Research Training in the Healthcare Professions

Gerry McKenna

Professor McKenna was Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Ulster (1999–2006)

This report summarises the work and recommendations of the UK Council for Graduate Education’s Working Group on Research Training in the Healthcare Professions, which was established in 2001. The report was published in 2003

The last two decades have seen unprecedented changes in UK higher education, one of which has been the rapid integration and development of departments of nursing and allied health professions within higher education institutions.

This report offers recommendations for research training for postgraduate research students in the nursing and allied health professions. The Working Group was chaired by Professor Gerry McKenna, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Ulster; other group members were: 

  • Professor Annie Anderson, University of Dundee; 
  • Professor Cliff Bailey, NHS R&D Office; 
  • Professor David Baxter, University of Ulster, and Convenor for the UK Council for Graduation Education; 
  • Ms Tracy Bury, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and World Confederation for Physical Therapy; 
  • Dr Mike Davies, Medical Research Council; 
  • Professor Pam Enderby, University of Sheffield; 
  • Dr Irene Ilott, College of Occupational Therapy; 
  • Professor Alison Kitson, RCN Institute; 
  • Professor Jackie Oldham, University of Manchester; 
  • Professor Julius Sim, Keele University; 
  • Dr Wesley Vernon, Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists; 
  • Professor Pat Williams, Anglia Polytechnic University and University of East Anglia.
At the current time, there are in the UK no doctoral-level courses offering entry to the healthcare professions (at least as these were defined by the Working Group). In the main, the pattern has been that members of the nursing and allied health professions undertake PhDs as a research training some years after their first qualification, primarily to provide career advancement, and typically within the higher education sector.