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In a rapidly changing healthcare environment, we need a robust evidence base to inform effective education and training. This study aimed to examine factors perceived to determine career progression in clinical education research in the UK. Six online focus groups were conducted, with 35 participants from a range of medical, dental, nursing, and allied health professions who identified as aspiring or early career clinical education researchers. Transcripts underwent thematic analysis. Two themes and associated subthemes were constructed to illustrate perceived factors impacting on career development: (1) A cultural challenge from clinical norms. Challenges included differences between the epistemological assumptions of biomedical and clinical research, and the underlying philosophy of education research, which is more closely aligned with the knowledge generation of the social sciences. This led to difficulty communicating the impact of education research to patient care. There were also blurred boundaries between education delivery and research, with the latter lacking a clearly defined group identity. (2) Structures, systems and relationships for career progression. Practical considerations included time and funding (or lack thereof), the opportunity to undertake formal training, networking and role models. This research highlights a number of systemic barriers and facilitators to careers in clinical education research and offers targets of intervention to enable a sustainable academic workforce in clinical education research.

Original publication




Journal article


Med Teach

Publication Date



1 - 9


Careers, barriers, challenges, education, enablers