Background: Twelve clinician-scientists were employed in a Dutch academic network, which is a collaboration between fifteen nursing-homes and an academic medical research institute. The clinician-scientists were tasked with linking research and clinical practice by catalysing both care-informed research and evidence-informed implementation initiatives. The clinician-scientists and their manager experienced difficulties in clearly defining the knowledge broker role of the clinician-scientists, a difficulty also reported in literature. They found no tools and methods suitable for make their knowledge broker role visible. Clarifying role expectations and accountability for funding these knowledge broker positions was difficult. They aimed to design a theory-informed performance appraisal tool that allowed clinician-scientists to explicate and develop their knowledge broker role in collaboration with management.
Methods: A participatory design research was conducted over a 21 month period with a design group consisting of an external independent researcher, clinician-scientists and their managers from within the academic network.
Results: A tool (the SP-tool) was developed in MS Excel. This allowed clinician-scientists to log their knowledge broker activities as distinct from their clinical work and research related activities. The tool contributed to their ability to make their knowledge broker role visible to themselves and their stakeholders. The theoretic contribution of the design research is a conceptual model of professionalisation of the clinician scientists knowledge broker role. This model presents the relationship between work visibility and the clarification of functions of the clinician-scientist’s knowledge broker role. In the professionalisation of knowledge-intensive work, visibility contributes to the definition of CS broker functions, which is an element necessary for the professionalisation of an occupation.
Conclusions: The CSs knowledge broker role is a knowledge-intensive role and work-tasks associated with this role are not automatically visible. The SP-tool contributes to creating work visibility of the clinician-scientists’ knowledge broker role. This in turn could contribute to the professionalisation of this role, which is not well described in literature at the day-to-day professional level.