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Clinical academic careers

The BMA Medical Academic Staff Committee (MASC) highlight the particular skills and experiences that medical academics bring to healthcare in the UK, combined with case studies of medical academics practising such roles.


The essential role

Clinical academics are central to the development and delivery of the curricula needed to impart the knowledge and skills required by doctors, as well as instilling a high standard of ethics in medical students and junior doctors.

The role of the clinical academic is to play the role of educator and mentor, setting an example to future generations of doctors.


Responding to and shaping a changing world

The nature of illness in most industrialised nations has resulted in corresponding changes to health care, whilst the rate of scientific discovery and technological innovation over the last few decades has been unprecedented.

Clinical academics translate innovation into everyday practice  

Clinical academics translate innovation into everyday practice, acting as a bridge between clinical and academic sectors. The clinical academic role has increasingly encompassed clinical leadership.

Social trends, policy initiatives and organisational change, as well as the desire amongst doctors to achieve an improvement in their work-life balance, have also changed the shape of academic medical work today.


Relationship with patients and the public

Collaborative arrangements between clinical academics, academic research projects, patients and the public go beyond the normal doctor-patient relationship. The patient must be at the heart of research.

The patient must be at the heart of research  

Clinical academics should lead in ensuring the probity of, and good practice in, the handling of patient data and in the selection of participants for research programmes and clinical trials.


Educating and training

Clinical academics focus on acquiring the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to ensure the effective teaching and training of medical students and doctors.

Continuing professional development and the mentoring of less experienced colleagues are essential parts of their role.


The role of the clinical academic in research

Clinical academics are responsible for searching out evidence, evaluating it for scientific validity and assessing its practical application in the development of new treatments and the evolution of medicine.

Without clinical academics' 'spirit of enquiry', healthcare delivery would stagnate  

Without clinical academics' 'spirit of enquiry', healthcare delivery would stagnate. These doctors disseminate innovation in the delivery of care and long term efficiencies for healthcare systems.


The role of clinical academic in leadership and management

Leadership is central to many of the roles undertaken by clinical academics in education and training, research and innovation, mentorship management and leadership of health services generally.

Clinical academics have to manage resources in two sectors: clinical and academic. In research, education and health care delivery, teamwork is essential. Nonetheless, the doctor remains the mentor, co-ordinator and leader of the teams efforts on behalf of the patient.


Safeguarding and promoting the role of clinical academics

For clinical academics, keeping up-to-date in their area of expertise requires that they engage in dialogue with peers and professional and scientific societies for the benefit of patient care, and develop curricula and programmes that enable colleagues to acquire this new knowledge.

They must keep abreast of cutting edge research and innovation in their field, and spearhead efforts to translate research findings into practical medical treatments.



The role of the medical academic (PDF)