Australian academic primary health-care careers: a scoping survey
Barton, Christopher Allan
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This study was undertaken to provide a snapshot of the academic primary health-care workforce in Australia and to provide some insight into research capacity in academic primary health care following changes to funding for this sector. A convenience sample of individuals self-identifying as working within academic primary health care (n = 405) completed an anonymous online survey. Respondents were identified from several academic primary health-care mailing lists. The survey explored workforce demographics, clarity of career pathways, career trajectories and enablers/barriers to ‘getting in’ and ‘getting on’. A mix of early career (41%), mid-career (25%) and senior academics (35%) responded. Early career academics tended to be female and younger than mid-career and senior academics, who tended to be male and working in ‘balanced’ (teaching and research) roles and listing medicine as their disciplinary background. Almost three-quarters (74%) indicated career pathways were either ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat unclear’, irrespective of gender and disciplinary backgrounds. Just over half (51%) had a permanent position. Males were more likely to have permanent positions, as were those with a medical background. Less than half (43%) reported having a mentor, and of the 57% without a mentor, more than two-thirds (69%) would like one. These results suggest a lack of clarity in career paths, uncertainty in employment and a large number of temporary (contract) or casual positions represent barriers to sustainable careers in academic primary health care, especially for women who are from non-medicine backgrounds. Professional development or a mentoring program for primary health-care academics was desired and may address some of the issues identified by survey respondents.