Steve Hockey, Director, Ccentric
With rapid advancements in medical research and technology, many of the once life-threatening diseases and conditions we know of have also become just a memory. However, as the world continues to change at unprecedented speeds, it has inadvertently led to the evolution of viruses and the emergence of new viral diseases.
Clearly, work in the field of medical research is never-ending. With so many variables present, a single step in the wrong direction has the potential to inject a massive stumbling block on the road towards developing a much needed cure.
In order to minimise the roadblocks that prevent medical researchers from moving forth, and ensure the effective delivery of the resulting insights, collaboration between research-focused academia and healthcare service providers is key. In addition to bridging the gap, such partnerships also help ensure health education is tied to real-world needs.
This is where the Clinical Chair comes in. Jointly funded by a university and a local health services provider, the prestigious role of is by and large only filled by very experienced professionals.
Collaboration – What’s in it for participating bodies?
For educational institutions, they get the opportunity to pick useful research subject areas that are applicable to real-world scenarios. Not only does this widen their scope of expertise, it also raises the university’s profile to attract the best students and talent.
On the flipside, the benefits to health services providers are that they gain access to the latest research on topics that are relevant to their needs and importantly, have the opportunity to be pioneers of new techniques and applications. What’s more, they also get an experienced ‘teacher’ who can offer day-to-day training and development for staff.
What’s stopping the rise of Clinical Chairs?
High staff turnover, unsatisfactory performance, unrealistic expectations on both sides, as well as dissatisfaction with the role – these are just some of the main issues that often spring up amongst candidates, inhibiting the true value of the role.
A core challenge for both employers and candidates is the lack of a coherent model to determine what exactly the role covers. It’s at times already tough having to report in to one management team, but Clinical Chairs have two bosses to manage! More often than not, both teams will inevitably have different agendas, goals and expectations.
What then happens as a result is the issue of time management on the candidates’ end. Take for example: As with any part time role, when the person is spending time with their ‘other’ employer, there is an assumption that they are either not working or have time on their hands to do more.
Five-step rule to building a successful Clinical Chair role
There are multiple elements that contribute to building successful collaborative partnerships between academic circles and the healthcare services sector.
Attraction: Before the appointment
- Joint interviews – The appointment needs to be a joint decision, which means both parties must be present at every stage of the recruitment process. If only one party is committed, it won’t work.
- Joint courtship – Candidates need to be wooed, wined and dined by both parties to make them feel wanted. Often, these are experienced professionals in similar roles elsewhere, so they need to have good reason to move.
- Setting of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – Job specifications and KPIs need to be decided upfront and included as part of the recruitment process. Both parties should be sure of their own set of criteria and be satisfied that the candidate fulfils their half of the list.
Retention: After the appointment
- In-depth induction programs – These include meeting key people, having their systems set up, secretarial support and a social welcome across both the university and the health body, amongst others. This ensures that staff members know who they are and what their role is.
- Joint review sessions – Conduct regular and open review sessions to make sure that all issues are being ironed out, with at least one of these being a joint session with both bosses.
Ultimately, the key to the success of the Clinical Chair role lies in ensuring that the three-way relationship is built on principles of openness, reciprocity, trust, and flexible resource allocation.