Discovery research schemes – Q&As for health professionals
This advice is for health professionals who want to apply to our Wellcome Early-Career Awards and Wellcome Career Development Awards. Applicants should read this advice in addition to the information on scheme pages.
We recognise that academic health professionals must fulfil the professional requirements of their regulatory council. They generally have two employers: a university and a healthcare body such as the NHS. This advice is for those who need to maintain their clinical skills while developing their research careers.
Are there specific schemes for health professionals?
Wellcome is a major funder of academic health professionals. With the launch of our new schemes in 2021, health professionals can apply to our Early-Career Awards, Career Development Awards and Discovery Awards. We no longer have dedicated schemes for health professionals.
Definition of a health professional
A health professional is a healthcare worker who is registered with a national professional regulatory body. Such bodies include the General Medical Council and the Health and Care Professions Council. They should be registered in the country in which they are based and hold a licence to practice. They should be in active clinical practice and hold an appropriate contract with a healthcare provider such as the NHS.
This includes, but is not limited to, the following professions:
- allied health professionals (art therapists, chiropodists/podiatrists, dietitians, drama therapists, music therapists, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, osteopaths, paramedics, physiotherapists, prosthetists and orthotists, radiographers and speech and language therapists)
- clinical psychologists
- dental hygienists
- dental nurses
- dental therapists
- healthcare scientists (in life sciences, physiological sciences, physical sciences and biomechanical engineering and bioinformatics)
- health visitors
- non-medical public health specialty trainees, specialists or consultants
- optometrists and dispensing opticians
- pharmacy technicians
- practitioner psychologists
We appreciate that the process for maintaining clinical skills and registration for vets differs from that of other health professionals, and that not all vets may be engaged in active clinical practice. To be considered as a practising vet by Wellcome, you must:
- be registered with your relevant professional regulatory body (for example, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons)
- maintain this registration for the duration of the proposed award
- participate in relevant continual professional development activities – we acknowledge that this may not involve clinical practice.
No, there is no requirement to have a specified number of years of experience.
The term 'early-career' relates to the stage of your research career, and not your professional portfolio overall. Many people who apply for an Early-Career Award will be established professionals in their clinical sphere.
The Early-Career Awards and Career Development Awards are designed for particular career stages which reflect the maturity of your research expertise. You should look carefully at the entry criteria and consider which scheme is most relevant to you based on your experience.
Yes. Any previous applications to our Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships will not be taken into account when we assess your application.
Our Early-Career Awards and Career Development Awards are open to health professionals from any profession or speciality.
If you are not currently registered as a health professional and do not intend to practice during the award, you can still apply to our schemes. However, you cannot ask for salary support for maintaining clinical skills. You also cannot request salary funding on a health professional/clinical salary scale.
No. Applications can focus on any discipline – including science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), clinical research and experimental medicine, applied research, innovations, and humanities and social science – as long as it has the potential to improve human life, health and wellbeing, and aligns with our funding remit.
We have no criteria about how 'clinical' a project should be. Your application should clearly articulate your research plans and how you think that the proposed award would be a platform for your career progression.
What you can do during the award
Yes. We are keen that you maintain and develop your clinical skills. You can allocate 0.2 FTE (one day each week) for maintaining clinical skills. This should be arranged with an appropriate local healthcare provider, usually an NHS trust, health board or equivalent. It can involve general or specialist clinical service delivery.
For individuals in craft specialities, such as surgeons, interventional radiologists or cardiologists, anaesthetists, obstetricians and midwives, you can allocate up to 0.4 FTE for maintaining clinical skills.
We'll pay your full salary costs as part of this award, including for clinical work. You'll need to make sure:
- you are registered and licensed by your professional regulatory body
- you have an appropriate contract of employment (honorary or substantive) to deliver clinical care.
You can undertake this award part-time if this reflects your preferred working pattern.
But you cannot undertake this award part-time within a full-time working pattern in order to undertake clinical duties or to take a second salaried role for the remaining FTE.
Wellcome will cover 100% of your salary and within this, you can spend up to 0.2 FTE (0.4 FTE for craft specialities) time to maintain clinical competencies. If you want to integrate blocks of clinical training into the award, the healthcare provider must fund your salary during this time.
This mainly applies to medics who are registered as a doctor with a relevant professional council, but have not yet completed their speciality training.
If you have not completed your clinical training, you can formally integrate periods of clinical training into a proposed Early-Career Award. You are expected to have completed your clinical training before starting a Career Development Award.
We will consider an approach where an Early-Career Award awardee integrates a full-time break from their research for periods of 6-12 months to complete their clinical training.
We will not allow for clinical training to be undertaken on a part-time basis alongside an award. For example, 0.5 FTE spent on award research and 0.5 FTE spent on clinical training each week.
If you propose to integrate blocks of clinical training into an award, you'll need to present a detailed plan in your application to explain how you will achieve this. This plan must be agreed by your sponsor and the individuals overseeing your clinical training, for example, your training programme director. Wellcome staff are available to discuss this with you before you submit your application.
When writing your proposal, think about how many years of clinical training you need to incorporate and how this can be achieved in practice. You should consider whether you can complete sufficient clinical training within the proposed blocks, and what would happen to your research during these times.
We will not pay your salary while you undertake any blocks of clinical training; salary funding during this time must be provided by the healthcare provider. While your salary support from the award must be suspended during clinical training blocks, other research costs can be continued during this period if agreed with Wellcome.
This may be possible if your Wellcome award is your primary source of income – please contact us for advice.
We will not consider a request to conduct your Wellcome award part-time to enable you to undertake private practice work.
No, Wellcome will only make provision for a salary equivalent to up to 11 PAs.