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Scottish Medical Training

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What the South-East Region SFP can offer you

The focus of the South-East SFP is on providing opportunities to conduct research. All SFP doctors are allocated a mentor at the start of training. This is done after discussion with the SFP doctor, we aim to match each individual with a clinical academic in a relevant discipline. Trainees may choose to develop research proposals with their mentor, or to work with others in the University whose research interests fit with their own. SFP doctors are also given an honorary University appointment, enabling them to participate in the many training opportunities available through the University and to access the library facilities. As in the other centres, the F1 year is a generic clinical foundation year allowing newly qualified doctors to gain experience in a range of clinical posts. Again, as with the other Scottish centres, there is no study leave funding allocation during F1 as the focus is on gaining clinical experience.

In the F2 year, there are two parallel schemes providing dedicated research time.

  • 9 of the 15 SFP doctors have the opportunity to undertake a four-month research block. These posts are allocated following an application process including the preparation of a research proposal, shortlisting and interview. The research blocks are particularly suited to those who wish to undertake lab research or analysis of large datasets. There will be no further protected time for research available in the remaining 2 clinical blocks. In order to maintain clinical skills during the research post the SFP doctor will participate in a standard on-call rota in a central location.
  • if you choose not to apply for a research block or are unsuccessful can take a half day per week (or equivalent, e.g. 1-day alternate weeks) spread through the whole F2 year. This may be more suitable for those undertaking longitudinal or smaller data-analysis projects.

Additionally, in clinical posts, 4 study leave days per block (up to 10 days per training year) can be taken for personal research during F2. The breadth of research associated with the University of Edinburgh means that research projects can be undertaken in most disciplines. It may be useful to contact previous foundation doctors to get their advice about the specialised programme and how each individual organised their training. Such information is often be very valuable.

Although we do not offer specific opportunities in teaching or leadership, SFP trainees can seek out their own opportunities e.g. through the Clinical Educators Programme.

Opportunities in research

The SFP represents a unique opportunity for early trainees to become involved in research. The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) has a ‘One Medicine, One Health’ strategy which is built upon integration of research from bench to bedside and from process to population. The University’s research is consolidated into multidisciplinary research centres clustered within research institutes on three major translational research campuses and linking with research excellence in the other colleges. Further details on the research institutes:

1. The Queen’s Medical Research Institute

2. Institute of Genetics and Cancer

3. The Usher Institute

4. Edinburgh Neuroscience

5. Institute for Regeneration and Repair

6. The Roslin Institute

7. UK Dementia Research Institute at Edinburgh

The choice of research project is not limited to within CMVM and research projects outside of these institutes and in different colleges can also be pursued e.g. within the College of Science and Engineering (for example the Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology) or the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Science. However, the research project must be conducted in Edinburgh. Trainees will be expected to meet their mentors and any other potential supervisors during their F1 year. This allows forward planning for projects and time to obtain ethical approval should it be needed.

The Edinburgh Clinical Academic Track (ECAT)

The ECAT programme was established in 2008 following the award of one of the first Wellcome Trust Clinical PhD programmes. Incorporating a clinical and academic PhD programme, supported by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Education Scotland, the ECAT scheme provides run-through clinical academic training that gives individuals flexibility, security and mentorship whatever their clinical discipline. Most ECAT trainees are ECAT Clinical Lecturers and typically enter the programme early in clinical training to undertake a prestigious Wellcome Trust funded PhD fellowship. This is followed by a postdoctoral clinical lectureship allowing for the completion of clinical training while maintaining academic momentum during applications for an Intermediate Fellowship. Previously a number of South East trainees have been successful in applying for the ECAT programme. More information can be found here.

Can I undertake a Masters Degree during the SFP?

SFP doctors may consider part-time distance learning through a Masters Degree or associated courses. There are a wide range of postgraduate courses and degrees available through the University of Edinburgh. There is no NES funding available but some previous trainees have applied successfully for support and funding from their Royal College or other Societies and Charities.

Academic Medicine in Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh continues to be a world leader in clinical research. In the Research Excellent Framework (REF) 2022, the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine ranked fourth in the UK based on the quality and breadth of its research. It is Scotland’s top ranked institution according to the Times Higher Education’s REF power rankings.

University of Edinburgh has an enviable track record in attracting high quality clinical PhD students and in postdoctoral training in clinical academics, including clinicians from “neglected” or “craft” specialities (including  emergency medicine, psychiatry, surgery, O&G, microbiology, pathology etc). While the number of clinical lectureships has declined substantially across the UK in the last 15 years, in Edinburgh there has been an investment in clinical academic trainees and the number of lectureships has expanded. 

The academic disciplines within medicine are largely concentrated in the two teaching hospitals in Edinburgh, namely the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France (RIE) and the Western General Hospital (WGH). The RIE is a state-of-the-art multi-speciality hospital linked to the Medical School on the Little France Campus. It is adjacent to the Edinburgh Bioquarter, a life sciences ecosystem that is home to world-leading research including the Institute of Regeneration and Repair and the Usher Institute, but also a growing number of award-winning companies.

The Western General Hospital (WGH) has undergone major redevelopment of its clinical research and teaching facilities. It is co-located with the Institute for Genetics and Cancer, which is home to almost 80 research groups, around 450 researchers and 120 PhD students. The Institute is a partnership between the MRC Human Genetics Unit, the Centre for Genomics and Experimental Medicine and the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre and provides access to state-of-the-art scientific facilities



For further information regarding South-East Specialised Foundation Programme please contact:

Dr Bryan Conway - Foundation Programme Director

Professor Malcolm Macleod - Academic Lead