Structural exclusion of clinicians from the Academy

It’s sometimes said that clinicians live in an ivory tower where we don’t engage with the ‘real world’ and certainly not with the Academy. Hopefully the diversity of clinicians now practicing, as well as strenuous efforts to engage more widely with communities are [slowly] putting paid to the first concern, but there are some real points to consider about the Academy, two of which I’d like to address here.

I’m on a great many lists and groups which consist pretty much solely of academics, or academics who are therapists one evening a week or so. This is excellent as it allows me to access a great deal of knowledge and expertise, however, I do often feel structurally excluded from many groups, events, seminars, conferences and the like. The reason for this is that many (especially more senior) academics are funded to attend these sorts of events, whereas clinicians are generally not and so must pay themselves if they wish to attend. Senior consultants may be able to afford a hundred pounds a day (but may baulk at being required to), however those of us in more middle or junior roles simply cannot afford to attend as a quick perusal of the Agenda for Change payscale will determine.

There are sometimes free events of course – indeed I’ve organised several of these myself. However very often these are advertised perhaps a month or two in advance. This is usually enough for my academic friends to attend. However, as clinicians often book patients six months in advance, again this means it is structurally impossible for clinicians to attend as, no matter how interesting or pertinent the conference, patients must come first.

So, my academic colleagues, when you are organising your next seminar series please spare a thought for those of us seeing people who are having a rough time day after day – see if you can make it free, or low cost for people other than just your university faculty; and please arrange it far enough in advance that we can book time off to attend.

I’ll rap down my ivory tower for that