What is a Scientific Officer?
We are a diverse group of dedicated individuals with post-graduate science or engineering degrees who are primarily involved in complex scientific medical diagnostic procedures as well as health research and method development. Our group of 35 on the Christchurch Hospital Campus operate across diverse medical disciplines including surgery, endocrinology, neurology, molecular medicine, microbiology, virology, biochemistry, haematology, bioengineering and psychiatry. Many of us hold academic status with the University of Otago and the University of Canterbury and are actively involved in supporting our medical colleagues and publishing the outcome of our work. We believe that without our input Christchurch Hospital would be less attractive to leading international clinicians and this could compromise the first world status of our health system.
Many of our group fit the traditional stereotype of the bearded, bespectacled and greying scientist and for this reason succession planning is an issue that needs addressing if we wish to retain our modern world health status. We need competitive salaries in order to retain our younger scientists who otherwise are likely to be lured to the universities as the baby boom demographic bubble bursts. Like other APEX groups we have been negotiating for individual conference and CPD allowances, to date, without success. Our small professional body, The New Zealand Hospital Scientific Officers’ Association (www.hospitalscientists.org.nz), runs and administers an approved CPD programme and this scenario could be a viable option for smaller occupational groups within APEX.
Much of our work also has potential “spin off” commercial opportunities and some of our discoveries have been commercialised into diagnostic tests and medical devices. We are therefore keen to embed an intellectual property agreement with the CDHB to ensure commonality with our University of Otago campus colleagues and hence recognise the contribution of individuals and the departments involved.