may be willing to develop an application for funding. Principal investigators may also intermittently advertise for research fellows to undertake a particular project. Interested trainees should keep a close eye on regional mailing lists, university websites, and college advertisements for these. In allocating such funding, it is often helpful if interest in the specialty area has previously been expressed to principal investigators.
For any trainee who is considering this route, it is recommended to begin the process of gaining approval around 6 months prior to the anticipated start date. This will allow for the request to be processed and a notice period (usually 3 months) to be given for your current role.
Training requirements during and after out of programme research
During OOPR, trainees are encouraged to have a yearly catch-up with the academic assistant training programme director. This can be done by attending the regional research meeting, organising a one-to one session, or by submitting a written interim progress report. Extending your OOPR beyond the initial agreed period is not normally possible, and hence it is vital to ensure that all projects are feasible, on track, and achievable within the specified time period.
Integrated clinical and academic training (ACF vs ACL)

Integrated clinical and academic training

At present, integrated clinical and academic training in obstetrics and gynaecology is provided in the region at 2 levels. These posts are limited, as they depend on funding and allocation. They are not available every year and are advertised on a national basis.
There are two levels of post available:
  • ACF: these posts are available mainly at ST1-3 level, last for three years, and include nine months of dedicated research time
  • ACL: these posts are available mainly at post-membership level, last for four years, and include two years of dedicated research time
More information about ACF/ACL programmes nationally is available here:
These programmes are competitive and posts are limited. Selection criteria are based on evidence of previous academic achievement and evidence of interest in research. Academic trainees are allocated an academic training number that reverts to a normal NTN on completion of the ACF or ACL.
The RCOG provides a curriculum that should be followed by all ACF/ACLs, and these will be regularly assessed and supported by a dedicated academic supervisor at the hosting unit (Cambridge or Norwich).
Academic opportunities for trainees not in a dedicated research post

Academic opportunities for trainees not in a dedicated research post

Regional Prize meeting
The region has an annual training day dedicated to research and academic training. Trainees are invited to submit projects for presentation including audits and quality improvement projects. Presentations given on the day are eligible for the regional research prize. The day also includes presentations from current academic trainees on elements of basic research methods and understanding academic studies.
Audits and Quality Improvement projects
Well-performed clinical audit and quality improvement exercises often produce suitable data to submit to conferences and for publication. Doing clinical audit to a high standard is often an excellent way to gain some preliminary research experience and skills. Such presentations and publications can be a useful way to make your CV attractive to principal investigators who may be looking for PhD students.
Research skills and methods training
Courses in research methods, particularly statistical methods and data handling are widely available, and often good value compared to clinical courses.
Local recruitment for clinical studies
Many large clinical trials and studies recruit via multiple obstetric units across the UK. It is worth finding out which studies your unit is involved in as a recruiting site. The local PI for any study will be able to discuss with you whether it may be possible to be involved in local recruitment.
Attending conferences and research meetings
Study leave for attendance at conferences and research meetings can be applied for during training. Funding to attend will usually only be granted by the deanery for presenting authors. Both the RCOG and specialist obstetrics and gynaecology societies run suitable conferences within the UK. Examples of such meetings include:
  • The RCOG academic meeting
  • The RCOG trainee conference
  • The RCOG world congress (held every other year in the UK)
Specialist society meetings include those run by the British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society, British Gynaecological Cancer Society, the British Society of Urogynaecology, and many others. These may also be suitable for senior trainees undertaking ATSMs.
Wednesday, 12 December, 2018
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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018