Out Of Programme for Research (OOPR)

Taking time out of programme to complete a period of research is becoming more popular with trainees. However, not everybody enjoys research and so you should only take time out of programme if you really want to, and have a genuine interest. This shouldn’t just be seen as a CV-building exercise. You’re committing your time to it, prolonging your training, and therefore need to make it a success.

Project, Supervision and Location

Ensure you pick the right project! This should be based on a research topic you enjoy, which is important as this will help ensure you complete the project in the OOPR time. You may have had previous experience and have a research interest you’d like to pursue or continue. It may be you’ve had no previous research and need some inspiration to choose a topic!

Speak with potential supervisors – there are a number of consultants in all units within the region who have an interest in academia and many have experience of mentoring trainees through higher research degrees. Their subject expertise is wide and varying. It may be that you already have contacts elsewhere in the country or abroad who could supervise your project. Discuss your interest with the TPD who may be able to offer support and advice. Speak with other trainees who have previously undertaken an OOPR period for their advice and thoughts. Ask around and look at the websites of potential supervisors.

Research projects may involve large datasets (such as National Joint Registry database projects), based in a research laboratory such as in a University, clinically-based in a hospital, at a trials unit such as in York, or in a mix of settings. This may be within the region, nationally, or even internationally.

Funding

Funded projects

These posts are rare! Some supervisors have an organised project with funding in place, and just need a trainee to lead and deliver the project. This is a good opportunity to complete a project, particularly if you’ve had no previous research experience.

Funded posts

There are many posts that offer part-time clinical activity and part-time research activity. These offer the ability to pursue research without losing track of your clinical skills. They often require on – call type working but may be unbanded. They require focus to make sure enough time is allowed for the research, which has to be the primary aim of the OOPR.

Unfunded posts

These are more common. You have found a supervisor and have a research proposal, but need somebody to pay for it! There are a number of sources available including, but not limited to:

National Institute for Health Research

These are prestigious awards but are very competitive. Similarly, the Wellcome Trust offers funding.

Royal College of Surgeons of England

A number of awards and fellowships are offered, with various closing dates throughout the year. Some are topic specific, e.g. National Joint Registry Fellowship, whereas others are more general, e.g. the One Year Fellowship. Regularly check the website for details.

Industry

If your research involves a clinical product then the manufacturer may be a source of funding to consider. Ensure to consider and potential conflicts of interest this may have when presenting and publishing your research.

Orthopaedic research charities

…such as Orthopaedic Research UK, National Osteoporosis Society, Arthritis Research UK etc.

Subspecialty society funding

Some societies are able to offer some research funding.

Length of time

A PhD is generally completed in three years, whereas an MD (or DM) is completed in two. You may not need to come out of the programme for that long. Either is acceptable in most academic circles but if you are definitely planning to be a Professor of Orthopaedics then a PhD may be preferable. Some universities let you convert to a PhD part way through an MD, others do not.

How to do it!

  1. Start at least a year in advance of your OOPR period to ensure your project, supervisor and funding are in place.
  2. A MINIMUM of 6 months notice of your wish to complete an OOPR period is required to be given to the deanery via the speciality administrator.
  3. Discuss with your educational supervisor and TPD to ensure you have their support to leave the programme.
  4. Complete and submit the Deanery OOP form (Appendix 1 here). This needs to be signed off by the TPD. Once submitted, the form is reviewed by the speciality administrator. and if all information is correct, this is forwarded to the Head of School for approval. Even with TPD approval, their support is not guaranteed. High-quality research is favoured so make a strong application.
  5. Along with the Deanery OOP form, you also need to submit a letter confirming funding arrangements and that your salary is being paid. This has to come from the organisation paying your salary. This needs to specifically state your name, what the amount is, and how long they are employing you for, with the actual dates.
  6. Inform the JCST of your intention to take time OOP. Decide if you want any of your OOPR time to count towards your overall training time. See the JCST site for more information on OOPR allowances.
    1. f you don’t want any time to count, then you just need to forward the completed Deanery OOP form along with a copy of your CV to the JCST (ortho@jcst.org). They can then extend your CCT date appropriately.
    2. If you do want to count some of your research time towards your overall training time, you need SAC and GMC approval, in addition to the local Deanery form. The SAC requirements are here. GMC guidance is here.

A summary of the OOPR procedure is shown below in the flowchart taken from the deanery OOP Policy.

The OOP process from application to final approval
The OOP process from application to final approval

Potential University Contacts

Mr Mike Reed
Prof. David Deehan
Mr Ajay Malviya
Prof. Amar Rangan
Mr Kenny Rankin
Mr Paul Baker
Mr Will Eardley

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