Starting at the beginning – developing clinical academic

Authors: Board, M. and Hundley, V.

Start date: 5 May 2018

Developing clinical academic roles for nurses and midwives has been highlighted as a key priority1 Creating practice based evidence that will influence care delivery will impact positively on patient outcomes. Clinical academic roles embrace lifelong learning and academic leadership in health care settings. This aim of the paper is to share examples from an HEI in the UK of how they are developing clinical academic roles. The midwifery clinical academic doctorate was established in 20132 and the approach adopted by nursing more recently. The paper will discuss the opportunities and challenges of pursuing clinical academic roles in nursing and the value of working in close collaboration with practice colleagues.

Preparing clinical academics starts in the undergraduate programme and includes students writing literature reviews and developing these for publication, also some students undertake placements with hospital based research teams.

After graduation students have the opportunity to apply for the clinical academic PhD studentships. All research projects for the clinical doctorate are developed in close collaboration with practice colleagues. The clinical doctorate research fellows spend two days a week in clinical practice and three days conducting research. They receive a stipend, paid in part by the practice partner and part by the university. This model enables students to maintain their clinical practice whilst undertaking their research. The model is attractive to those who are newly qualified and want to undertake their preceptorship whilst developing their research skills. Also for registered staff who are keen to work towards a PhD, whilst they remain working in practice. Examples from students who are either in the 1st or 2nd year of their nursing clinical doctorate will be shared. The challenges and opportunities of being a student with extensive clinical experience and a newly registered student will be highlighted. The practice related research projects include exploring frailty and older people in a day hospital setting and do not resuscitate decision making in an acute setting.

Clinical academic roles have significant implications for the leadership of nursing in the clinical setting and whilst it is not without its challenges, the opportunity for developing research about patient care is worth investing in.

References 1.Department of Health (2012) Developing the Role of the Clinical Academic Researcher in the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/developing-the-role-of-the-clinical-academic-researcher-in-the-nursing-midwifery-and-allied-health-professions 2. Way S. et al (2016) Dr Know. RCM Midwives, 19: 66-67.

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