Impact of UK academic foundation programmes on aspirations to pursue a career in academia

Med Educ. 2010 Oct;44(10):996-1005. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03787.x.


Objectives: This study aimed to determine the role played by academic foundation programmes in influencing junior doctors' desire to pursue a career in academic medicine.

Methods: We conducted an online questionnaire-based study of doctors who were enrolled on or had completed academic foundation programmes in the UK. There were 92 respondents (44 men, 48 women). Of these, 32 (35%) possessed a higher degree and 73 (79%) had undertaken a 4-month academic placement during Foundation Year 2. Outcomes were measured using Likert scale-based ordinal response data.

Results: From a cohort of 115 academic foundation trainees directly contacted, 46 replies were obtained (40% response rate). A further 46 responses were obtained via indirect notification through local programme directors. From the combined responses, the majority (77%) wished to pursue a career in academia at the end of the academic Foundation Year (acFY) programme. Feeling well informed about academic careers (odds ratio [OR] 16.9, p=0.005) and possessing a higher degree (OR 31.1, p=0.013) were independently associated with an increased desire to continue in academia. Concern about reduced clinical experience whilst in academic training dissuaded from continuing in academia (OR 0.15, p=0.026). Many respondents expressed concerns about autonomy, the organisation of the programme and the quantity and quality of academic teaching received. However, choice of work carried out during the academic block was the only variable independently associated with increasing the desire of respondents to pursue a career in academia following their experiences in the acFY programme (OR 6.3, p=0.007).

Conclusions: The results support the provision of well-organised academic training programmes that assist junior clinical academics in achieving clinical competencies whilst providing protected academic time, information about further academic training pathways and autonomy in their choice of academic work.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Career Choice*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medical Staff / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom