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Aoife McDermott

2022–23 U.K. Harkness Fellow; Professor of Human Resource Management, Cardiff University

Aoife McDermott headshot

Placement: University of California, Berkeley

Mentor: Hector Rodriguez, Ph.D., M.P.H., Kaiser Permanente Endowed Professor, Health Policy and Management; Director, Center for Healthcare Organizational and Innovation Research, UC Berkeley School of Public Health

Project: Strengthening Primary Care Through Clinical Staffing

Aoife McDermott, Ph.D., is a 2022–23 U.K. Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. She is a professor of human resource management at Cardiff University, where her work considers the role of people management in supporting service delivery and improvement in health and social care. Her current research portfolio focuses on the employment relationships and retention of health care staff. A committed teacher, she was founding program director of the M.Sc./Diploma in health care planning, commissioned by the Welsh Government and NHS Wales to provide a talent pipeline in this space. McDermott previously coordinated the multidisciplinary Cardiff Health Organization and Policy Studies (CHOPS) research group and is trustee of the Learned Society for Studies in Organizing Healthcare. She has organized the society’s biannual International Organizational Behavior in Healthcare Conference, and edited book and special issue collections produced from these meetings. Educated at Trinity College Dublin, McDermott was a Trinity Scholar, awarded a gold medal, and completed her Ph.D. as a Government of Ireland Research Scholar. She is a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Project Overview: Strengthening of primary health care is a Commonwealth Fund imperative and a shared policy priority in the U.S. and the U.K. Both countries face shortages in the supply of primary care clinicians despite attempts to enhance multidisciplinary teamworking, and concern regarding the retention of those currently in post because of work-related pressures.

As staffing impacts capacity to provide high-quality and equitable care, the research is underpinned by a concern with primary care clinicians’ employment relationships and experiences at work. First, it aims to understand the factors that influence primary care clinicians’ assessments of the attractiveness of their roles. Second, it aims to consider how these factors might inform the attraction and retention of primary care clinicians. Third, it aims to identify stakeholders with capacity and influence to enact the identified interventions.

The research will adopt a qualitative and case-based approach to enhance understanding of key influences on employment relationships, experiences of work in primary care, and how these vary in different contexts. Ultimately the research aims to enhance understanding of how to maintain and enhance clinical staffing in a range of primary care settings.