Professor Elizabeth Ward1,2, Dr Caitlin Brandenburg1
1Centre for Functioning and Health Research, Metro South Health, Queensland Health , Brisbane, Australia, 2School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Introduction: Within Australian health services, growing numbers of clinicians are being encouraged to pursue research as part of their clinical roles. However, while the benefits of having embedded clinician-researchers in Allied Health (AH) services have been well-established, the career needs of those engaged in clinical research is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to examine the perspectives of the career pathway for AH clinicians engaged in research within health.
Methods: A qualitative descriptive study was conducted. Fifty-seven AH clinician-researchers across Australia, including those who did and did not have research as a formal component of their current role, participated in semi-structured interviews. Purposive sampling was used to ensure selection of varied locations, professions and role types. Results were analysed using thematic analysis. Trustworthiness was established using regular peer debriefing during theme development, and respondent validation of final themes.
Results: Key themes were that 1) Clinician-researchers in healthcare settings want to stay in these roles; 2) Opportunities for clinical research positions are limited, but this is improving; 3) There is a lack of clear pathway for clinician-researcher careers; 4) Clinician-researchers are not always incentivized or valued by health services; and 5) Clinician-researcher careers are difficult to maintain and many divert to either universities or clinical practice only.
Conclusion: This study outlines a number of weaknesses with the current career structure and opportunities for clinician-researchers in health services, potentially leading to a loss of this valuable skillset. Key recommendations to improve careers for allied health clinician-researchers will be discussed.
Acknowledgements: This study received partial funding from The Allied Health Professions Office of Queensland. We’d like to acknowledge Adele Colman, Ciara Spillane and Sharmin Kalantari for assistance with transcription and analysis.
Dr Brandenburg is a Principal Project Officer at the Centre for Functioning and Health Research in Metro South Hospital and Health Service in Queensland, a research centre which focuses on building research capacity and capability within the Allied health Workforce. She has worked across different health settings and has an interest in building research and EBP capacity in health professionals.