Supervising an academic trainee may be a new experience for some trainers and supervisors.

We hope that this section of the website will provide some useful information and advice and ensure that academic trainees benefit fully from both their clinical and academic experiences.


1.  Types of Academic Trainee

For an introduction to the Academic Training Pathway - please see .

As a trainer or supervisor, you are most likely to be supporting Academic Clinical Fellows and Academic Clinical Lecturers during their clinical training.

Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF)           Typically Level 1/Level 2 Trainees

An Academic Clinical Fellowship offers a combined clinical-academic training programme in which a trainee is given dedicated research time in addition to a normal clinical training programme.  Over three years (usually ST1-ST3, also known as ACF1-ACF3) trainees are given 9 months (25% of their training time) for research without clinical commitments.  This research project will be within a specific paediatric sub-specialty and linked to a research group and faculty within London.  ACFs have the same requirements for clinical competencies as their peers, but less dedicated time in which to achieve them.  The aim of an ACF is to ultimately secure funding to undertake a PHD

Academic Clinical Lecturer (ACL)                 Typically Level 3 Trainees

Academic Clinical Lectureships are posts for trainees who have been awarded a PHD and continue to undertake a higher specialist training programme (such as Paediatric Training).  They are awarded by individual Research Institutes after trainee application and interview.  Each ACL appointment is unique, but posts are often for up to 4 years, and divide a trainee’s time between clinical and research activities.  The aim of an ACL is usually to apply for a Clinician Scientist post or University-funded Senior Lectureship


2.  Role of Supervisors

Academic Educational Supervisor

All Academic Trainees will be allocated an Academic Educational Supervisor during their research block, who will normally be their Project Supervisor.  Their role will be to support the Trainee in acquiring relevant research skills – including statistics, research governance, writing and literature searching – as well as supporting progress in their chosen research project.

Clinical Educational Supervisor

During their clinical rotations will have a Clinical Educational Supervisor to ensure their other training needs are met.

In ST1, academic trainees will complete 12 months of clinical rotations identical to their peers.

In ST2/ST3, academic trainees will complete 15 months of clinical rotations and 9 months of research without clinical commitments (during which time their Employer will be an affiliated University, and not the NHS Trust). This may be taken as a single block or split up into several shorted periods of time.

During Level 2/3 training, ACLs will have variable clinical commitments according to the terms of the appointment by the Research Institute.


3.  Paediatric Clinical Competencies

Academic trainees are first, and foremost, Paediatric trainees.  They therefore need to attain the same clinical experience as their non-academic peers but usually in a shorter time period.  This requires the trainee to be proactive, forward-planning and organised - for which their Clinical Educational Supervisor can be invaluable.


4.  Supervisor Meetings and ePortfolio

Academic trainees use Kaizen and the Progress Curriculum like all other Paediatric Trainees.  They will also need to demonstrate additional academic/research competencies, which will be reviewed at ARCP.

In addition to the normal components of any Supervisor meeting, valuable topics to address would include:

  • Clinical Experience and Confidence

For ST2/ST3 trainees who may be returning to the clinical environment after some time away, any concerns/anxieties/courses to support their return to practice

  • Personal Development Plan

For all academic trainees research-oriented PDPs to achieve relevant research skills, even during clinical attachments
(for example – Good Clinical Practice training course, statistics courses etc)

  • Progress Curriculum and Work-Placed Based Assessments

For Level 1 Trainees a plan to achieve mandatory DOPS for practical procedural skills

For all academic trainees a plan to evidence all domains of the Progress Curriculum – if challenges/gaps identified, how can this be remedied?


5. MRCPCH Examinations

As a trainer or supervisor, it is important to support all Trainees in planning for their MRCPCH examinations.  For academic trainees, forward planning is even more imperative.  Existing resources advise that written examinations be completed before starting their research block (usually in ST2).  This would then allow trainees to focus exclusively on their research during their 9-month protected block.


6. Pastoral Support

Well-being and Resilience Plans

Although not unique to academic trainees, coping strategies and resilience plans are of particular importance, given the unique challenges of academic training.  Some of the stressor that academic trainees encounter and have to manage include:

  • Heavy workload and commitments
  • Competition and application for research grants
  • Financial insecurity (recent trainees have experienced months without pay after times of transition between NHS and University employers)
  • Coping with failure
  • Career uncertainty

As a trainer or supervisor, it is essential to address these potential stressors and signpost to resources as appropriate.


7. Signposting

Resources as a trainer or supervisor that may be valuable to your academic trainees include:

  • LSP Academic Subgroup website resources here
  • SuppoRTT


Excellent Educational Supervision For the Academically-Interested Trainee

As a trainers or supervisor, nurturing an interest in research and academia is just as important in non-academic trainees.  We hope that this section of the website will provide some useful information and advice and ensure that all trainees can access academic experiences whatever their level of interest.


1. Research for all Trainees

All Paediatricians are academics and use research in their daily work when practising evidence-based medicine.  The importance of this has been highlighted in the new Progress Curriculum, which now has a dedicated Research Domain.  All trainees are expected to demonstrate skills of critical appraisal and engagement in a research activity.  Some trainees will be more interested in this domain than others and may want to seek additional opportunities and experience in the field of research.


2. Talking about Research

Supervisor Meetings and ePortfolio

In addition to the normal components of any Supervisor meeting, valuable topics to address would include:

  • Personal Development Plan
    • discuss research-oriented PDPs to achieve relevant research skills
      (for example – Good Clinical Practice training course, statistics courses etc)
  • Progress Curriculum and Work-Placed Based Assessments
    • Focus on Domain 11: Research
    • Research Opportunities During Training

As a trainer or supervisor, you are in a position to signpost the academically-interested trainee to opportunities to explore their interest in research.  You may work in a Department or Institute with research affiliations, and accessible research mentors you could link your trainee with.  If you do not, the Academic Subgroup of the LSP would be happy to support any interested trainee in helping them to find them a mentor (  A comprehensive list of ideas and inspiration for research activities in the workplace is accessible for trainees on the London School of Paediatrics website.

These include, but are not limited to:



Academic Training Pathways: a guide for trainees and trainers in the London Speciality School of Paediatrics
First Edition, September 2011

RCPCH Website – Domain of the Month, Domain 11: Research