In 2022, our first cohort of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals commenced their MacHSR Future Leaders Fellowship journey and are now using health services research to explore evidence-based solutions to practical healthcare problems.

Balancing clinical and research work

Brit Gordon, Chief Allied Health Officer and MacHSR Lead at Austin Health, says the Fellowship is highly beneficial in providing clinicians with time to devote to their research while still working clinically.

“We really need to encourage HSR because organisations that are active in research provide safer, more effective clinical care.

“And when the research is done in the clinical environment, there’s a quicker translation of evidence into clinical practice.”

For Patrick Hilley, MacHSR Fellow and Clinical Pharmacist at Austin Health, having access to a wealth of researchers and clinicians with “vast experience in HSR has been amazing”.

“Regular cohort meetings allow all Fellows to discuss challenges and problems they have encountered – enabling the collective to generate workable solutions with the guidance of the tutors,” says Mr Hilley.

Associate Professor Antony Tobin, Chief Medical Officer and MacHSR Lead at St Vincent’s Hospital, notes in general that research opportunities for front-line clinicians are now “fewer and farther between”.

“MacHSR has been a real advantage for us because it opens broader opportunities for practicing clinicians who may not have considered research in the past,” he says.

Increasing problem-solving skills

Associate Professor Tobin adds the Fellowship is also bringing better problem-solving skills to the frontline.

“It’s giving clinicians the skills and confidence to ask the right question and helping them find the resources needed to investigate or solve those questions,” he says.

“By having those people in frontline, they’ll act as mentors to others.”

Jen Corda, MacHSR Fellow and Senior Respiratory Physiotherapist, Royal Children’s Hospital, says she’s already learnt a lot about HSR.

“It has opened my eyes to a world of potential improvements, both locally within the Royal Children’s Hospital and on a wider health system perspective,” she says.

“Through the fellowship, I have been able to create an implementation and evaluation plan seeded in theory and evidence I learnt during the fellowship – both from shared experience of experts and through the health service research elective.”

Addressing key issues

Ms Gordon says HSR has an opportunity to address some of the current key health care problems.

“Post COVID, demands on the health sector are continuing to increase, and our current capacity doesn’t necessarily match the demand,” she says.

“More and more high-acuity patients are being admitted to The Austin, so we have some real challenges ahead in how we deliver care and what the service models need to look like.”

“We need to focus some of our health services research on our models of care and how we can improve everyone’s capacity and capability, so our patients receive optimal care.”

It’s a sentiment that is shared by Associate Professor Tobin.

“The world has changed, and some of the things we accepted in the past may no longer be fit for purpose,” he says.

“To ensure quality and safety in hospital care, we need people looking at critical systems and processes because the way staff are being trained and working is now different.”

2023 intake now open

If you’re an established frontline clinician, find out more about the MacHSR Future Leaders Fellowship program and apply before the deadline of March 20 at 9am.

You can also find out more about the HSR resources provided by MACH in our Implementation Science Resource Directory.