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Research for nurses, midwives and AHPs

Providing information for nurses, midwives and AHPs who want to develop a career in research, are thinking about undertaking their own research study, or just want more information about research opportunities.

NMAHP research at CUH

The Trust has a vision to “become a world-leading centre for NMAHP research and a nationally recognised leader in developing and supporting clinical academic careers for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals”.

Professor Christi Deaton, based at CUH, leads the Clinical Nursing Research Group (opens in a new tab) (CNRG) at the University of Cambridge. She took up post as Florence Nightingale Professor of Clinical Nursing Research in 2013 and has led the development of the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Research Strategy 2016-2018 (available to download below).

Professor Deaton and Alexandra Malyon, the Trust's lead research nurse, also lead the Clinical Research Leadership (CRL) Group - open to any NMAHPs within CUH and the University of Cambridge interested in developing research culture and capacity -  which meets regularly to oversee the implementation of the NMAHP research strategy.

The aims of the group and research strategy follow the principles of research capacity building proposed by Cooke (2005) (opens in a new tab).

  • Ensuring research is integral to practice
  • Building skills and confidence
  • Investing in infrastructure
  • Developing linkages and collaboration
  • Developing actionable dissemination
  • Building sustainability and leadership

For more information about the group, how to join the group or about NMAHP research, please email Alexandra Malyon , Christi Deaton

Non-urgent advice: What's new?

The RCN have created an information page about nursing careers, including a career as a research nurse.

A new network for clinical academics and their managers in the East of England has been created. Follow them on twitter @CAPNEast.

HEE East of England has funded a 3-year programme of internships, pre-doctoral and post-doctoral bridging

The UEA has created information for managers and employees about the HEE / NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme.

Your NIHR AHP research champions are John Martin, Paramedic, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and Carol Payne, Physiotherapist, Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital.

See to find out about the experience of NMAHPs in research. Their researchers talked to 45 NMAHPs from across the UK. Find out what people said about issues such as their research activities, working with colleagues, supporting patients and career progression.

The NIHR website has information about research nursing (opens in a new tab) and includes case studies illustrating career opportunities in research delivery. You can also sign up for their e-newsletter.

Staff joining the delivery workforce at CUH will undergo research-specific training and induction; more information about research nursing roles is available here (opens in a new tab).

Job opportunities in research delivery are advertised on the Trust website or via Cambridge University (opens in a new tab).

Research groups and resources

National Groups and Resources

National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) 

The NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.

Its mission is to provide a health research system in which the NHS supports outstanding individuals working in world-class facilities, conducting leading-edge research focused on the needs of patients and the public.

The NIHR has developed a toolkit that includes resources and success stories for NHS staff to understand and promote research. The resources within the toolkit are divided into sections with guidance for healthcare professionals, academic researchers, NHS managers, and patients, carers and the public.


INVOLVE is part of, and funded by, the NIHR to support active public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research.

INVOLVE provides resources and guidance to researchers about patient and public involvement (PPI) with research.

Health Research Authority (HRA)

The HRA’s purpose is to protect and promote the interests of patients and the public in health and social care research.

Their website has information and resources for researchers, for example funding information, protocol templates and information about researchers’ responsibilities.

Cambridge Groups and Resources

Cambridge Nurses in Research (CNiR)

CNiR is a group of research active nurses, midwives and allied health care professionals who are based in and around Cambridge.

The group works in a variety of areas within primary, secondary and tertiary care settings and academia.

Their goal is to improve patient care through research. They aim to support each other, share knowledge and establish a programme of research to improve nurses and allied health care professionals' experience of and involvement in research.

They are an inclusive group and welcome new members. Meetings are held every third Wednesday in the Herchel Smith Building on the Forvie Site.

Clinical Nursing Research Group (CNRG)

The CNRG is led by Florence Nightingale Foundation Professor of Clinical Nursing Research, Christi Deaton, joined by Dr. Ian Wellwood, Dr. Frances Early, Faye Forsyth, Susana Borja-Boluda, Peter Hartley, Gillian Gatiss, Carole Gardener and Annette Aylward.

They join a rapidly expanding multi-disciplinary team of researchers at the Department of Primary Care and Public Health as members of the Primary Care Unit.

The CNRG's remit is to conduct research focusing on improving outcomes in people with long-term conditions, and to build research capacity and capability among nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in CUH and the School of Clinical Medicine.

Qualitative research forum

This is a monthly forum for sharing qualitative research findings and methods.

Cambridge Research Networks

These have been established by the University of Cambridge to bring together multidisciplinary communities of researchers to support new research and information sharing. There are seven research networks:

  • Digital humanities
  • Immunology
  • Metabolism
  • Public Health
  • Sensors

Patient and Public Involvement Panel at CUH

Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) has its own Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) panel of more than 80 volunteers.

The panel - which is run by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) - provides patient and lay input on research.

The panel can help researchers to:

  • develop research priorities
  • discuss research ideas
  • review documents
  • comment on research proposals

To find out more email Bethany Vincent or visit the PPI page on the R&D section of this website.

NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)

The NIHR Cambridge BRC is based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. It combines research, patient care and drug discovery. It creates an environment that engages patients and the public, trains and nurtures the next generation of researchers, promotes equality and diversity, and encourages all staff working in the NHS to engage in research.

NIHR/Wellcome Trust Cambridge Clinical Research Facility (CRF)

The Cambridge CRF (opens in a new tab) is based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and comprises six research facilities across two buildings with access to Addenbrooke’s hospital.

CRFs are dedicated facilities where specialist clinical research and support staff from universities and NHS Trusts work together on patient-orientated studies.

NMAHPs can collaborate with the CRF for research, and access education and training.

Research by professional group

Health Education England (HEE) 

HEE have created this careers resource for AHPs which identifies eight core areas (including research) for career development, whilst continuing clinical practice. It includes insight from AHPs working within the 8 areas, with voices from across all 14 allied health professions.

RCN Research and Innovation Fortnightly Bulletin

This fortnightly bulletin keeps you posted with the very latest developments in the world of nursing research and innovation.

NMAHP professional bodies support research within their profession and some have dedicated research groups.

Some examples are given below but this does not include all of the professional research groups so please ask yours how they can support you.

Council for Allied Health Professionals Research (CAHPR)

CAHPR's mission is to:

  • develop AHP research
  • strengthen evidence of the professions’ value and impact for enhancing service user and community care
  • enable the professions to speak with one voice on research issues, thereby raising their profile and increasing their influence.

With excellent opportunities for learning, sharing, networking, collaborations and access to advice and support, CAHPR strengthens the professions’ research activities and outputs facilitating the translation of research findings into practice and education.

Cambridge is part of the East Anglia hub.

British Dietetic Association (BDA) Research

The BDA has information about where to look for the dietetic evidence-base, finding the best method to undertake robust service evaluations, securing some funding to give you time to analyse data you have collected, meeting people with similar research interests and getting a research qualification.

Physiotherapy Research Society (PRS)

The PRS promotes research in physiotherapy, so that a firm scientific knowledge base is developed, from which more effective physiotherapy practice may be delivered and patient services enhanced.

They encourage high quality research relevant to physiotherapy practice and education and help foster critical awareness throughout the profession.

The Society aims to disseminate the results of research both within the profession and beyond. Their main activity is hosting a research conference every Spring.

UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation (UKOTRF)

UKOTRF is a division of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. It supports research that will build the evidence-base for occupational therapy and increase research capacity within the profession.

Royal College of Nurses (RCN) Research Society

The RCN Research Society provides research leadership and expertise, supports and meets the needs of the Society's members, and provides a network for sharing experiences, and learning and development opportunities.

Doctoral Midwifery Research Society (DMRS)

The main objective of the DMRS is to provide quality support and guidance to doctoral and post-doctoral midwife and childbirth (or related) researchers regionally, nationally and internationally.

A major commitment of the DMRS is to provide a platform for midwife and other researchers to undertake, present and disseminate research and implement the findings.

Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF)

The FNF focuses on improving health, clinical outcomes and patient experience, through building nursing and midwifery leadership capacity and capability.

The Foundation supports research scholarships, bespoke leadership programmes and travel scholarships.


There are funding opportunities for nurse, midwife and allied health professional (NMAHP) research and clinical academic careers. Some are multidisciplinary research funding opportunities and some are targeted by profession.

We have included some NMAHP funding opportunities below but encourage you to explore opportunities by clinical speciality (for example cancer, liver disease, arthritis) and by professional group (for example opportunities for nurses, occupational therapists or speech and language therapists).

The Association of Medical Research Charities (opens in a new tab) has a member directory where you can search for grants by research area, grant type, charity name etc.

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT)

ACT (opens in a new tab) funds research projects and research fellowships for individuals. The Research Advisory Committee (RAC) welcomes applications for research projects up to £25,000.

The committee meets four times a year and is chaired by Professor John Bradley. More information can be found on Connect or by emailing Claire Teager.

ACT and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) have joined forces to provide funding for non-medical healthcare professionals to gain experience and conduct preliminary research, to allow them to prepare a strong application for PhD fellowships.

For more details email Professor Christi Deaton or visit the Primary Care Unit webpage (opens in a new tab) for more information about past fellows and upcoming calls.

Health Education England (HEE)/ National Health Institute for Research (NIHR) Integrated clinical academic programme for non-medical health professionals

The HEE and NIHR's Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme (opens in a new tab) provides personal research training awards for healthcare professionals (excluding doctors and dentists) who wish to develop careers that combine clinical research and research leadership with continued clinical practice and clinical development.

Five levels of award are available, each requiring the support of clinical and academic host organisations, which together form a career pathway for aspiring and developing non-medical clinical academics:

  • Internships
  • Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship
  • Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship
  • Clinical Lectureship
  • Senior Clinical Lectureship

Gillian Gatiss, Liver Transplant Dietitian at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, has been successful at securing an HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship. Read her story here (opens in a new tab).

HEE and NIHR Clinical Scholars Bronze and Silver Awards

These awards are part of the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Training Programme for non-medical healthcare professionals and available to NMAHPs in the East of England.

  • The Bronze award (opens in a new tab) is suitable for registered NHS staff without postgraduate qualifications or formal training in research, and supports clinicians to go on to apply for a research Master’s programme or equivalent.
  • The Silver award (opens in a new tab) is suitable for registered NHS staff with Masters or equivalent postgraduate qualification who are looking to further develop a clinical academic career.

National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) fellowship programme

The NIHR also offers an annual fellowship programme (opens in a new tab) for health care professionals including, nurses, midwives, allied healthcare professionals and doctors.

Four levels of NIHR Fellowship awards are available:

  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
  • Doctoral Fellowship
  • Advanced Fellowship
  • Development and Skills Enhancement Award

Dunhill Medical Trust

The Dunhill Medical Trust offer Research Training Fellowships, intended to provide training opportunities for academics, clinicians and allied health professionals who wish to pursue a research career in ageing, rehabilitation or palliative care.

They advertise 4 fellowships annually (opens in a new tab), usually in the autumn.

Peter Hartley, Physiotherapy Team Lead in the Department of Medicine for the Elderly at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, has been granted a research training fellowship at PhD level. Read Peter’s story here (opens in a new tab).

Other professional training fellowships

Various charities and groups offer professional training fellowships, including:

Physiotherapy research foundation awards

These research awards (opens in a new tab) are open to applications from both novice and experienced researchers who are qualified members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Previous awards have included grants of up to £150,000 for experienced researchers and grants of up to £25,000 for novice researchers.

The UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation (UKOTRF) research grants

UKOTRF (opens in a new tab) invites research proposals to be submitted on an annual basis.. There are two main grant categories:

  • Research Priority Grant - to support a major research project that clearly addresses an identified professional research priority area
  • Research Career Development Grant - to support doctoral studies or post-doctoral activity undertaken within five years of completing a PhD or similar for occupational therapists who intend to pursue a research career pathway

RCN Foundation grants and bursaries

The RCN Foundation (opens in a new tab) have various scholarships, bursaries and grants, which nurses can apply for.