KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

Clinical Academic Training Office

KCATO Banner With Text Text

The King’s Clinical Academic Training Office (KCATO) offers advice, best practice and information on navigating a clinical academic career. We offer and signpost to training and development for all health professionals across all stages of their research careers to support our ambition to build a thriving pipeline of research-active health professionals.

Health professional researchers need to balance the pressures of clinical service, academic training and research. The KCATO will provide trainee-centred guidance to navigate the career journey so that King’s clinical academics emerge as highly skilled clinicians with the ability to deliver globally impactful research, as well as being inspirational role models.

The administration of the King's College London NIHR Integrated Academic Training Programme has moved under KCATO. If you have any queries on the IAT Programme, please use the same email as before IATadmin@kcl.ac.uk.

King's Clinical Academic Training Office Team

 KCATO Director  Prof Frances Williams 
 KCATO Deputy Director  Dr Rina Dutta
 KCATO Deputy Director  Prof Catherine Evans
 KCATO Manager Dr Gursimran Oberoi
 KCATO Manager Ms Nora Park
 IAT Programme Officer  Ms Kasia Bojko
 IAT Programme Officer  Ms Sheila Adeyemi
 Head of Doctoral Student Environment & Development  Dr Amy Moore
Vacancy Details

Further information and resources on training, development, funding and careers are available on the newly launched KCATO SharePoint site.

You can reach us at kcato@kcl.ac.uk and sign up to our newsletter here. Please also connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn!

For colleagues in any of the King's Health Partners who wish to access the SharePoint site, please request access via this form.



Booking Open: KCATO Workshop on Mentoring and Networking Event for Clinical Academics at King’s

Guy’s Campus, King's College London

  • Date: Thurs 27 April 15:30-18:30
  • Location: New Hunts House G.12, Great Maze Pond, London, SE1 9RT

KCATO will host a workshop and networking event for clinical academics across King's. Booking open with opportunity to attend both parts of the event or select one option.

​​​​​​​Part 1 - The Workshop:

Time: 15.30-17.00

Trainer: Dr Tracy Bussoli

Will you mentor me? How to use mentoring to enhance one’s clinical academic career

  • Are you, or have you been, a clinician that is also involved in research?
  • Despite your clinical experience, do you sometimes find the academic world a little challenging to navigate?
  • Have you ever thought that mentoring might be a useful tool to help you on your career journey?

If you answered yes to the above questions then this workshop is for you. During this 90 minute in-person session we will look at the role that mentoring can play in one’s career, ascertain what you need from a mentor (or mentors) and explore ideas for finding and working effectively with mentors.

It is an interactive session for anyone that has, or intends to have, a dual career in clinical practice and research.

Part 2 - Networking Session:

Time: 17.00-18.30

KCATO will host a networking event to provide you with an opportunity to meet other health professional researchers at King's. There will be drinks and food available during the events. Booking is mandatory and you do not have to attend the workshop to come to the networking session. All welcome!

Please sign up for the event via Eventbrite.

 A Woman Getting her Blood Pressure Tested (Hush Naidoo) from Unsplash

Health Professional Researchers Training Brochure

We have collated relevant training courses available via the Health Sciences Doctoral Training Centre (HSDTC) into a Health Professional Researchers Training Brochure. Please also visit the KCATO SharePoint site for further information and updates. 

KCATO Newsletters

Health professional researchers will receive quarterly newsletters from the King's Clinical Academic Training Office (KCATO). If you have not received the newsletters and would like to be added to our mailing lists, please sign up to our newsletter here.

You can also receive regular updates and find out more by following us on Twitter and connecting with us on LinkedIn.

All doctoral research students in the Health Faculties at King’s enrolled on a DClinPsy, MPhil, MRes, PhD, or other PGR degree, automatically receive monthly email updates from the Health Sciences Doctoral Training Centre (HSDTC).

However, if you are a pre- or post-doctoral research-active Health Professional, for example an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF or PCAF), Academic Clinical Lecturer (ACL), Clinical Research Fellow, or similar, at King's, and would like to be added to the HSDTC mailing lists, please email hs-dtc@kcl.ac.uk.

Past newsletters:

November 2022

September 2022

July 2022

May 2022

February 2022

October 2021

March 2021

If you have not received the newsletters and would like to be added to our mailing lists, please sign up to here.

Health Professional Researcher Profiles

At King’s we train the future generation of Health Professional research leaders across many disciplines.

Here, we introduce you to some of our Health Professional Researchers at King’s. We interviewed them to get an insight into their journey into a PhD and how they manage dual careers.

Captain Lawen Karim - Vascular Surgeon

Health Professional Researcher Profile: Captain Lawen Karim

Karim, Lawen - Royal Sandhurst Academy Military Photograph

Lawen, can you tell us about your research interests?

I am a specialist registrar in vascular surgery and in 2019 I decided to invest time out of clinical training to undertake a PhD, in order to develop and enhance my expertise in research, and ultimately contribute as a clinical scientist.

My research focuses on improving outcomes for patients with Critical Limb Ischaemia (CLI), the most severe manifestation of peripheral arterial disease.

We aim to develop a Blood Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technique; this is a novel objective tool which will help to identify patients who have had incomplete or inadequate peripheral arterial revascularisation, allowing early re-intervention to help achieve limb salvage.

What was your route into doing a doctorate at King’s College London?

My route into academic surgery was unconventional, as I had very little research experience prior to commencing my PhD.

I graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in 2015 where I was commissioned to the rank of a Captain in the British Army.

After completing and gaining relevant foundation and core surgical competencies in the traditional programme, I secured competitive London vascular surgery national training in 2017.

What are your long-term ambitions for your Clinical Academic Career?

After completing my PhD and having had papers published in high impact journals, I intend to return to surgical training to gain the relevant competencies to enable an academic consultant vascular surgeon with a strong passion in researching lower limb cutting edge modalities.

What has helped you progress in your Clinical Academic Career so far?

The academic department of vascular surgery at King's has an international reputation in research and has had papers published in many high impact journals.

Established academic surgeons in my host department at King's have provided ongoing support, guidance and supervision to develop my research.

We have regular departmental meetings in which we set monthly goals to achieve. In this time, I have developed important research skills including: paper critiquing; data analysis; paper writing; and verbal presentations.

What advice would you give to other Clinicians considering academic research?

My advice to prospective Clinicians pursuing research is to select the right project and department for you.

My non-academic background has in no way hindered my progress through my PhD and I believe it is the reason I have found it so exciting and interesting.

The success of any research is dependent on the ability to develop relationships with collaborators and scientific colleagues.

What is the most rewarding part of being a Clinical Academic Researcher?

I highly recommend that all surgical clinicians undertake a period of research as it gives you a different perspective to the patient care pathway.

It is rewarding to be involved in cutting edge surgery which will contribute to the vascular community and improve the care we provide to our patients in the future.

Published on 26 January 2021.

Dr Sheila McSweeney - Dermatologist


Health Professional Researcher Profile: Dr Sheila McSweeney

HPR Profile Photograph - McSweeney, Sheila

Sheila, could you give us a summary of your route into a PhD, including your previous research experience, and how this was funded?

I undertook medical training in my home city in Ireland and was lucky to have opportunities to gain some basic research experience by undertaking laboratory-based projects at home and abroad.

I also took a year out of training to do an intercalated degree in immunology at King’s College London, which was not particularly common at that time.

These experiences gave me insights into clinical and academic medicine in different countries, and inspired me to remain active in both fields throughout my training.

Following graduation, I came to the UK and undertook training in internal medicine and dermatology. I then began to consider opportunities to further develop my research skills and ambitions.

I am very grateful to have received support from a BRC Clinical Fellowship, as this allowed me to take time out from clinical training and provided me with protected research time for 12 months to develop my research proposal and successfully apply for funding.

What are your long-term ambitions for your clinical academic career?

I hope to use my PhD to explore the pathogenesis of solar urticaria and provide insights that benefit patient care, as the currently available treatments are not particularly effective.

Thereafter, I will complete my clinical training and hope to build a post-doctoral research career exploring aspects of cutaneous allergy, including solar urticaria, other forms of physical urticaria, and contact allergy.

Ultimately, I aspire to work as both a clinician and an academic with my time divided between both aspects of medicine.

What tips would you give to a Health Professional who is starting an out-of-programme research project, such as a PhD or MD(Res)?

Perhaps I am being somewhat glib in saying this, but I think being organized is critical as you are master of your own time, while if I were to pick a second piece of advice, I would suggest that being resilient—even to the point of stubbornness—is so important. Everyone will inevitably experience setbacks and it is one’s response and persistence in the face of adversity that is most important.

What support has been most helpful to you in terms of navigating your clinical academic career to date?

Speaking to people who have blazed the trail before you: their experiences are invaluable, and you realise that research is accessible to all and that people will follow varied pathways into and through research.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a Health Professional Researcher?

I think the complementarity of clinical practice and academic research is the most rewarding aspect of being a Health Professional Researcher. Clinical practice inevitably raises unanswered questions, while academia provides you with the skills and tools to answer those questions.

Published on 10 February 2021.


Professor Bijan Modarai - Consultant Vascular Surgeon

Health Professional Researcher Profile: Professor Bijan Modarai

Professor Bijan Modarai is the King's Chair in Vascular Surgery and a British Heart Foundation (BHF) Senior Clinical Research Fellow. He completed his Basic Surgical Training in London before being awarded a BHF Clinical PhD Studentship in 2002. He graduated with a PhD in Biochemistry in 2006 and completed his Higher Surgical Training as an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer at King's and as an Endovascular Fellow at The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. He was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Vascular Surgery at King's and Honorary Consultant Vascular Surgeon at GSTT in 2012, having secured a BHF Intermediate Clinical Research Fellowship. He was awarded a Hunterian Professorship by The Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2017.

He is a Council member of the British Society for Endovascular Therapy, examines for the Fellowship of European Board of Vascular Surgery and co-leads the GSTT/King's Biomedical Research Centre School of Translational & Experimental Medicine.

Bijan is the King’s medical lead for INSPIRE, an initiative from the Academy of Medical Sciences that seeks to engage medical, dental, and veterinary undergraduates with research.

We chatted to Bijan about his career as a clinical academic, and in particular his views on enhancing the diversity of the pipeline of future clinical academic leaders.

HPR Profile Photograph - Modarai, Bijan

Bijan, tell us about a typical day (or week) in the life of a clinical academic leader in vascular surgery? 

The great thing about being a clinical academic is that no day or week is the same! My role is fully funded by the British Heart Foundation, allowing dedicated time for research and the opportunity to maintain a flexible timetable depending on what the clinical demands are. Clinically, my time involves seeing patients, participating in MDTs (multidisciplinary team meetings), operating, and on call sessions. 

Research-wise, I spend my time supervising PhD students, in lab meetings, liaising with national and international collaborators, and forging new collaborations to get new research off the ground. My research team spans basic and translational science, from cell biology in the lab to data-driven clinical research. It’s very much a bedside, to bench, to bedside model. I also spend time reviewing papers, writing grants, and (less so now in the pandemic) attending meetings to present and discuss the research with international colleagues. 

One thing that I’d say has helped me in navigating the dual career as a clinician and researcher is focussing my clinical practice to a specific, specialised area. It’s really important not be a jack of all trades clinically as you’ll have no time for research.  

Looking back to the early stages of your career, what do you think were the biggest challenges in forging your career as both a clinician and a researcher? What tips did you find helped you overcome these?

Many clinicians are concerned that there’s a perception that if you take time out for a PhD, then you de-skill clinically. Perhaps it’s getting better these days, but when I started it was relatively unusual for an individual in a craft speciality such as mine to take three years out for research towards a PhD. It’s important that Trusts and academia work together to improve this, and that clinical training committees have appropriate expectations for clinicians who are also doing research.  

However, a key piece of advice I’d give to clinicians is that in order to have kudos with your clinical colleagues, it’s important to strive hard to ensure you achieve the same, if not better, clinical competencies than your clinical colleagues not doing research. This is an important mindset to have and is achievable with the right prioritisation strategies. I’d encourage any clinician undertaking time out of programme for a research degree to try and carve out flexible time e.g. an afternoon a week, to maintain clinical skills. 

What got you interested in research?

In truth, I didn’t set out knowing I’d be a clinical academic. I did an intercalated BSc in medical school, that gave me a taste of research. What really led me into this path was the mentorship and opportunities I was exposed to early on in my early clinical jobs.  I had some excellent mentors who encouraged me, and with them I wrote a proposal for a PhD, funded by the BHF. I wasn’t sure whether doing research was the right thing to do, and at that stage there was no defined career path, but then the NIHR IAT programme was created and I was one of the first NIHR-funded surgical ACLs.  

The period after a PhD can be particularly difficult to navigate as a clinician. How should clinical PhD students find opportunity to stay engaged in research after their degree?

This is still a huge issue that we need to tackle, namely the lack of opportunities post-PhD to continue driving up research outputs in order to be competitive for clinician scientist or intermediate fellow funding. The way I achieved it was through supervising a PhD student whilst I was an ACL, thereby enhancing the research outputs to be competitive for the BHF intermediate fellowship. 

Many clinicians don’t realise that there’s no one size fits all, in the quest to be a clinical academic. In many ways, everyone must forge their own bespoke pathway at every stage.  Key to this is the relationships you cultivate, both within the Trust (e.g. your Programme Director) and academic colleagues. You need to bring people on board to help you navigate the pathway. Skills in negotiation, interpersonal skills, all are key and should not be underestimated.  

It can be more difficult for those in minority groups to imagine themselves achieving this when there are fewer senior role models who look like them. While things are improving, women and BAME communities are still underrepresented in cardiovascular surgery and in senior clinical academic research. Again, seeking mentorship is key. There are many ways to find mentors outside your immediate clinical or academic environment. For example, social media helps you see what people are interested in and connect with them. Attend talks and events, and crucially, don’t be shy – talk to people afterwards. I remember an inspirational talk I attended from a young Asian plastic surgeon which left a long-lasting impression – this was 25 or 30 years ago. If someone inspires you, contact them, don’t wait, or assume they won’t have the time to respond. It’s flattering to be contacted no matter what level you’re at. 

However, it’s certainly not just down to the individual. It’s the responsibility of senior people to seek talent and provide opportunities based on merit, to everyone. We must always be conscious of the balance of opportunities we give people. More senior academics must also highlight examples of successes from those they mentor, and from underrepresented groups in particular. I’d also recommend participating unconscious bias training, to help you think about biases you’re not even aware you have. 

What other advice do you give early stage clinical academic colleagues?

You can’t do everything! It’s so important to have focus, and to decide what the priorities are in conjunction with good advice from colleagues. If you’re good, you’ll be approached to do 101 different things, and part of your success depends on filtering those, knowing where your talents are, and where your time is best spent. 

You can’t underestimate the importance of having the skills to work in a team, and interpersonal skills to find mutually beneficial opportunities that help you move forward. Always be grateful to those who do help you. Find ways to be part of a supportive, social, non-hierarchical cohort of clinicians and scientists. Don’t be arrogant, know at the early stage that you’re starting from scratch as a researcher, have humility and be the kind of person that others want to see succeed. 

Published on 24 February 2021.

Tootie Bueser - British Heart Foundation Cardiac Genetic Nurse


Health Professional Researcher Profile: Ms Tootie Bueser

  • Tootie is a Registered Nurse, whose clinical specialty is Inherited Cardiac Conditions, and she is based at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care

  • Tootie's thesis title is Developing a psychoeducational intervention to support patients undergoing screening and/or predictive genetic testing for inherited cardiac conditions (the PISICC study) 

HPR: Tootie Bueser

Tootie, could you give us a brief summary of your route into a PhD, including previous research experience, and how this was funded?

I have always wanted to pursue a research career even as a nursing undergraduate. As a nurse who trained in a different country (the Philippines), I did not find a supportive environment for this when I started working in the UK. It wasn’t until I was mentored five years down the line by a senior nurse and championed by a cardiology consultant to pursue an MSc that the pathway to a clinical academic career became a possibility for me. I was then nurtured and supported in the cardiovascular and genetics departments at King’s College Hospital and Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital which gave me a taster for conducting primary research. I was also becoming more advanced in my clinical practice as a cardiac genetics nurse and identifying gaps in care where evidence was sparse and where I felt I could make a difference. With the guidance of my academic supervisors at KCL, I was able to develop a successful application for the NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship.  

What are your long-term ambitions for your clinical academic career?

I have grand plans to set the standard for cardiac genetic nursing practice, have a research group of my own and forge international research collaborations focused on improving the care of patients and families affected by inherited cardiac conditions - maybe one day! I also want to inspire more nurses to pursue the clinical academic career pathway and be a good mentor for them. 

What tips would you give to a clinician newly embarking on an out-of-programme research project, such as a PhD or MD(Res)?

I think it is important to have a good balance of research and clinical time. As nurses, we are already qualified so it is key to focus on honing research skills during the PhD but we also need to keep in mind what we need to maintain, or if needed increase, our clinical skills and knowledge. Do not lose touch with your clinical team and set up a patient and public group to guide your research so you are always aware of what is important to patients. Be out there, meet a range of people from different research backgrounds who will not only enhance your academic experience but perhaps turn out to be great collaborators on future projects. On a practical note, get your ethics application in early!  

What support has been most helpful to you in terms of navigating your clinical academic career to date?

My academic supervisors have been great at supporting me through my PhD so choose well! It is also crucial that you get support from your clinical team/management as often as nurses, you must work with them to define your role post-PhD and how to make best use of your new skills. Also, find mentors outside your institution/profession as often they can be helpful in achieving your short-term goals and give you a broader view and opportunities for your clinical academic career.  

Finally, I don’t think I could have survived this far without the support of my PhD peer group and we have helped each other navigate forms and regulations, I always have someone to lean on through all sorts of ups and downs and we cheer each other on with our successes. Doing a PhD can be quite isolating so having a peer group, alongside quality time with family and friends, counteracts this. 

What is the most rewarding thing about being a Health Professional Researcher?

I think being a clinical academic gives you a mindset where you are always actively looking for ways to improve patient care and I think as a nurse, I have a unique insight on how patients experience care and cope with their condition. I find it really rewarding to be able to work collaboratively with patients to design and conduct research that is pertinent to them and to be able to impact on their care more widely that goes beyond an individual consultation.  

Published on 19 April 2021.

Dr Graham Blackman - Training in General Adult Psychiatry

Health Professional Researcher Profile: Dr Graham Blackman

Blackman, Graham - HPR

Graham, could you give us a brief summary of your route into a PhD, including previous research experience, and how this was funded?

I originally studied psychology at University before deciding to complete a graduate entry medicine degree. Prior to studying medicine, I had a couple of years of research experience under my belt which was really helpful in getting a flavour of what it was all about. Prior to taking time out of clinical training to complete a PhD, I was an academic clinical fellow (ACF) on the Maudsley Training Programme which provided 25% protected research time. I’ve long considered a career in research, so taking time out of clinical training when the opportunity arose felt natural. 

What are your long-term ambitions for your clinical academic career? 

After completing my PhD, I will be returning to clinical practice to complete my training and gain my Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). I hope to continue having some protected research time during the rest of my clinical training to further several clinical studies that I’m involved in which look at improving clinical care in patients suffering with psychosis. Ultimately, my long-term ambition is to be able to balance a career as a clinician and academic. 

What tips would you give to a clinician newly embarking on an out-of-programme research project e.g. a PhD or MD(Res)? 

My main advice would be to gain research experience as early as possible. The time frame to conceive, plan, execute and publish a study is quite considerable and therefore careful planning is necessary. The other piece of advice I would give a budding clinical academic would be to seek out opportunities to work alongside a research team with a track record of securing grants and publishing in high impact journals.  

What support has been most helpful to you in terms of navigating your clinical academic career to date? 

In terms of formal support, being a clinical academic within the Maudsley and IoPPN has been hugely beneficial in providing the infrastructure, training, and support to navigate a rewarding, yet challenging career path. For example, through the ACF programme I was enrolled in a postgraduate certificate in clinical research, had protected research time, and dedicated training days. Informal support has also been critical - particularly in the form of advice and mentoring from other trainees, as well as more senior colleagues. 

 What is the most rewarding thing about being a clinical academic researcher? 

This is entirely personal, but in my case it's the opportunity to continue to learn and challenge myself – there are so many facets to research, from generating research ideas, to managing a project through to completion, to analysing the data and disseminating the results. Furthermore, the chance of making a contribution towards improving care in patients suffering a serious mental disorder is a huge privilege. Finally, my experience in clinical research has really helped improve me as a psychiatrist by gaining a much deeper understanding of the disorders I see on the wards and in clinic. 

Published on 14 May 2021.

Peter Chessum - Consultant Advanced Clinical Practitioner

Health Professional Researcher: Mr Peter Chessum

  • Peter is coming to the end of the first year of his self-funded PhD, based at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care.

  • He is a consultant advanced clinical practitioner and is currently working in Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust.

  • Peter’s working thesis title is Advanced Clinical Practitioners in the Emergency Department: a mixed-method study of practice using a resilient healthcare lens.

Peter Chessum

Peter, could you give us a brief summary of your current clinical role and route into a PhD, including previous research experience, and how this was funded?

In 2009, I moved to Birmingham and became an Emergency Care Advanced Clinical Practitioner (EC-ACP). EC-ACPs complete master’s degrees to expand their scope of practice, enabling them to see, treat, admit or discharge patients across the acuity spectrum in emergency departments. I was very fortunate to gain expert nursing and medical supervision to develop as a rounded clinician. I was invited to work with the Centre for Workforce Innovation, Department of Health, and Royal College of Emergency Medicine to develop a national competency framework for ACPs working in emergency care.

My introduction to National Institute of Health Research was via a research project called the Emergency Care Pathway and the Potential for Harm of Clinical Handover Failures (ECHO). This work identified potential harms from clinical handovers and organisational deficiencies that affect clinical handover. I joined the project to help with data collection but was grateful for the opportunity to be included in developing the analysis and discussion.

In 2016, I became the Lead ACP for Heart of England NHS Trust emergency department and had published and lectured in national forums about the role of ACPs. I was approached by several organisations to assist in the development of their ACP teams. I formed a company ADPRAC to provide consultancy advice and enable qualified EC-ACPs to role model their skills in other emergency departments. ADPRAC now employs over 70 staff and delivers clinicians to over twenty urgent care centres or emergency departments.

What are your long-term ambitions for your clinical academic career?

Health Education England has defined four pillars of advanced practice, clinical, facilitating learning leadership, and research. I aim to expand my research and teaching capabilities to round off my skills portfolio as a clinician and leader in the NHS.

What tip(s) would you give to a health professional starting out in academic research, e.g. a PhD or MD(Res)?

My tip if choosing a PhD, would be to consider working with supervisors from a non-clinical background. I have supervisors that are safety scientists, ergonomists, and health improvement experts. This diversity is a great strength for my research as it enables me to explore new ways of thinking in a safe environment.

What has been the most unexpected thing that has helped or hindered you in your clinical academic career to date? How have you dealt with/overcome any challenges?

A pandemic.

Working remotely is exceptionally difficult because you lack contact with other students facing the same academic challenges. Increasing the contact points with my supervisors to as much as once a week has helped me this year.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a clinical academic researcher?

I started the PhD because I wanted to develop my ability to think critically and understand how research could enhance quality improvement. After only the first year, I know that I think differently, which has benefited my career in many ways.

Published on 18 June 2021.

Freya Brown - Paediatric Diabetes Specialist Nurse

Health Professional Researcher: Freya Brown

HPR: Brown, Freya

Freya, could you give us a brief summary of your route into a PhD, including previous research experience, and how this was funded?

My first degree was a BA Hons in English Lit, and I aspired to be an actress when I graduated which, unsurprisingly, didn’t happen!  After several temporary jobs, some travelling, and a re-evaluation of what I wanted to do career-wise, I decided on paediatric nursing.  I started my nurse training when I was 29, which was only possible due to the bursary and support offered to mature students at that time.  After qualifying, I worked as a staff nurse on paediatric wards for approximately three years where I developed an interest in working with young people living with diabetes.  In 2009, I started my first job as a PDSN. 

I was interested in further study and heard about the Doctoral Fellowship awarded by FEND.  This offers a fantastic opportunity to pitch your ideas for a research project and, if successful take your project forward while developing research-related knowledge and skills.   My salary, university fees and most of my research costs were funded by FEND for three years. However, I have now returned to clinical work three days a week while I finish writing up my PhD.  Although I am enjoying working as a PDSN again, it has taken a while to adjust to working part time in the NHS and part time on the PhD, and the importance of setting boundaries and protecting allocated time is becoming increasingly evident. 

Apart from assisting with recruitment and data collection for a couple of clinical research studies when working as a PDSN, I had no prior research experience when I started the PhD, and I do not have a Masters. 

What are your long-term ambitions for your clinical academic career? 

I would like to continue working clinically one or two days a week.  I enjoy working with young people and families, and I also think that embedding researchers within clinical settings could help address the research-practice gap.  The plan is to apply for funding to continue with my research so that I can build on the findings from my PhD project. 

What tip(s) would you give to a clinician newly embarking on an out-of-programme research project e.g. a PhD or MD(Res)? 

Listen to the advice of people who are further along in the research process than you or have completed their project.  They will have a wealth of invaluable advice and can be a source of much appreciated support and encouragement.   

Having said that, don’t compare your progress to that of others too much.  Their situation will be different, and your projects will also vary.  If your supervisors think you’re on track, then don’t worry. 

Generally, assume things will take longer than you expect, and try to factor that in (I thought this was just me but, after talking to other PhD students, it seems not!).    

Factor in ‘thinking time’; this is important when planning and carrying out research, and when analysing findings. Coming from a busy clinical work environment, spending time thinking (and seemingly producing little) could make me feel guilty and like I was not making progress - this was (usually) not the case. 

Although your friends and family may be very supportive, in my experience it’s unlikely that they want to talk in depth about the research process.  They may not mind me practising my elevator pitch or ‘5-minute thesis’ on them, but eyes tend to start glazing over if I go into too much detail.  So, one of many reasons why it’s great to have friends who are also early years researchers is that you can discuss your projects in more detail and bounce ideas off each other.  Engage with the social side of uni life as much as possible and talk to other people doing MSc/PhDs. 

What support has been most helpful to you in terms of navigating your clinical academic career to date? 

I have fantastic supervisors; they are knowledgeable, approachable, accessible, encouraging, but also challenge me.  Also, my partner, friends, family, and the KCL Florence Nightingale Faculty Diabetes team (who have become valued friends – see above). 

What is the most rewarding thing about being a clinical academic researcher? 

Any moment when you think ‘this is really interesting and may even contribute a little to increasing our knowledge and/or understanding and improving experiences’.  Also, I imagine it would be amazing to see recommendations from a project you were involved in adopted in practice, but I’m not there yet!

Interview occurred on 11 February 2021.



  • Explore King’s

Accommodation Take a look at our comfortable, safe residences to suit your budget, located close to King's teaching campuses. 
Student life Art, food, music, shopping – you'll never find yourself with nothing to do in the world's most vibrant city.
Extra-curricular Discover the huge variety of extra-curricular opportunities at King’s, from MOOCs to language courses.
London living With four campuses by the River Thames and one in south London, King's is right in the heart of the capital.

Next steps

View a prospectus

Learn more about the degree programmes on offer at King's.

Undergraduate prospectus

Postgraduate guide