More and more medical scientists are joining the call for better investment in their profession and greater recognition for the professionals performing this vital work.
Professional Scientists Australia members may recall an article late last year featuring Professor Tony Ferrante, calling for greater recognition of the fantastic work of medical scientists , and right now many more medical scientists are joining this call.
Despite their vital place in the healthcare system, most medical scientists do their work outside of the spotlight and few members of the public realise the extent of the work that medical scientists do.
Well-resourced medical science is the foundation of a strong healthcare system.
Our members know that when medical science is properly resourced, treatment is more effective, hospital stays are reduced and repeat presentations for care decrease. Studies have indicated that government investment in medical research is returned over two fold in the form of improved healthcare, innovation and disease prevention. Read more
- Scientific research opens doors to treatments for previously untreatable problems;
- Clinical scientists interact daily with patients, interpreting complex data, making critical decisions and informing medical teams how to provide appropriate treatment;
- Scientists working in quality control ensure the pharmaceuticals used in our hospitals meet the highest quality and safety standards; and
- Pathologists perform precise study and diagnosis of disease, without which patients could not be effectively treated.
Despite this, the new Federal Government has failed to appoint a Science Minister for the first time since 1931, while the Government funding scheme; the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) approved funding for just 19% of applications put before it. More
Research scientists typically hop from short term contract to short term contract, their employment dependent on receiving the funding grants for which they must continually apply.
Missing out on a funding grant may mean that a particular researcher (and possibly their team) is out of a job. This insecure form of employment is resulting in more and more researchers being driven from the field, taking potentially lifesaving breakthroughs with them.
The importance of medical science goes beyond the field of lab based research.
Clinical Scientists work in extremely specialised areas of our hospitals, interacting with patients and making pivotal treatment decisions, which the public would assume are being carried out by doctors.
Professional Scientists Australia members have reported occasions when a hospital’s own management have made this mistake, not realising that it is a scientist, rather than a medical officer, filling a particularly crucial role. This lack of recognition is exactly why medical scientists need to step out of the background in order to be heard.
Pathologists face similar issues. Large scale pathology laboratories employ hundreds of scientists who spend their days performing complex testing on sophisticated instruments, studying and diagnosing disease.
Pathology is involved in up to 70% of medical treatment decisions, and 60% of Australians will require pathology services at least once a year (http://knowpathology.com.au/). It is lack of public awareness, as well as the heavy, repetitive workload and shortage of career advancement opportunities which these Professional Scientists Australia members report as their main concern.
This is why Professional Scientists Australia is shining a light on the many and varied ways that Medical Science supports the healthcare system, and why members are calling on their colleagues to join together with them.
Late last year dozens of medical science professionals in South Australia came together to talk about the state of their profession and why scientists themselves need to take charge of its future. These scientists committed to building a strong voice for their profession, ahead of Enterprise Bargaining in the SA Public Sector in 2014.
Now is the time for all Medical Scientists to join together and work towards winning the respect and recognition they deserve. You can sign up now
To find out how you can become more involved, contact your local Professionals Australia office.