Then we had Deborah Backus presented The Foundation for Our Future: Building a Research Culture to Support the Clinician Scientist.
Alright folks, we’re coming for a landing on the research topic, but before we go, this one is just for you: the clinician scientist. Thorne in American Psychology in 1947 “encouraged clinicians to employ ‘experimental methods to the analysis of case reports and large scale analyses to the experience of the whole clinic over a period of years. Thus the clinician will come to regard each case as part of a larger sample.'” This is what I’ve mentioned in several previous posts. Each and every clinician is a researcher. We build our clinical decision making skills by gathering data on each of our patients and assessing our own effectiveness with each patient assessment. Over time, that shapes our clinical decicion making skills as we develop an instinct for what works and what doesn’t. That makes us– the clinicians– the best suited to perform clinically applicable research. We do it EVERYDAY.
However, we have lots of other concerns as well. There are very few opportunities for us to develop research skills. Traditional research methods are complex and confusing; don’t even mention actually running the analytics. Forget it! We clinicians have productivity quotas to meet. These are our patients, so we may run into ethical concerns. There isn’t a clear link between involvement in research and professional advancement. Money shouldn’t be an issue once you know who to ask. The NIH in 2009 gave away $21 million dollars to PTs in rehab research. That doesn’t include any other discipline. The Foundation for PT gave out $10 million in 2010. So why should we bother? By participating in research we can advance clinical care, improve our patients’ outcomes and contribute to the evidence base of therapy. I think those are fairly common goals of any clinician scientist.
So how do we get to where the clinician scientist is “a thing”? We need to create a research culture to support them! We need to see value in grant writing skills, mentorship, research as part of productivity and reward clinician scientists accordingly. Clinician scientists need to be engaged in and contribute to determining profession wide research agendas, allow us to define important research questions and recruit us for clinical trials. Provide more and better quality courses/training programs that would educate us on how to go about making our instincts into legitimate research questions and how to go about evaluating those questions. We need to improve translation of research from the lab into the clinic in less than the 17 years it currently takes to become accepted and utilized regularly.
This would benefit our facilities too. A clinician scientist is a leader who thinks beyond individual patients and into populations, able to be a mentor and facilitates translation of research into the clinic. These kinds of folk attract quality clinicians, raising clinical practice standards and cost effectiveness. They increase patients’ access to innovative treatment options improving the reputation of the facility as a community leader in rehabilitation.
This is your challenge: how are you going to become of those clinician scientists? By exhibiting those qualities. Then once the your facility and/or system recognizes how valuable you are, you can initiate systemic change from within, demanding time and ability to participate in research. Dig in, get dirty!