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NHS England ICA (Integrated Clinical Academic) Predoctoral Bridging Scheme

Key information

Course type:

Assessed Module

Credit level:


Credit value:



12 months including the 8 week PhD Funding Proposal Development in Healthcare Research Level 7 course

Available course dates:

From: 01 January 2024 To: 31 December 2024
Application deadline: 18 September 2023

Course overview

The NHS England Workforce, Training and Development (fomerly HEE) Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Pre-doctoral Programme for non-medical healthcare professionals across London. The Pre-doctoral Programme will be hosted by King’s College London in consortium with London South Bank University (LSBU).  

The Integrated Clinical academic (ICA) Pre-doctoral programme aims to support nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and allied health professionals to prepare a competitive application for a NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship or equivalent research training award. Participation in this programme will enable development of a clinical academic career along the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical academic (ICA) pathway.

There are ten places available. Successful applicants are entitled to a maximum of 332 study hours (44 days) taken flexibly in agreement with their NHS organisation over 12 months. HEE will make a direct training allowance contribution of £5,000 per awardee towards employer costs to seconding NHS Trusts. Successful applicants will have all course fees paid to enrol in the King’s College London 30 credit Level 7 course titled PhD Funding Proposal Development in Healthcare Research Level 7 (7KANR001).

What does this course cover?

Programme outline

Some elements of the programme can be tailored to individual needs and will be accessible remotely.

Taught content

  • Trainees will enrol in the 30-credit level 7 course titled PhD Funding Proposal Development in Healthcare Research Level 7 (7KANR001). This is an 8-week course commencing in April and is equivalent to 300 hours of study.
  • Trainees will attend a pre-doctoral fellowship workshop covering details of the NIHR PCAF, what the panel is looking for in a strong application; training opportunities through the faculty; support available from the research office; personal accounts from successful candidates.
  • Trainees will be able to attend (non-credit) modules in research methods and skills (introductory and advanced) depending on prior research training and can negotiate access to other courses on an individual basis.
  • Trainees can access the range of courses offered by the Health Sciences Doctoral Training Centre, Centre for Doctoral Studies and those on King’s Skills Forge. These will be selected according to the individuals training needs during the creation of their bespoke training plan with their supervisor/mentorship team. 

Research mentorship, executive coaching, and reflection

  • Trainees will be allocated a clinical-academic supervisor from King’s or LSBU and must identify a senior healthcare professional from an NHS organisation to act as a clinical mentor. Trainees will receive a minimum of monthly supervisor / mentor meetings (face to face or virtually). Shadowing and teaching/research opportunities.

Shadowing and teaching/research opportunities

  • Trainees will be affiliated to a relevant research group/Division at King’s or LSBU, with an average monthly attendance of one hour.
  • Opportunities will be provided for shadowing PhD supervision (maximum of 6 hours).
  • Trainees will have access to other research activities such as Grant Writing workshops and Journal Clubs.

Expected outputs

  • Completion of the PhD Funding Proposal Development in Healthcare Research Level 7 course which includes submission of a draft NIHR doctoral application and a 5-minute formative presentation.
  • Twenty-minute presentation of their research proposal to their respective research group
  • A e-portfolio of evidence supporting achievement of agreed learning objectives and programme outcomes.

Who will I learn with?

The programme is being offered collaboratively by King’s and LSBU within the Faculties and Schools of Nursing, Midwifery, Pharmacy and Allied Health. You will work with an academic supervisor and a NHS mentor.

What will I achieve?

What will I achieve?

  • Develop knowledge on research, evaluation and quality improvement methods.
  • Understanding of the ICA training scheme, the processes involved in preparing a doctoral application, and how to work with supervisors and mentors.
  • Exposure to a research rich environment within the clinical and academic setting with appropriate opportunities to develop research skills.
  • Develop a proposal of new research for submission for a Doctoral Fellowship (or PCAF if appropriate).
  • Build on understanding of leadership and the four pillars of Advanced Clinical Practice.
  • Opportunity to present and discuss their research proposal with a wide stakeholder group.

Who is this for?

The ICA Pre-doctoral programme is open to those individuals who meet the following criteria:

Essential criteria:

  • Registered with a relevant professional statutory regulatory body as per ICA programme requirements (NOTE: doctors and dentists are NOT eligible to apply). 
  • Employed by an NHS provider of health or social care services with at least 50% of services free at point of delivery; and at least 50% of their current role spent delivering health or social care services.
  • Working in an NHS primary, secondary or community care organisation within the London region ONLY.
  • Working at a Band 6 practitioner level or above.
  • Demonstrable motivation to become a clinical academic and apply for a NIHR clinical doctoral fellowship or equivalent training scheme.
  • Demonstrate potential to become a clinical and research leader of the future.

Desirable criteria:

  • Evidence of participation in previous service evaluations, audits, or research.
  • At least one publication as a co-author in a peer reviewed health journal OR a presentation at a national or international research conference.
  • Masters or BSc with at least a 2:1. 


How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed according to your individual learning plan by your academic supervisor and NHS mentor. You will also be assessed according to the course criteria of the PhD Funding Proposal Development in Healthcare Research Level 7 (7KANR001) course.

Fees and discounts

The cost of this programme is funded by NHS England.

Further information

Applications for the January 2024 start are now closed. Details for 2025 entry will be published from Mid – July 2024. If you wish to register your interest, please email 

To apply, please download and fill out:

Please submit your Application form, CV and the letter of support from your employer as one PDF document. The file name should be: London_ICAPredoc followed by your first and last name. Please email the PDF to