Developing the Role of the Clinical Academic Nurse, Midwife and Allied Health Professional in Healthcare Organisations
Clinical academics provide key contributions to positive outcomes in the delivery of high-quality health and social care; however, building capacity and capability for these roles for Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals (NMAHPs) within contemporary healthcare settings is often complex and challenging. Accessing funding and training, such as that provided by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), can remain beyond the reach of NMAHPs at point-of-care delivery because of limited structural empowerment, practical support and a culture inhibiting the growth of clinical academic careers. This article will discuss strategic developments and partnerships from two organisations, both with a positive track record of supporting clinical academic career development for NMAHPs. We aim to provide practical and applicable examples showing how NMAHPs have been supported from foundational to post-doctoral level and outline these under three key headings: strategic commitment; structures to engage, enthuse and empower clinical academic careers; and realising the benefits for staff and patient experience. We contend that a wide-ranging level of support is required to encourage aspiring clinical academics to navigate this complex journey, often where the development of personal confidence, and access to early career models combining clinical and research activity are pivotal. We conclude that when crafted and created effectively with sustainable commitment by organisations, NMAHP clinical academics provide an innovative workforce solution with the knowledge and skills essential for a contemporary NHS healthcare system.
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