That’s the view of Sydney Health Partners and University of Sydney Senior Research Fellow, Dr Nicole Rankin, who is working to develop a community of practice in the emerging field of Implementation Science.

“We definitely face a challenge when the demand for implementation scientists outstrips supply because we haven’t got that cadre of really experienced researchers coming together in a collective way,” said Dr Rankin.

“We might have people in different pockets around the country who have expertise - but we can build more of that kind of expertise here within Sydney Health Partners and across the University.”

Sydney Health Partners recently appointed Dr Nicole Rankin to work more broadly with industry and Health District stakeholders to improve knowledge of Implementation Science across the health care system.

With a background in behavioural psychology, Dr Rankin developed an interest in Implementation Science while working in onco-psychology.

“I saw interventions that had been shown to work in a research setting not being used in cancer services where they could benefit patients,” she said. “Clinicians often had to go out and find new research that might benefit their patients and then implement it without support, so I was interested in ways to make this process easier.”

Dr Rankin is now working alongside other members of Sydney Health Partners to develop capacity of clinicians, researchers and the health services in Implementation Science through training programs and the annual Implementation Science Symposium.

“The Symposium will bring together over 200 clinicians, researchers and members of the health districts for a day of presentations and discussions about what’s happening in Implementation Science in the health care system,” said Dr Rankin.

“What we discuss at the Symposium will really help us set the direction that Sydney Health Partners takes in Implementation Science moving forward.”

The following day, key stakeholders from across the Partnership and beyond will meet for a half-day workshop to begin to define the scope of an Implementation Science training program.

“We’ll be hearing from Dr Ross Brownson from Washington University in St. Louis about international Implementation Science training programs and then discussing how we might apply and adapt these to the Australian health care setting,” said Professor Don Nutbeam, Senior Advisor to Sydney Health Partners, who has been instrumental to the Implementation Science work undertaken by SHP.

“It’s important that we develop training programs that target clinicians at every level – both those involved in research and those not – and give them the confidence to implement evidence-based research into their own clinical practice,” said Professor Nutbeam.

Beyond training programs and the Symposium, Sydney Health Partners is also working one-on-one with key industry bodies to foster research collaborations.

Dr Rankin was recently invited to an education session with the Implementation Team at the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) to talk about Implementation Science and help them understand how to incorporate it into their work.

“Most of work done by ACI is in the Quality Improvement space on the ground, so it was interesting to hear about the challenges they face and to see the ways in which Sydney Health Partners can bring the Implementation Science expertise to the ACI,” said Dr Rankin.

“As we continue to expand our work in Implementation Science, we hope to see more of these partnerships and collaborations develop.”