Working arrangements and employment circumstances were often talked about by the research nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (NMAHPs)* we spoke to. Comparisons were frequently drawn between their experiences in clinical non-research jobs* compared to research jobs. Covered in more detail in their own sections, the main topics discussed were:
- employment contracts and working hours; and
- office spaces and rooms/facilities for seeing participants.
Their working arrangements depended on many factors such as the employing organisation, funding arrangements for studies and whether they also had clinical non-research jobs/splits. The main employers were: Trusts/hospitals, research networks (including the Clinical Research Network/CRN), universities, hospices, and commercial organisations. The relationship between employing organisation and funding allocation was not always clear-cut to research staff, and was further complicated by the fact that many worked on a mix of studies with different funding origins. Some people had two or more contracts for research jobs with different employers and this was potentially in addition to separate clinical non-research jobs (including bank shifts). For example, Jed was employed by both a Mental Health Trust and a hospice, whilst Barbara was employed by a university in one job and a commercial organisation in another.
There were advantages and disadvantages to different employers and funding arrangements, including impact on pensions, mandatory training, and access to libraries/journals. Sandra felt the Clinical Research Network was ‘one of the best organisations to work for ‘cos I just get loads of opportunity [for research training]’. In terms of those employed by (or with a dual contract that included) a university, Abi liked being able to go to seminars with invited speakers and Ginny felt it came with ‘kudos’. In order to carry out their research in healthcare settings, those employed by universities were required to have an honorary contract/a letter of access with the Trusts they would work within. Another issue around the employing organisation was whether or not research staff could be officially asked to cease or reduce research activity to ease clinical staff shortages (especially in wintertime) and whether they were given time off (and their jobs back-filled) in order to undertake internships or academic qualifications involving research.
*The people interviewed for this website were mostly research NMAHPs (i.e. those employed in a research delivery role). However, we also interviewed some NMAHP researchers (i.e. those leading research as independent researchers). The latter group included people who were undertaking or had completed academic research qualifications, such as PhDs, and many had previously been in (or continued to also be in) research delivery roles. For more information about the distinctions between these roles and the sample of NMAHPs interviewed for this project, please see the Introduction section.
*Many research NMAHPs and NMAHP researchers felt strongly that they continued to be clinical within their research roles. As such, the wording of ‘research’ NMAHPs/staff and ‘clinical’ NMAHPs/staff can be problematic for implying that research is not also clinical activity. Where the wording ‘clinical staff’ is used on the website, we mean for this refer to non-research clinical staff (i.e. those who are not currently employed to carry out research or enrolled to pursue research through an academic qualification).