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Training in academic cardiology: prospects for a better future
  1. P Weissberg1,
  2. H Watkins2,
  3. D Crossman3,
  4. P Poole-Wilson4
  1. 1Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK
  3. 3Cardiovascular Research Group, Clinical Sciences Centre, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  4. 4National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Peter L Weissberg, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, ACCI, Box 110, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK;

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The current dearth of talented young doctors seeking to pursue a career in academic cardiology has resulted in a paucity of applicants for clinician scientist awards and failure to identify suitable candidates from within UK cardiology for vacant chairs. Such problems were anticipated long ago1 and were re-emphasised at the start of “Calmanisation” of clinical training.2–4 It is not simply that young doctors are no longer interested in research, as there is no shortage of applications for junior research fellowships, although this figure is undoubtedly inflated by the large number of junior doctors seeking research as a means of gaining a national training number (NTN). So why do we fail to retain young doctors in academic cardiology? Early experience of the Wellcome Trust's Cardiovascular Research Initiatives in Oxford and Edinburgh has identified clinical training in cardiology as the major obstacle to successful achievement of one of the trust's stated aims: “to develop research training and career development of clinical scientists interested in cardiovascular research”. The quest to ensure minimum standards of competency in all aspects of cardiological practice is resulting in uniformity at the expense of diversity and individuality to the inevitable detriment of academic cardiology.

The Savill report, The Tenure Track Clinician Scientist: a new career pathway to promote recruitment into academic medicine, recently published by the Academy of Medical Sciences,5 identified the following three key “generic” disincentives against an academic career: (1) lack of a clear career structure; (2) insufficient flexibility of clinical and research training opportunities for specialist registrars; and (3) prolonged insecurity. While these disincentives apply to all disciplines, they are particularly important in “craft” specialties such as cardiology with its longer, procedure orientated, training programme. Also, compared with their National Health Service (NHS) peers, academics may have limited income from …

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  • P Weissberg, H Watkins and P Poole-Wilson hold BHF chairs.