Clinical Academic Doctorates (CAD) are a programme of study usually undertaken full time over four years. This enables midwives to remain in clinical practice (40% of their time) while studying for a doctorate (60% of their time). Studying this way means that midwives do not have to leave clinical practice for three years and worry about losing their clinical skills. It also has the advantage for midwives not having to study part-time on top of a busy clinical role.

The university works collaboratively with the NHS Trust to develop the research ideas, which is considered a ‘bottom up’ approach to research since it is generated and rooted in practice.  In this way, the focus of the topic meets clinical priorities and has a direct impact on women, maternity services and staff. Initially the idea was adopted by Portsmouth NHS Foundation Trust and has now expanded to five other NHS Trusts across Wessex and includes a variety of healthcare professions such as nursing and physiotherapy. Nationally it is recognised as an example of excellent practice (AUKUH Clinical Academic Roles Development Group).

Three of our doctoral students Vanessa Bartholomew, Rebecca Cousins and Dominique Mylod are at different stages of their doctoral journey and will soon feature in the Wessex CRN’s Vision magazine, describing why their research matters to mothers and babies, and the value of a clinical academic programme. Vanessa and Dominique’s stories feature in this month’s contribution to WHO Year of the Midwife and Nurse 2020. Another contributor, Daisy Wiggins, shares her CAD journey from start to finish. Daisy is the youngest midwife in the UK to receive her PhD.  Finally, Dana Colbourne writes about her experience of undertaking a CAD and shares with the reader the many challenges and rewards that she has encountered so far.