darbyshire p. (2010) Joint or clinical chairs in nursing: from cup of plenty to poisoned chalice? Journal of Advanced Nursing 66(11), 2592–2599.
Aim. This paper presents a discussion of the current state of joint chair or clinical chair positions in nursing.
Background. Joint chair positions in nursing or midwifery have been popular approaches to developing clinical research and to bridging the ‘theory-practice gap’. Recent personal observations and commentaries in the literature suggest that the service-academy consensus that underpinned such positions may be crumbling.
Data sources. This paper is based on 13 years’ experience of holding a joint chair position, an extensive review of the professional literature (up to and including 2009 sources), and conversations and discussions with many professorial and joint chair colleagues.
Discussion. Despite its demonstrated success, the joint chair position may be under threat from competing and unrealistic demands from partner organizations and from changing understandings of the essential role and nature of a professor. The situation may be exacerbated by appointing inexperienced or unsuitable applicants to such key posts.
Implications for nursing. The joint chair position was a powerful initiative in nursing and midwifery with real potential. In the current climate, this potential is unlikely to be realized and nursing will be the poorer.
Conclusion. If joint chair positions are still valued and seen as key roles in developing clinical research and university-service partnerships, then serious consideration needs to be given to the current state of position. I argue for a return to trust and what Onora O’Neill calls ‘intelligent accountability’ rather than the micromanagement that is so prevalent in both the health and academic industries.