Pre-doctoral bridging programme

Co-workers in a meeting

Applications are currently closed. 

The Pre-Doctoral Bridging Programme is designed to bridge the gap for individuals with Masters-level or equivalent qualification who aspire to undertake doctoral level study and progress along the clinical academic career pathway. It is designed to prepare fellows to meet the criteria against which Health Education England (HEE)/National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) doctoral applications are measured.

The programme offers:

    • A comprehensive training needs analysis using the Vitae Framework to identify immediate and long term development needs
    • A range of taught sessions, masterclasses and workshops enabling participants to consolidate and develop new skills in research, leadership, negotiation, influencing, presentation and maximising impact
    • Supervision from a clinical academic and support to build a supervisory team and network
    • Exposure to research leaders and research teams
    • Participation in an action learning set
    • A clinical academic portfolio to support learning during and after the programme
    • Access to the University of Birmingham (UoB) education facilities
    • Independent study time to complete programme work

There are no programme fees and we provide a single payment grant to your employer to cover your time on the programme.

The internship links to the Health Education England (HEE) Research and Innovation Strategy and Clinical Academic Careers Framework. The framework aims to provide a clear pathway from the start of clinicians’ careers with internships, through to those wishing to undertake senior clinical lectureships.

To apply for the Pre-Doctoral Bridging Programme, applicants should be able to provide evidence of Masters level study (e.g. Masters in Research), and must also be working in the West Midlands region. 

The programme consists of 48 days study time over a twelve month period, commencing in September/October each year.  A minimum of 10 programme days will be fixed dates which cannot be changed. The remaining study days can be flexible and negotiated with your academic supervisor and employer.

Participants will attend interactive taught sessions, masterclasses and workshops on:

    • Developing a research question and proposal
    • Critical appraisal and literature review
    • Applying research methodology to a health care setting
    • Patient and public involvement and engagement in research
    • Ethics and research governance
    • Research funding and finance
    • Development needs analysis using the Vitae Framework
    • Leadership self-assessment and leadership skills
    • Negotiation and influencing

There will be independent study time to complete programme outcomes with the support of your supervisor and supervisory team. 

Expected programme outcomes are as follows:

    • A refined and feasible research question as part of a research proposal developed with a targeted funding stream in mind, in which potential methods are outlined
    • A drafted literature review as first author supporting the research question formatted for submission to a nominated journal
    • Engagement with the wider research network (e.g. second author on a research paper)
    • Portfolio containing evidence of learning and experiences of the fellow while on the programme to include completed development needs analysis and plans for future development
    • List of research supervisory team and potential collaborators
    • The dissemination of programme work to their teams
    • Evidence of discussion of project with Research Design Service (RDS)

The programme also provides preparation to apply for a clinical doctoral research fellowship (or other equivalent training programme) or research grant.

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 minimum of 10 days will be fixed dates which cannot be changed. The remaining study days can be flexible and negotiated with your academic supervisor and employer.

Do I gain a qualification from this?

The programme develops your skills and knowledge in advance of a PhD 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 start to develop the skills and knowledge required to undertake their own clinical research and progress along the clinical academic career pathway.

How does the funding for my course costs and single payment grant work?

There are no fees payable by participants. When you commence your programme, we will reimburse your employing organisation with the single payment grant of £7,500.

What can I expect from my supervisor?

Each participant will be allocated a named academic supervisor or supervisors for the duration of the programme. Supervisors will be sought from across both the regional universities and trusts and if required outside of region.

A matching scheme approach will be taken to ensure each fellow is matched with the optimal supervisor and will take account of both areas of interest as well as practical considerations.

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

Is the programme assessed?

The programme is not formally assessed but you will be provided with feedback from your supervisor(s) and Clinical Academic 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. Masters or PhD). 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 Pre-Doctoral Programme 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