What is an ACF in paediatrics?
An Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) is part of the clinical-academic training programme that gives a trainee dedicated research time in addition to a normal clinical training programme. Over three years (usually ST1-ST3, also known as ACF1-ACF3) you are given 25% (9 months) for research without clinical commitments. The NIHR gives full details about ACFs in general:
NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowships Background Information. Medical NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowships are specialty training posts that incorporate academic training.
What does it involve?
An ACF involves completing the normal level 1 training, whilst also taking 9 months for research. At the end of the 3 year ACF, you go back into the normal training programme as a ST4. An example ACF programme may be:
- ACF1: 12 months general paedatrics & neonates
- ACF2: 3 months general paediatrics + 9 months academic (research)
- ACF3: 6 months tertiary neonates + 6 months speciality paediatrics
- ST4-8: as per standard training programme
However, this is not prescriptive and you can choose to use your 9months allocated to research in a different pattern. This will need planning and discussion with your Training Programme Director, your Educational Supervisor and your Academic Supervisor.
What research can I do during an ACF in paediatrics?
Almost anything! There are no restrictions on what kind of research you do (e.g. clinical, basic science, epidemiological, bioinformatics). There is world-class research in every field in the East of England. Look on the University of Cambridge and University of East Anglia websites for details of research groups. All ACF trainees are allocated an academic supervisor who can help you to plan your research time.
Positives of an ACF in East of England:
- Flexible, dedicated time for research
- A step on the clinical-academic training pathway
- World-class research in Cambridge and Norwich
- £1000 study/conference budget (in addition to clinical study budget)
Challenges of doing an ACF:
- Less time to complete clinical competencies and workplace-based assessments
- Competitive application process
- Increased workload to achieve both clinical and academic outputs
Jake Mann , Cambridge.
Asma Soltani (RCPCH Newlife Clinical Research Fellow, Cambridge