Academic dentistry bridges research, clinical practice and teaching. It crosses the range of dental specialties, including restorative dentistry, paediatric dentistry, surgery, pathology and dental public health.
Dental clinical academics work in both universities and in the National Health Service. In universities they undertake research and are able to teach undergraduate or postgraduate students, passing their expert understanding to the coming generations, while in the NHS they ensure their knowledge is always based in current clinical practice.
When an early-career clinician is making an application to an academic post and already holds a PhD and a substantial research portfolio, this individual will often follow a ‘Teaching and Research’ pathway with clinical training and further research development.
A ‘Teaching and Scholarship’ pathway is also developing rapidly in the UK, with increased recognition of the equality of both teaching and research academic practise. In the Teaching and Scholarship pathway, the clinical training is developed alongside teaching-focused research or development. Both the Teaching and Research and Teaching and Scholarship posts may lead towards a Senior Lecturer or Senior Clinical Teacher/Honorary Consultant appointment. Senior Lecturer or Senior Clinical Teachers, without an Honorary Consultant role, are also quite common and these are held generally by individuals whose emphasis has been on academic, rather than clinical, training.
Within the four nations of the UK there are a number of other funded academic trainee posts, including: the NIHR-funded Academic Clinical Fellow or Clinical Lecturer posts in England, the Scottish Clinical Research Excellence Development Scheme (SCREDS), the Welsh Clinical Academic Track (WCAT) Fellowship Scheme and the Northern Ireland Clinical Academic Training Programme. The success of these programmes in terms of personal development and job satisfaction within dental academia is starting to be recognised. The aim of the CL post is to allow the trainee to gain a Senior lecturer/Honorary Consultant appointment on successful completion of their training.
Whichever route is followed, all of these positions can develop an academic trainee in their research, teaching and clinical excellence to apply ultimately for a Professorial appointment. Those academic leadership posts allow individuals to influence clinical departments, dental schools, universities and national bodies, thereby improving the care of patients and the education of future dental professionals.
The Dental Schools Council supports clinical academics in a range of ways.
Clinical academic jobs
http://www.clinicalacademicjobs.org/ is a non-profit website which enables jobseekers to search for current clinical academic positions across the UK’s undergraduate and postgraduate dental schools. It also links to relevant organisations which offer funding and training for clinical academic careers.
If you are from a dental school and wish to advertise a position on Clinical Academic Jobs, please email email@example.com to find your school’s registered contact for the website.
Clinical academic survey
Since 2000, the Dental Schools Council and the Medical Schools Council have undertaken a regular survey of clinical academic staffing levels in UK medical and dental schools. The reports include analysis by clinical specialty, vacancies, medical school/ region, funding source, age, gender and ethnicity. They chart how staffing has changed in these respects over time and offer a guide for which elements could be addressed in future.
The latest clinical academic survey can be found on the Policy & publications page.
If you would like to request previous editions of the clinical academic survey, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The Medical Schools Council publishes a survey of clinical academic staffing surveys for medicine and that is available on the Medical Schools Council website.
The article ‘Challenges and opportunities for recruitment to clinical academic medicine and dentistry’, written by Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Policy Adviser at the Medical Schools Council, is a useful introduction to issues surrounding recruitment to clinical academia. The article is supplemented with data from the clinical academic surveys.
Organisations that offer funding opportunities for dental clinical academics include:
- Academy of Medical Sciences
- Conference of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors UK
- Medical Research Council
- National Institute of Health Research
- NIHR National Coordinating Centre for Research Capacity Development
- UK Clinical Research Collaboration
- Wellcome Trust
Equality and diversity
The Dental Schools Council participates in the Women in Clinical Academia working group to examine barriers, real or perceived, to the career progression of women working in clinical academic medicine and dentistry. The working group is chaired by Deborah J Sharp, Professor of Primary Health Care at the University of Bristol. The group focuses on the following workstreams;
- Flexible training opportunities available to women and men working in clinical academic medicine and dentistry
- Student perceptions of a career in clinical academia
- International experiences of clinical academic careers
- Best practice in the recruitment and retention of women in clinical academia both in the UK and internationally
The Women in Clinical Academia working group launched its formal report at a conference held at the Royal Society of Medicine.
The following are some useful websites related to equality and diversity: