Why nursing has not embraced the clinician–scientist role

Nursing Philosophy 10 (4):287-296 (2009)
Reasons for the limited uptake of the clinician–scientist role within nursing are examined, specifically: the lack of consensus about the nature of nursing science; the varying approaches to epistemology; and the influence of post-modern thought on knowledge development in nursing. It is suggested that under-development of this role may be remedied by achieving agreement that science is a necessary, worthy pursuit for nursing, and that rigorous science conducted from a clinical perspective serves nursing well. Straddling practice and research is a powerful strategy for ensuring relevant research while forging strong links with practice. The clinician–scientist role, typically requiring a 75:25 ratio between research and clinical activities, is well established in medicine. Nursing, however, has been slow to institute the role; it is rare within North America, Australia, and western European countries, and almost non-existent outside those areas. Beyond structural obstacles, philosophical issues may explain nursing's reluctance to implement the role. Following a survey of clinician–scientist roles throughout the world, the nature of nursing science and epistemology, and the influence of post-modern thought on nursing attitudes to research are examined with respect to their influence on this role. The nurse clinician–scientist role holds promise for making strides in clinically relevant research, and for accelerating the knowledge cycle from clinical problem to research question to change in clinical practice.
Keywords nurse researcher  clinician–scientist  epistemology  post‐modernism  nursing science
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DOI 10.1111/j.1466-769X.2009.00416.x
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