Academic medicine might be defined as the capacity of the healthcare system to think, study, research, discover, evaluate, teach, learn and improve. The support and nurturing of academic radiologists in training must be a key element in attaining the goal of the NHS to provide the best possible medical services to the UK population.
Clinical governance and increased public scrutiny of the health profession have increased pressure to improve and maintain healthcare, emphasising the need for clinical and basic research. We believe that the training of radiologists with an interest in research is critical to the future of biomedicine in general and more specifically Radiology. Academic radiologists who are also clinician-scientists have a critical, unique role to play in biomedical advances by imaging and studying patients and their diseases; they help in taking observations from the bedside into the laboratory, make basic discoveries in the imaging sciences and translate these discoveries into new methods for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease that are based in or aided by newer imaging techniques. In the absence of clinician-scientists, the bridge between bench and bedside will weaken, perhaps even collapse.
We are mindful that tomorrow's practice of Radiology depends on today's medical research. The mission of our academic departments in Cambridge and Norwich is to provide excellence in research, teaching, and patient care, as well as clinical epidemiology and health services research as they apply to the radiological sciences. As such, we firmly hold that a positive experience for our Radiology trainees in research (basic, disease-, patient-, population-, and prevention-orientated) substantially influences ultimate career choice and predicts success in academic Radiology. For selected academically-inclined trainees we aim to drive and fuel their zest for research and support their desire to enter a career that emphasizes long-term research. We aim to provide a good educational junior academic experience in the sense that it would significantly advance one's professional capabilities and increase one's technical abilities.
A broad definition of clinical research embraces 'translational research', and also clinical trials, epidemiology, behavioural studies, outcome analysis, and health policy research. We aim to expose trainees to research focusing on the development and evaluation of new anatomical, functional, and molecular imaging techniques for patient diagnosis and treatment and the investigation of disease mechanisms. Many experienced faculty members throughout the Region have both technique and body system expertise, and many are nationally and internationally recognised.
Increasingly, the best research is produced by teams rather than by exceptional individuals working largely on their own. Collaboration in clinical research is emphasised during exposure to radiological training, with teams of radiologists and scientists representing clinical, population, and basic science disciplines on site or nearby within the Region, and where clinician-scientists serve as excellent leaders of such multidisciplinary research teams. Both the University and NHS Departments of Radiology on the Addenbrooke's Hospital site in Cambridge, as well as the Radiology Academy at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have many operational aspects that are closely integrated, including clinical services, teaching, and research. Our trainees benefit from the extensive modern imaging resources available, the excellent links with clinical specialty groups, and a variety of regular clinico-radiological conferences.
The Integrated Academic Training Pathway scheme for training of Academic Radiology Fellows (ACFs) and Lecturers (ACLs) in Cambridge was launched by the Research Capacity Development Programme of the National Institute of Health Research (NCCRCD of the Department of Health). The ACF posts available are based at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge during Years 1-3 of training in Radiology. This Programme for training of academic radiologists was the earliest to be implemented, and is now the largest in the UK. We mentor, teach, and tutor highly selected trainees in the principles and practice of Radiology research to prepare them for a career in academic Radiology. This phase of Radiology training occurs in parallel with clinical training, and allows ACFs to make a significant start to their specialist clinical training with a broad range of academic opportunities that enable: a) the preparation of an application for a research Training Fellowship or a programme for training as an educationalist and b) research leading to a higher degree. During this time candidates prepare for a PhD or MD in a Radiology-based subject.
The programme engages trainees in an environment that values Radiology-based clinical or non-clinical research and/or education and provides the individual with every opportunity and imaginative ways to explore his/her embryonic research and/or education interests. Following the completion of the ACF period, a trainee will be in a position to either embark on a successfully awarded research Training Fellowship, or re-enter clinical Radiology training, or apply for Clinical Lecturer posts to complete the award of a NTN(A). We also assist each ACL in making the transition to independent postdoctoral investigators via successful application for postdoctoral research training fellowships and awards, and ultimately to a long-term expectation of obtaining Senior Lectureships in Radiology, where academic careers combine research and clinical practice, and with the capability to establish independent research groups supported by long term research funding. Further particulars of these posts can be obtained from Dr. T. F. Massoud, Head of Academic Training, Cambridge.
For many trainees in Radiology who aspire to future employment in teaching and University hospitals, a period of dedicated full time research training leading to a higher degree is becoming increasingly attractive, and may even be considered highly desirable. It is anticipated that the Deanery and the Royal College of Radiologists would support appropriate requests for out of programme periods for research (OOPR), and out of programme periods for other activities (OOPE); in combination these would help decide the extent to which this research counts towards a CCT.
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