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South West Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme HEE-NIHR Pre-doctoral bridging award (2022/23)

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South West Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme
HEE-NIHR Pre-doctoral bridging award (2022/23)
Guidance notes

For further information contact:


Health Education England (HEE) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have established an overarching Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme for registered health, social care and scientific professionals (excluding doctors and dentists) who hold registration with ICA approved regulatory bodies. The programme is for those who wish to develop careers that combine research and research leadership along with continued practice and professional development. The programme is intended to increase research capacity to improve health and care, by developing people with the potential and aspiration to become clinical/practitioner academics and leading independent research in the future.

The South West region has received national funding to support a number of bridging awards. This specific pre-doctoral bridging award supports individuals that have some research experience and is developing their research profile, have completed Masters level research training and aspire to gain funding to undertake doctoral research training. In the South West region, the pre-doctoral bridging award offers you the unique opportunity to develop an individualised, structured, development programme to advance your plans working with your clinical academic supervisor. The pre- doctoral bridging award should help you to strengthen your research profile and develop a doctoral fellowship application.

The South West Internship programme is aligned to eligibility criteria for the HEE- NIHR Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (DCAF) scheme (formerly the HEE-NIHR ICA Clinical Doctorate Fellowship). Prospective applicants must be employed by an NHS body based in England or by any other English provider of publicly or third sector funded health and/or social care services or by a recognised Higher Education Institution (HEI) based in England. The proposed clinical academic supervisor must be affiliated to a recognised Higher Education Institute based in England. It is essential that the proposed research area matches to HEE-NIHR interests (see NIHR remit for personal awards) and lends itself to development as a doctoral programme. Moreover, it is important for applicants to have support from their line manager.

Useful link: integrated-clinical-academic-programme.htm

The awards are open to Allied Health, Chiropractic, Dental Care, Optical, Osteopathic, Pharmacy and non-medical Public Health professionals, Healthcare Scientists, Midwives, Nurses, Practitioner Psychologists and Social workers. To be eligible for the pre-doctoral bridging award, you will need to provide evidence that you have the following:
•    Current registration with a relevant regulatory body as per HEE-NIHR ICA programme requirements (ICA approved regulatory bodies).
•    Applicants must hold substantive employment by a recognised Higher Education Institution (HEI) based in England, an NHS body based in England or by any other English provider of publicly or third sector funded health and/or social care services (for example, a commissioned social enterprise, local authority or hospice).
•    Your employment is based and connected to the following ICSs: Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire.
•    Applicants must have at least one year’s experience of professional, post- graduation practice
•    Applicants must hold a First Class or Upper Second Class bachelor’s degree or a Masters degree. For those without a bachelor’s degree, evidence of postgraduate study at Level 7 is desirable.
•    Applicants must have some research experience and/or research training to support preparedness for progressing to a PhD scheme.
•    Support from your employer to undertake the award

If you have previously received a South West internship award, you may apply for this pre-doctoral award. Provide clear evidence of the outcomes of this award in your application.
If you have applied previously for this award and been unsuccessful, you are welcome to apply again. There is no restriction on application attempts.

Duration of the award
You are expected to take up the award between 1st September 2022 and 31st March 2023. To allow for personal circumstance and service requirements, you can plan your pre-doctoral award programme flexibly up to a period of 12 months.
Requests for an extension on this period will be considered on an individual basis. You will be asked to specify the planned duration of your programme and to provide an outline plan.
How much is the award and how can the funding be used?
Each successful applicant will be awarded up to a maximum of £12,000 to cover costs including salary backfill, incidental costs, research and clinical supervision, and formal education costs. Suggestions on how the budget can be spent are presented below;
Clinical backfill: it is recognised that this may form the main budget expenditure. The most appropriate backfill arrangements can be decided by the awardee and their line manager.
Research project: this could include anything related to the applied research objectives from patient and public involvement expenses, travel expenses, equipment such as digital voice records, specialist software, transcription services, etc to support development of a project idea or practical skills. Please note that we are unable to fund laptops or computers.
Academic supervision and formal teaching: it is essential to have academic supervision throughout the award. Ideally this support should be from a University within the South West region, however it is recognised that some professional groups may have to find this support from outside of the region. It is recommended that academic supervision costs do not exceed 10% of the overall spending plan. Tailored support should allow award holders to develop a PhD application. This could include, but is not limited to: refining a research question, methods, PPI plans and funding requirements, a systematic review as first author, engagement with a wider research project and contribution to authoring a paper, development of research leadership skills. Taught sessions or focused mentorship to support wider development as a clinical academic such as building a sustainable research career; dissemination of good practice; personal effectiveness and development of a research aware and active multi-professional workforce.
Dissemination costs: an element of the award is to disseminate the findings through publications and/or conference presentations. Therefore the award can be used to fund conferences. Publication costs will only be provided where there is robust justification.

The amount awarded will be paid directly to the awardees employer. It is recommended that the spending plans are checked by finance teams prior to submission. A confirmed finance plan will be required from successful applicants prior to commencement of the award.

Award Support and Monitoring
Successful applicants will be expected to attend two sessions with holders of Southwest ICA awards. The sessions will offer opportunities to engage with your peer group of awardees, review your progress and consider requirements for application to NIHR ICA awards. You will be required to present about your award activities at one of the sessions.

A written progress report will be required at the half-way point of your programme (maximum of 2 pages) to provide an update on progress with objectives, challenges and successes, any amendments to plans (where applicable) and priorities for the remaining period.
A final report will be completed at the end of the award (maximum of 4 pages) to provide a summary of achievement of objectives and outcomes, challenges and successes, financial summary and future plans.

Preparing an application
You can arrange to get further information or advice about the award by emailing or the named HEI contacts included below.
Prior to submitting an application, it is recommended that applicants contact the research leads within your organisation to discuss applying for this award and investigate what support and help is available to you. You will also require support from a clinical academic supervisor to prepare your application. Ensure that you allow sufficient time to discuss your plans with your line manager/employer and your proposed supervisor(s).
HEI Contacts for ICA
The following people can be contacted with enquiries about potential clinical academic supervisors with relevant expertise.
AECC University College: Prof David Newell (

Bournemouth University: Prof. Vanora Hundley

Plymouth Marjon University: Prof Gary Shum (

University of Bath: Dr. Jenny Scott (
University of Exeter: Prof. Vicki Goodwin (

University of Gloucestershire: Prof. Jane Melton (

University of Plymouth: Dr. Lisa Bunn (

UWE Bristol: Assoc Prof. Mary Cramp (

You will need to prepare/obtain the following documents for your application. (Full application pack in the link below)
•    A completed checklist (see Appendix 1)
•    Curriculum Vitae (max. of 3 pages, 12 pt font)
•    Statement letter for pre-doctoral award (max. of 1,000 words excl. references)
•    Timetable for the programme
•    Spending plan for the £12,000 budget
•    Letter of support from line manager
•    Letter of support from clinical academic supervisor
Please refer to the checklist for further information about these items. Appendix 2 contains further information about preparing a sound application.


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