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Clinician-Scientists in-and-between Research and Practice: How Social Identity Shapes Brokerage

  • de Groot, Esther1
  • Baggen, Yvette2, 3
  • Moolenaar, Nienke4
  • Stevens, Diede5
  • van Tartwijk, Jan3
  • Damoiseaux, Roger1
  • Kluijtmans, Manon6
  • 1 Department of General Practice, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2 Human Resources Department, NN-Group, The Hague, The Netherlands
  • 3 Utrecht University,
  • 4 Ministry of Education, Culture and Science,
  • 5 NSO-CNA Leiderschapsacademie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 6 Center for Education, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Published Article
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Oct 06, 2020
DOI: 10.1007/s11024-020-09420-7
PMID: 33041374
PMCID: PMC7537963
PubMed Central
  • Article


Clinician-scientists (CSs) are vital in connecting the worlds of research and practice. Yet, there is little empirical insight into how CSs perceive and act upon their in-and-between position between these socio-culturally distinct worlds. To better understand and support CSs’ training and career development, this study aims to gain insight into CSs’ social identity and brokerage. The authors conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 17, purposively sampled, CSs to elicit information on their social identity and brokerage. The CSs differ in how they perceive their social identity. Some CSs described their social identity strongly as either a research or clinical identity (dominant research or clinical identity). Other CSs described combined research and clinical identities, which might sometimes be compartmentalised, intersected or merged (non-dominant-identity). In the types of brokerage that they employ, all CSs act as representatives. CSs with a non-dominant identity mostly act as liaison and show considerable variability in their repertoire, including representative and gatekeeper. CSs with a dominant identity have less diversity in their brokerage types. Those with a dominant research identity typically act as a gatekeeper. Combining lenses of social identity theory and brokerage types helps understand CSs who have a dual position in-and-between the worlds of clinical practice and research. Professional development programs should explicitly address CSs’ professional identities and subsequent desired brokerage. Research and policy should aim to clarify and leverage the position of CSs in-and-between research and practice.

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