Academic Primary Care
Nature of the work
Primary care academics are people from a range
of disciplines who are interested in teaching and research issues
relevant to primary care and its interfaces with other areas. The
majority of senior teachers and researchers within the departments
of primary care in the UK are from a medical background, but at
least 50 per cent of the workforce is non-medical. Most projects
rely on the knowledge base and input of, amongst others:
statisticians, epidemiologists and sociologists within the
departments, as well as clinicians.
Academic primary care therefore has a broad
focus - with researchers exploring a range of issues from multiple
perspectives. Much of the undergraduate syllabus now has a
significant input from academic primary care in terms of teaching
materials and methods.
One of the positive aspects of working in
academic primary care is the variety of the job, so that no two
weeks are alike. Your core commitments will include teaching,
research and admin-related tasks, time for developing new ideas
with colleagues and for writing. Most academics will be involved in
both research and teaching activities at the start of their
careers, but will tend to focus more on one area as they become
established. Most academics also continue to practise as general
practitioners throughout their academic career.
There are no ‘fixed hours’ in the way that a
GP might be contracted to see patients during set hours of each
day. You are likely to be employed on a clinical academic
contract that sets out your commitments on a weekly basis.
Academic primary care is an expanding
speciality with support from a range of new academic training
schemes (e.g. Walport posts) and national fellowships. Academic
primary care is also thriving in terms of having increasing
responsibility for undergraduate teaching. The creation of the
National School for Primary Care Research in 2006 led to extra
research funds for 5 of the top rated primary care departments
(Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge) and we hope
this will translate into even higher quality research outputs
during the next few years.
Academic primary care is a multidisciplinary
profession and therefore people within it possess a range of
personal and professional skills that commonly overlap with those
seen in public health medicine. Key skills and competencies include
the ability to communicate well, an interest in people and an
innate sense of curiosity.
Postgraduate training pathway
To progress within the speciality, regardless
of your core training, you will need a higher degree (PhD or MD).
Many people also undertake a taught or research based masters
degree in education or research as part of their training.
training curriculum for general practice is available.
Information around primary care research curricula is
Links and reading