Burnout, instability threaten health and medicine workforce

A new report outlines how funding instability and burnout are impacting careers of early and mid career academics (EMCA’s) in health and medicine across Australia.

The first national survey of 660 EMCAs working in health and medicine disciplines found that more than 80% would not recommend an academic career to others. Developed by researchers from the University of Melbourne and Monash University Drs George Taiaroa, Kelly Kirkland, Belinda Lawford, Courtney Walton, Katrina Long and Associate Professor Darshini Ayton found that unstable research funding, short-term contracts and staff burnout were key issues driving disillusionment.

The report found that the majority of respondents (58.2%) were employed on fixed term contracts, and more than half had less than a year remaining on their contract.

In results that should send chills through health faculty Deans across the country, almost half (46.4%) said they were thinking of leaving their profession and almost one third (31.8%) reported experiencing bullying or harassment in the workplace.

An astonishing 52.7% reported that they had observed research misconduct. In a sign of the toll that excessive hours and workplace stress can have on home life, while 54.3% reported work-related burnout, more than two out of every three respondents (66.9%) said they were experiencing personal burnout.

The report makes a range of practical recommendations for consideration at the national level, including addressing the decline in research funding in real terms, improve the clarity and fairness of grant assessment and development of nationwide strategies to make higher education careers more attractive.

The report found that EMCAs were far more likely to be satisfied and recommend academia as a career when they had a high level of satisfaction with their supervisor.

The report makes it obvious that universities can pitch supervisory excellence as a key drawcard to bolster their EMCA workforce, but also recommends training for supervisors and practical approaches to address security and sustainability of employment.



Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Subscribe to us to always stay in touch with us and get latest news, insights, jobs and events!