Guidance for employers on how to develop clinical academic roles for nurses and midwives has been launched by a group of hospitals to help address the “woefully low” numbers of staff currently working in these positions.
The Association of UK University Hospitals said an estimated 0.1% of the nursing, midwifery and allied health professional workforce was employed as clinical academics – defined as “clinically active health researchers”.
It said this was a “woefully low” proportion and that the AUKUH was “determined that significantly more people in [this] workforce will be working in clinical academic roles by 2030”.
”AUKUH is determined that significantly more people in [nursing, midwifery and AHP roles] will be working in clinical academic roles by 2030”
Association of UK Hospitals
The organisation, which has 40 members across the UK, noted the important contribution that clinical academics make to improving patient care.
“There is increasing evidence that research-active healthcare provider organisations provide better quality care, increased treatment options and monitoring as well as improved clinical outcomes,” it said in its guidance launched today called Transforming healthcare through clinical academic roles in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions.
The guideline includes practical information, case studies and templates used by organisations who employ clinical academics.
It points to evidence showing the benefits from employing people in these roles and also offersadvice about how to overcome challenges and access funding.
It notes that setting up clinical academic roles – often joint posts - will involve multiple partners including both healthcare organisations and universities, which could involve separate employment contracts.
”Clinical academics generate evidence and improve practice. Without them our practice would have remained the stuff of myth and old wives’ tales.”
The guide also provides tips about how to identify “high fliers” within organisations – such as approaching those who are already undertaking postgraduate training – for future roles as well exposing students to clinical academics during placements.
In the foreword to the guidance, David Foster, former head of the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions policy unit at the Department of Health, said: “Clinical academics generate evidence and improve practice. Without them our practice would have remained the stuff of myth and old wives’ tales.
“Their leadership role combines the creation of research and application of evidence to improve outcomes and inspire others to achieve greater excellence.”
“This resource assists healthcare provider organisations in developing, supporting and sustaining research-focused clinical academic roles in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions,” he added.
The Royal College of Midwives welcomed the guidance and said clinical academics served as a “crucial connection” between the NHS and universities.
RCM head of education and learning Carmel Lloyd said: “Clinical academic roles within midwifery are vital in improving the profession and putting invaluable clinical research into practice.
“This new guide will hopefully enable NHS organisations to provide better support and resources not only for midwifery academics, but for all allied health professionals engaged in similar research, which will ultimately enable midwives to deliver even better care to women, babies and their families.”