Some of the nation’s top nursing and midwifery clinician-scientists have shared their experiences to encourage more people to pursue this unique career path.

Clinician-scientists – also known as clinician-researchers or clinician-academics – combine research with clinical practice. Working across both fields allows nurses and midwives to apply lessons learned from research to patient care, and vice-versa, ultimately improving healthcare.

AAHMS and the Australasian Nursing and Midwifery Clinical Trials Network co-hosted the inaugural online event in October 2021. You can see a recording of the discussion in our video library, or find more information about upcoming Life as a Clinician-Scientist events on our events page.

 

Dr Zoe Bradfield is a Midwifery Research Fellow at King Edward Memorial Hospital and Senior Lecturer at Curtain University.

She said that knowing academic and scientific work contributed to better health outcomes was a motivator.

“Whenever we go to research something, we have to believe that it will make things better,” she said.

Dr Bradfield said that clinician-scientist roles needed to be balanced.

“We know that adding research on top of clinical load, rather than embedding it, sees research drop, due to time constraints.”

Professor Jeroen Hendriks is an AAHMS Associate Member and inaugural Leo J Mahar Cardiovascular Nursing Chair at the Caring Futures Institute at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University and the Department of Cardiology, Royal Adelaide Hospital.

He said life as a clinician-scientist is exciting and had challenges and opportunities: work burden can be high and distribution of time between clinic and university may be difficult at times. However, combining clinical and academic work is a dynamic and diverse process which gives the best of both worlds.

“It’s just fantastic to have the opportunity to immediately test hypotheses in practice,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity to focus on evidence-based practice, but also an opportunity to pursue research.”

Keera Laccos-Barrett, Lecturer at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, encouraged young clinician-scientists to reflect on their goals.

“It’s always important to go back and remind yourself of why you’re here,” she said.

“I come from my family, my community, the people that helped grow me. Why am I here? Because I want a better future for my family, for my children.”

“My question to you is where did you come from, and why are you here?”

Dr Evan Alexandrou is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University.

He said that being a clinician-scientist is like being a “servant to two masters”.

“Sometimes they both have priorities, and you feel like you’re being pulled from one side to another,” he said.

“It can be a challenge. You do have to step back and think there’s only so many hours in a day. Think about how you can plan you day, plan your week, to get through that workload.”