Increasingly, our profession is being expected to provide robust research evidence for the diagnostics procedures and treatment interventions that are provided to patients, and therefore this equates to a need to explain the basis for our practice to patients, colleagues, funders etc. Physiotherapy research is a constantly developing and has grown substantially over recent years (a quiet revolution), but the pathways that have been established to allow physiotherapists (and other AHPs) to conduct clinical-academic careers are still at an early stage compared to our medical colleagues. Despite the fledgling nature of the physiotherapy research culture within the NHS and other settings, there is some fantastic research being conducted by physiotherapists that we would like to highlight.
Clinical-academic careers for physiotherapists can be challenging from those initial steps pre-PhD through to Professor positions. While there have been physiotherapists that have been actively involved in research for decades, much of this activity has relied on self-motivation and research within academic roles alone. Recent developments by the NIHR have made steps to allow physiotherapists to undertake clinical-academic style careers, with research training, mentorship and professional development undertaken via funding provided. However, the complexities and intermittent nature of the funding provided by the NIHR (as well as other funders) can be extremely challenging for physiotherapists to undertake. For example, the short-term nature of research contracts, lack of support following periods of funding (i.e., post PhD, post post-doc fellowship), applying for funding nationally rather than locally, lack of research roles within the NHS for those with PhDs, not combining clinical and academic work until later in the career etc. We would like to discuss the difficulties with current systems and enquire about suggestions for solutions, or new pathways that could be implemented.
Immense progress has been made in clinical-academic careers and pathways within a relatively short period of time, and as such challenges remain. The NIHR and physiotherapists have exposed the potential and have generated substantial levels of interest in early career professionals, therefore we would like to help them realise their potential with benefit to both the clinical and academic sectors.
This tweetchat via physiotalk will provide an opportunity to discuss physiotherapy research and the careers that are available, as well as challenges and solutions that can be implemented for clinical-academics. Outcomes of the chat will be shared throughout the Physiotherapy Research Society membership and forwarded to the local NIHR and CAHPR networks around the UK.
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