Post-doctoral bridging programme

A group of doctors and healthcare professionals gather around a table for a discussion

Applications are currently closed. 

The Post-Doctoral Bridging Programme is a new programme designed to bridge the gap between doctoral level study and applying for a Clinical Lectureship, enabling individuals with a doctorate to progress in their clinical academic career.

It is expected that post-doctoral fellows on this programme will complete a comprehensive self-assessment using the Vitae Researcher Development Framework.

The programme is designed to prepare Fellows to meet the criteria against which Health Education England (HEE)/National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Lectureship applications are measured, or to apply for equivalent funding.

The programme offers each Fellow an individual funding grant up to the value of £14,000 to support them through the programme – this can be used for salary support, training, conferences, external visits, publication costs, etc. 

To apply for the Post-Doctoral Bridging Programme applicants must be:

    • Registered with the relevant professional body as per ICA programme requirements – details of eligible professions can be found here (these align to the eligible professionals for the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme for Non-medical Healthcare Professions)
    • Working within the West Midlands region
    • Employed by a provider of health and/or care services that is providing at least 50% of its services free at the point of delivery (the applicant must also be spending at least 50% of their current role delivering health and/or care services which are free at the point of delivery)
    • Hold a relevant PhD (or Professional Doctorate), or have submitted their thesis for examination at the time of application (applicants must have been awarded their PhD by the time they start the programme)

The programme consists of 48 days study time over a twelve month period, commencing in September/October each year.  

There will be a minimum of five scheduled face-to-face contact days which will include:

    • Preparing grant application
    • Designing programme of research
    • Building the team and establishing relationships and collaborations
    • Analysing development needs and designing an individualised training programme
    • Establishing consistent production of completed outputs
    • Succession planning and mentorship skills
    • Management and leadership skills
    • Identification of alternative funding sources
    • Disseminating, communicating and engaging with different audiences to increase impact

The remaining independent study time (approx. 43 flexible days) will cover:

  • Completing programme outcomes with the support of the mentorship team
  • Attending monthly meetings with programme team (face to face or virtual)
  • Undertaking further training, external visits, as agreed

Expected programme outcomes are to:

    • Complete a number of high quality high impact publications (from doctorate if not yet completed) and/or preliminary to proposed programme of work
    • Design a programme of research
    • Build a post-doctoral clinical and academic research support team
    • Complete an application for HEE/NIHR ICA CL programme or equivalent and / or grant application
    • Disseminate research at professional conferences and use other strategies (social media, policy briefing, public engagement) to maximise impact
    • Evidence of engagement with national and international network and potential and actual collaborators
    • Gain experience with recognised national and international experts in their field
    • Identify alternative sources of funding support
    • Establish mentorship relationship for self and provided mentorship to others (if appropriate)
    • Establish PPI network
Do I need my manager’s support?

Applications will only be accepted with a written and signed statement of support from your line manager, included as part of the application form. Before you start the programme we will also provide you with a partnership agreement, which will be signed by yourself, your line manager, your supervisor and the Clinical Academic Programme Team. This agreement outlines the minimum expected of the applicant, their line manager, the supervisor, and the programme team.

What time commitment is needed?

You will need to commit to a minimum of 48 days study time over a twelve month period. A number of programme days (a minimum of five) will be fixed dates which cannot be changed. The remaining study days can be flexible and negotiated with your mentorship team and employer.

Do I gain a qualification from this?

The programme develops your skills and knowledge in advance of a clinical lectureship (or equivalent) application. There isn’t an official qualification awarded at the end of the programme, however it is a good addition to your CV.

What are the benefits for my employer?

The programme supports the national agenda to increase the capability of non-medical clinicians to contribute to the improvement of patient outcomes and innovations in healthcare. Individuals undertaking the programme will develop the skills and knowledge required to develop their post-doctoral clinical academic career pathway.

For more information, please see the ‘NIHR building a research career handbook: a guide for aspiring clinical academics (excluding doctors and dentists) and their managers’

How does the individual funding grant work?

The programme offers each Fellow an individual funding grant up to the value of £14,000 to support them through the programme – this can be used for salary support, training, conferences, external visits, publication costs, etc.

What can I expect from my mentorship team?

The programme team will assist each Fellow to build a clinical and academic mentorship team (up to three mentors) who will support them for the duration of the fellowship. This relationship may continue after the programme.

A matching scheme approach will be taken to ensure each fellow is matched with the optimal mentors and will take account areas of interest as well as practical considerations. Mentors will be sought from across both the regional universities and trusts and if required outside of region.

Mentors will join the programme for both the induction period and final presentation day with a minimum time commitment agreed during the programme.

We offer a bursary of for each mentor which will be paid directly to their department/institution (there is £1,000 for up to three mentors).

The mentorship team will:

    • Agree to meet the fellow at least once per month for one hour during the programme (this can be in person or virtually)
    • Support the fellow to evaluate their development and academic learning needs
    • Support the fellow to develop their network, including any travel/placement experience
    • Support the fellow to design their programme of research
    • Provide feedback to the fellow on any written work in a timely and constructive manner
    • Support the fellow to submit his or her application for HEE/NIHR ICA Clinical Lectureship or equivalent
    • Support the fellow with other programme outputs for example: applying for grants, alternative sources of funding and publications
    • Respond to fellow enquiries via email in a timely fashion, normally within 3-5 working days
    • To complete the progress review form at least monthly with the fellow and ensure the fellow emails this to the programme team
    • At the end of the programme, the mentors will notify the programme team on the fellow’s progress and whether the mentor relationship will continue
Is the programme assessed?

The programme is not formally assessed but you will be provided with feedback from your mentor(s) and programme team throughout and at the summative presentation at the end of the programme.

What happens after the programme?

The programme will give you the skills and knowledge required to apply successfully for the next stage of the clinical academic pathway (e.g. clinical lectureship). Support and guidance on options for further academic study or clinical academic careers will be provided.

After completing the programme, you will also become a member of our clinical academic programme alumni, providing you with further opportunities and support.

Applications are currently closed and are expected to reopen for the 2024-25 cohort early in 2024. The West Midlands Post Doctoral Bridging 2023-24 Application Form (click to download and save) is included here for reference only. 

Read more about the HEE/NIHR training pathway

For further information about the bridging programme, please contact the BHP clinical academic programmes team:

Tel: 0121 371 8162