COVID-19: FAQs for STP trainees

Information for STP trainees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Questions about working during the Coronavirus pandemic

Previous trainees had opportunities to do outreach and networking events (e.g. International, Day for Medical Physics, Keynote speeches, etc). Do we still have some of these opportunities and if so how will they be managed?

In view of the restrictions in place, many conferences and meetings are being redesigned to be virtual meetings, at least in the next few months. This offers a new opportunity for trainees to attend online, particularly opening up access to International conferences. Please discuss with your training officer to highlight any opportunities, keep an eye on the NSHCS and Professional Body websites and join your local Trainee Network to ensure you hear about these opportunities. HEIs usually host sessions for trainees to present their Research Projects, some of these are being hosted online and offer further opportunities to engage.

I am living with someone who needs to be shielded from the current pandemic. As the job is not wet lab based and all the work involves computers and data can I do this from home. If I can what type of equipment will I need i.e memory, ram etc.

This is something you would need to agree with your training officer/employer in line with the employment policies of your Trust and would form part of your contract of employment and your training plan. Appropriate equipment for you to perform your duties should be provided by your Trust.

What steps are there to protect students who might have to shield again if there is a second wave?

Employers conduct Risk Assessments for all of their employees, and working practices are based on these. This may include working from home. Your training officer will discuss with you how this will affect your training, and your training plan will need to be flexible to address these requirements. We are working with our professional Healthcare Scientists to minimise disruption to training and to provide the best training possible, however where training is still significantly impacted due to exceptional circumstances, the School has policies in place to address these issues and details are available on the website .

In my Trust clinical scientists were re-deployed to help with the Covid response. Will this happen to us in the event of a 2nd wave and if so, how will this effect our competencies?

In the first wave, many trainees, particularly towards the end of their training, were able to utilise their transferrable skills to redeploy from areas with reduced work loads to areas with increased workloads. Whilst it is very difficult to predict what might happen in a second wave, it is less likely that first year trainees would be redeployed, but rather if the workload is reduced or there are safety issues, trainees may be required to work more from home. Training plans are designed to be flexible and rotations and specialist training may need to be re-arranged to a different point in your training to address this. Your training officer will be best placed to advise on this. The School is continually monitoring any interruptions to training and may, if necessary, put alternative processes in place to ensure trainees are not unduly disadvantaged due to variability in training opportunities.

Temporary registers are being developed for other healthcare professions. Is there a register for Healthcare Scientists?

The HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) has established a temporary register to receive final year trainees in a range of healthcare professions, including those on the Scientist Training Programme.

View further details about the HCPC COVID-19 temporary register for 3rd year STP trainees

 

Emails are circulating asking trainee healthcare scientists to volunteer at the Nightingale centre and to be upskilled to work on ICU. Are the school offering any guidance to the STP trainees on this front?

We are working closely with the Chief Scientific Officer’s office in NHS England to identify how the transferrable skills of healthcare scientists across our many specialties can be called upon so that healthcare scientists of all specialties can be upskilled and redeployed against the virus. 

More information on the redeployment of healthcare scientists 

Experiences gained whilst supporting the situation will undoubtedly contribute to scientist development. We are very aware that trainees in different years and different specialties are able to respond to the crisis differently. Healthcare scientists have a vital role to play and we’re aware that many existing staff want to offer their time and expertise to the Project Nightingale work

More information on Project Nightingale

What happens if Clinical staff are unable to deliver training or sign off competencies due to illness, self-isolation and /or commitments to clinical service? Will extensions be provided for Onefile submissions?

Training plans are designed to be flexible and this will especially be the case in the coming months. Once the impact of Covid-19 is better understood, we will be able to provide further guidance on how we can support trainees – we will aim to take a pragmatic view to ensure that trainees are not adversely affected, therefore we aren’t expecting trainees to have to take any further action in relation to their training imminently.

What is the policy for STP trainees if the UK were to be advised to work from home or under lockdown?

At the moment you should follow the advice provided by your individual employer. As you can imagine, there is no policy in relation to training during what is an unprecedented set of circumstances however we are working to develop some guidance to trainees as quickly as possible whilst also following government, PHE and HEE guidance.

It may be that trainees have to be flexible in their support of NHS services during this time whilst also maintaining their own personal and family safety so please adhere to your employer’s policies during this time.

Further information and guidance will be provided to trainees by the School via our website so please continue to visit this page on a regular basis for updates.

I am currently self-isolating but have concerns about returning to my workplace training. My department is currently seeing few patients and colleagues are doing general admin tasks – can I work from home and complete competencies/provide admin support from home?

Current Government advice is to work from home if possible unless you are a key worker – STP trainees are a varied group and it is not possible to be specific about which of these trainees are considered key workers – this will differ depending on year of training and possibly between specialties. HEE and the NSHCS are encouraging and supportive of all trainees to continue to contribute to services where they can, including supporting employers to redeploy trainees where it is safe to do so and where they can provide helpful support, or to work from home where risk assessment/workforce issues make this the best option. We advise you to discuss with your training officer as soon as possible as they are best placed to manage your individual circumstances. We are continually reviewing the situation and intend to provide regular updated guidance for our STP trainees in continuing to actively train where possible and to contribute to service where appropriate. We can only provide guidance within HEE and PHE policy and cannot override local employment policy or provide medical advice to trainees.

My doctor tells me that I need to self-isolate for 12 week. Will my Trust support me?

We understand that trainees have concerns regarding their own health and well being and any self-isolation requirements. Trainees are employees of their trusts and so should discuss their individual circumstances with their training officer/line manager who will have a duty of care to support their needs during this time. If trainees receive medical advice that they should be self isolating then this should be presented to the employer who should work within local employment policies to advise on the best approach for that individual. The School can only provide guidance within HEE, Government and PHE policy and cannot override local employment policy or provide medical advice to trainees. HEE is encouraging and is supportive of all trainees to continue to contribute to services where they can, including supporting employers to redeploy trainees where it is safe to do so and where they can provide helpful support, or to work from home where risk assessment/workforce issues make this the best option. We are continually reviewing the situation and intend to provide regular updated guidance for our STP trainees in continuing to actively train where possible and to contribute to service where appropriate. We are adding to our FAQ advice to training officers to consider trainee concerns and suggest that trainees should be supported to follow GPs advice, but it would be up to training officers and/or line managers to determine how to manage individual circumstances.

Questions about rotations

I understand this will differ between trusts and specialities, but do you envisage our rotations being affected across the next few years, and if they cant be completed, how will the competencies and our experiences be altered for this?

Rotations are an important part of the training experience. It is very difficult to predict what will happen over the next few months, however the School is working in collaboration with training officers to ensure that training opportunities are maintained. It may be that rotations within certain areas are not possible at this time, and we advise that training officers are flexible with timing if these can be accommodated at a later date, and training plans should reflect this. We are also sharing good practice – within some specialisms online versions of some of the rotational elements have been produced and these might form part of your rotational training.

How are rotations being affected?

In this unprecedented and constantly changing situation, you should follow the advice provided by your individual employer.

First and second year trainees may find that it is not possible to continue with rotations. We understand this and if it is the case then trainees should liaise with training officers and would be expected to return to their home department.

Trainees should record changes to their training plans, the reason and consideration of potential mitigation.

More advice on how to complete the learning outcomes for the rotations will follow in due course, we anticipate that some of these could be accomplished by self-directed learning to ensure that trainees have the appropriate knowledge and understanding.

'100% completion of the rotation modules' - are these the 1st and 2nd year competencies? Or does this include our competencies for our specialism?

The rotation modules are listed in the Curriculum library under this tab for each specialism eg for Audiology would be SPS200, SP201, SP202 and SP203. These are the same modules that should be completed as a requirement for MRP, and do not include final year specialist competencies.

Are all rotations still necessary? Can they be shortened or deferred until later?

The current COVID-19 situation has highlighted the benefits of the rotation system within the STP – these include encouraging trainees to look outside of their specialty, make contacts in other departments, and gain an understanding of the work of other specialisms. Our advice at present is that rotations are still required, they can be shortened (advice prior to COVID-19 suggested 4 weeks minimum) or deferred but should still aim to cover the learning outcomes and competencies – please discuss with your training officer. Training plans are intended to be flexible, this is especially important at this time and we would encourage trainees and training officers to continue to meet regularly where possible to discuss any difficulties in training.

If rotations are deferred this will put added pressure onto the second year, how will we fit in the extra work? What if it clashes with HEI assessments?

We recognise that circumstances recently have been very different to normal and training has been disrupted in many areas. As circumstances return to normal completing your training is very important and we expect that trainees and training officers will need to look carefully at your training plan and be flexible to minimise any disruption, allowing trainees to catch up. Indeed, many training plans are structured to allow some time at the end of the programme to allow for any “slippage”. We would advise that you share your concerns with your training officer to see if you can come to a workable solution, perhaps organising the rotations at a different time or if you have had extra study time over the last few weeks you will be keen to do more hands-on tasks. HEIs are also working hard to try and ensure all year groups complete all of their assessments on time to prevent the added burden of a backlog of academic work.

There are particular aspects in my specialism that make the rotations even more difficult to complete, will this be taken into account? Can I get an extension?

As there is such diversity in availability of training at present between the different specialisms in the STP, we need to take some time to discuss the particular challenges trainees are likely to face.  We will consider with training officers and other healthcare scientists, to determine what we all think is best and fair for trainees, paying detailed attention to issues such as this. The School will take into account that some trainees may not have completed certain rotations/competencies by the end of year 1 and this is likely to be reflected in the MRP. We aim to support trainees to progress through the programme without blanket extensions, however all of our supporting policies including EEC (Extension due to Extenuating) continue to be available and will be considered in the usual manner.

I will find it difficult to complete all my rotations on time, will the MRP be deferred to allow time for these to be completed?

The MRP was designed to be a supportive review with a chance to flag up any barriers to progression, at a time point that enabled measures to be put in place for trainees to recover progress – this is likely to be especially important next year. It is unlikely to be deferred, but it will be an important tool for us to recognise if trainees are struggling due to the extra challenges being faced just now. We will take into account the challenges of this year in respect to rotations when reviewing the MRP submissions.

When things do get back to normal we expect to be extra busy with the backlog of work. My department expect me to reduce my study time to accommodate this and don’t want me to be out of the department for rotations.

The current COVID-19 situation has highlighted the benefits of the rotation system within the STP – these include encouraging trainees to look outside of their specialty, make contacts in other departments, and gain an understanding of the work of other specialisms. Our advice at present is that if rotations are difficult to complete, they can be shortened but should still aim to cover the learning outcomes and competencies. We recognise that circumstances recently have been very different to normal and we fully support trainees contributing to the increased workload, but as circumstances change completing your training is also very important. We would advise that you share your concerns with your training officer to see if you can come to a workable solution, perhaps organising the rotations at a different time or if you have had extra study time over the last few weeks you will be keen to do more hands-on tasks.

How can I complete my rotations it if the units are closed? Is there scope for departments to offer rotations via distance/online learning? Is there any support available from the school for this - i.e help with online learning/creating material/online assessments.

As the NHS moves into the next phase of Restoration and Recovery, we anticipate that many services will begin to operate again. This may allow rotations to begin again, but there may be significant variability between specialisms as to what can go ahead and what cannot. For departments that are not active, distance/online learning may be an option – this is something that the School can discuss with training officers to identify what modifications may be possible.

Questions about electives

Will I have to complete an elective module next year?

Because of Covid-19, completion of the elective module was not mandatory this year as part of portfolio completion for 2019/20 final year trainees.

Due to the continuing impact of Covid-19 on training provision, this flexibility has been extended to 2020/2021 final year trainees. Completion of the elective module will not be a mandatory portfolio requirement for year 2 trainees progressing to their third year on programme in September 2020.

​​​​​​​The full set of programme completion criteria for 2020/21 will be published when final and approved, however, we thought it would be helpful to let trainees know about the status of the elective module as many are considering the planning for this module now.

How are electives being affected?

Whilst we consider these beneficial, they will NOT be mandatory for final year STPs due to finish in 2020.

If an Elective is not possible, trainees could use the time available to provide extra support to their departments by helping with routine tasks or to catch up on competencies or academic work if needed.

Questions about training

How will the cancellation of professional events and conferences affect training plans and the meeting of competencies for STP?

Training plans are designed to be flexible and this will especially be the case in the coming months. Trainees and training departments should attempt to rethink mapping to different opportunities to achieve the essential competencies if possible.

Questions about the academic aspect

Will we get study days when we are working at the hospital, or is our studying expected to be done in the evenings and weekends?

Trainees are entitled to have 20% study time for if and when you need them. So that you do not disturb your work-based training, we encourage you to discuss your study time requirements with your training officer and plan your study needs in advance . We also encourage you not to use your study time when you do not need to study.

How are deadlines being affected?

As we continue to review the situation, our discussions will now turn to completion deadlines and assessments, and obstacles to trainees’ ability to meet these.

Trainees should document changes to their training plans and rotations, we will continue to provide further information as soon as we can.

What will be the impact of COVID-19 on my workplace training and University lectures?

We recognise that in these exceptional circumstances, employers, trainees, trainers, departments and education providers may need to depart from established education and training procedures and arrangements including travel to, for example, universities or scheduled placements.

Individuals should follow guidance and information on rescheduling lectures/workshops provided by their HEIs together with that provided by the government by checking websites and emails regularly.

What will be the impact of STPs having to defer University modules or examinations due to Covid-19? If lectures remain cancelled for a number of weeks/months will the school help negotiate extensions with the Universities?

HEIs are implementing their own arrangements to manage the delivery of the programme within this academic year, including online teaching and assessment where appropriate and will notify trainees of any changes in the delivery and timing of lectures and assessments. We are working closely with all HEIs to avoid deferral of any aspects of the STP programme going forward if possible.

Once the impact of Covid-19 is better understood, we will be able to provide further guidance on how we can support trainees – we will aim to take a pragmatic view to ensure any impact is as minimal as possible, therefore we aren’t expecting trainees to have to take any further action in relation to their training imminently.

Will the MAHSE STP Research Day still go ahead?

MAHSE will be postponing the STP Research Day.

We appreciate that this would be disappointing for those of you who were planning to present at your first conference. MAHSE will be revisiting the STP Research Day and will communicate further at that time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact admin@mahse.co.uk

I understand that applications for individual undergraduate and master’s student projects are not being accepted, as resources are being moved towards COVID-19 research. What is the current guidance on what I should do if I need approval?

Trainees are now beginning to think about their masters research project. In March 2020, the Health Research Authority (HRA) and devolved administrations announced their decision to stop reviewing applications for individual undergraduate and master’s student projects until further notice. This is still their position. For a master’s project (where you are not necessarily generating new knowledge) it would not normally be essential to gain HRA approval. Doing a HRA approved study is not a requirement of the programme. A large proportion of STP trainees do projects that do not need HRA approval. All STPs will still be able to do an appropriate project. This will not prevent anyone completing the STP requirements.

The School met with the HRA to discuss the situation and the impact on STP trainees. Whilst STPs may still able to apply for HRA approval under the exceptions stated on the HRA website these applications might still be subject to delay. Even if projects are approved, it cannot be guaranteed that NHS/HSC organisations will be able to support such studies, even if in-principle agreement was given prior to the HRA submission.

It is also worth noting that obtaining HRA and local R&D approval for a research project is only one potential delay for delivering a research project in the current climate. We suggest thought be taken when planning any project as to its deliverability. This would involve considering (using a risk management approach) the potential impacts of further measures that may be taken to control COVID-19.

We suggest that you approach your University and work with your hospital based supervisor for further advice and support on the next stages – tutors are likely to be best placed to offer guidance on how to approach and adapt projects to ensure they remain at the appropriate level.

Suggested project types not requiring HRA and other supportive resources can be found at the HRA website.

Please also refer to the Curriculum on the School website for the overall aims of the research project.

Questions about the Independent Assessment of Clinical Competence

Are we able to reference papers in the IACC?

The IACC regulations allow trainees to reference competencies that have been signed off within either OneFile or OLAT; evidence within a signed off competence may also be referenced only. Trainees may refer to an academic paper that they feel has supported their professional development however the paper itself must not be citied as a reference within the IACC critical reflection. Trainees are reminded that additional artefacts (e.g. SoPs, National/Trust policies, audio, video) and appendices are not required to be submitted. Additions of any sort will result in your submission being rejected and forfeit of one submission attempt.

When we reference signed off competencies, are we not to discuss them any further? Should the narrative only discuss competencies that haven't been signed off?

Trainees may only reference evidence that has been signed off in either OneFile or OLAT. The IACC critical reflection is a personal narrative and trainees should consider how best to represent their current level of professional development as a basis for readiness to enter full registration. The discussion around readiness to enter full registration need not necessarily be one that claims full professional competence. Instead trainees may consider the extent to which they have an adequate level of clinical skills and knowledge to perform various parts of the role of a Clinical Scientist. The critical reflection can include a proposal for how this knowledge and understanding would help the trainee to perform safely once fully registered.

Can we only reference signed off competencies? What about signed off MSF, CBDs, DOPs and OCEs? Can we only refer to these if they have been used in evidence for a competency?

Trainees can reference OneFile or OLAT evidence of signed off competencies that have been signed off in either OneFile or

OLAT and any evidence contained within that signed off competence. If the signed off competence on One File includes evidence relating to a specific STP assessment tool that too may be referenced. For some trainees it may be possible to refer to performance within STP assessment tools within signed off competences in OneFile. However, trainees should carefully consider the extent to which an assessor would place weight on these statements in reaching their overall judgement. Trainees should also carefully consider whether the number of words required to discuss material of this type and whether this would be proportionate to their overall discussion. Trainees wishing to reference performance within specific STP assessment tools contained as evidence within signed off competencies in One File should use one of the following structures ModNo:CompNo/s:CBD1 or ModNo:CompNo:

In example 3 of the critical reflection examples given, the narrative has been failed because it relates to domain 4 but they have not stated so. If we are writing under the domain headings as on the template, do we really need to refer to the domain number? Also, are we expected to refer to the individual points we are discussing, such as 4.1.2, 4.1.9 etc.?

Trainees will only normally need to refer to the numbered domain descriptor rather than the individual numbered competences. Although individual numbered GSP domains may be referenced trainees should consider whether this approach is proportional to their discussion and whether the assessor is likely to place any weight on this.

Can trainees use evidence from things done outside or prior to the STP programme to support the IACC submission, for example a PhD thesis?

Trainees are permitted to reference evidence associated with signed off competencies in either OneFile or OLAT. Where signed off competencies include evidence from other sources such as a PhD thesis this too can be referenced. The IACC regulations do not permit trainees to reference evidence that is not within OneFile or OLAT, this includes referencing wider evidence within a PhD thesis that is not evident within the OneFile/OLAT evidence.

Could and should trainees reference evidence of STP assessment tools within signed off OneFile evidence such as MSF, CBD, DOP and OCEs?

Trainees can reference OneFile or OLAT evidence of signed off competencies that have been signed off in either OneFile or

OLAT and any evidence contained within that signed off competence. If the signed off competence on One File includes evidence relating to a specific STP assessment tool that too may be referenced. For some trainees it may be possible to refer to performance within STP assessment tools within signed off competences in One File. However, trainees should carefully consider the extent to which an assessor would place weight on these statements in reaching their overall judgement. Trainees should also carefully consider whether the number of words required to discuss material of this type and whether this would be proportionate to their overall discussion. Trainees wishing to reference performance within specific STP assessment tools contained as evidence within signed off competencies in OneFile should use one of the following structures ModNo:CompNo/s:CBD1 or ModNo:CompNo:

When referring to IACC evidence is it enough to say “ I feel evidence supplied as part of competency MB-1-C-1 shows clinical practice skills” or should trainees name of the evidence and what it is?

Either approach may be taken. The IACC is a personal critically reflective narrative that an assessor will consider to determine whether a trainee can practice safely. Trainees should consider the level of detail, words used and the weight an assessor may place on statements relating to multiple pieces of evidence in reaching their overall judgment on the IACC submission.

Could and should trainees use tables and figures within the IACC submission template? If tables and figures are used will words used contribute to the word limit.

The IACC submission is very personal to the trainee and leads to statements about readiness to practice. Trainees are free to format their IACC submission in any way they wish, as long as this is consistent with the IACC regulations.

IACC assessors will base their judgment solely on the content and form of the critical reflection. Diagrams, tables and figures may only support or inform that critical reflection. Content or substance of the critical reflection must not be included within tables, figures or diagrams. Where this condition is met words within tables figures and diagrams will not contribute to the word count.

Trainees should carefully consider the extent to which tables, figures and diagrams will support or inform, the critical reflective narrative and IACC assessment criteria. Trainees must also be mindful of the issues discussed below.

The content of tables, figures or diagrams must not be used to attempt to circumvent the IACC regulations and policies, for example where content would infringe the regulations or policies if included with the plain text of the critical reflection. This includes placing critically reflective content within tables, figures and diagrams in an attempt to avoid the word limit. Where tables, figures or diagrams infringe IACC regulations or policies trainees will be subject potential penalties.

Trainees should consider the extent to which it is helpful to include standard material which an expert assessor would already be aware of, and which would not add weight to the discussion. Trainees should also be aware that the IACC regulations only permit reference to signed off competencies within One File or OLAT. Breach of this regulation, which includes the addition of additional artifacts or appendices will result in the IACC submission being rejected with the loss of one IACC submission attempt.

Will the IACC this year undergo quality assurance to ensure that the standard of assessment will not be compromised? As a recently HCPC registered clinical scientist, I am concerned that the change in mode of assessment may affect the standard and quality of trainee who pass the assessment.

The IACC will need to be assessed at the expected standard and level (L7) of the STP and will have the good practice assessment quality assurance process to follow such as verification and standardisation. Like the results of the OSFAs, there will be review of the IACC results data by division level Examination Boards each of which will include the Lead Station Writer of all relevant specialties as well as senior members of the School; the AHCS may choose to observe the board proceedings. The outcomes from the IACC will also be forwarded to the final ratification board for review and check for cross-specialty and cross-division consistency in arriving at the outcomes. The outcomes must be ratified by the Head of School prior to release to trainees. These QA layers are similar to those applied for the OSFA and ensure robust and reliable outcomes.

How is a critical reflection a comparable process to the OSFA? Students finishing this year may be seen as not equally qualified as a previously qualified trainees by employers.

The design of the IACC is a pragmatic and proportionate approach which recognises the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on trainees and training provision. It reflects the aim of the OSFA in providing an independent judgement of the trainee’s readiness to practise just as the OSFA determines fitness to practise through an assessment of practical skills. We think an exercise in gaining insight into their own readiness to practise that informs their behaviours when in role as a safe and competent Clinical Scientist will have great value to patients and employers. We suggest that trainees going through the present circumstances have shown themselves to be pretty resilient and willing to be versatile for the benefit of patients and their care during this time of great need, have in many cases stepped up to the plate and demonstrated their transferable skills in many different situations and ways. These are sought after attributes by employers as is employees’ insight and foresight into their scope of expertise gained through this assessment.

Do the training officers have any involvement in the final critical reflective narrative?

Training officers should support their trainee in attaining the necessary insight and foresight through critical reflection to enable them to write the narrative – this is similar to supporting trainees in preparing for the OSFA.

How was this assessment chosen for all specialisms as a replacement for the OSFA? Why couldn't OSFA be made virtual / provided the questions and submit responses

The format was chosen to recognise that trainees have experienced variable training provision and support in the last couple of months and will continue to do so over the next few months. It is they, with the help of their training officer who will know best their stage of development towards a Clinical Scientist role and be able to plan for their continuing development when in employment.

Before we even consider virtual OSFAs, we need to consider the OSFA methodology. The OSFA is standardised so trainees are likely to be disadvantaged if their training has been disrupted differently to their peers. With the IACC you are being asked to provide a response to the question – are you ready for practise? All trainees set the response in their own experience and development and go further by considering how they will face the challenge of dispensing their responsibilities safely when in practice.

Will the critical reflection narrative have to cover just the competencies/assessments not completed and passed on OneFile

The narrative should be seen as your demonstration to the assessor that you are ready to practise as a safe and competent Clinical Scientist. It should include your critical analysis and insight to your current stage of development and foresight on your continuing development needs in order to meet the challenge of your role as a Clinical Scientist.

What is the expectation around the number of scenarios we should critically analyse for each domain. Considering the word count, each section should cover ~500 words. This doesn't give a lot of scope to analyse lots of different scenarios, but maybe 1 or 2 in-depth. Does this sound correct?

The IACC is a personal critically reflective narrative. The presentation of critical reflective narratives within each of the six sections of the IACC submission template is a matter for individual trainees. IACC submissions must be sufficiently clear to be understood and appropriate for a critical reflective narrative at level 7.

Can we use bullet points, for example to list multiple pieces of evidence etc.

The IACC is a personal critically reflective narrative. The presentation of critical reflective narratives within each of the six sections of the IACC submission template is a matter for individual trainees. IACC submissions must be sufficiently clear to be understood and appropriate for a critical reflective narrative at level 7.

Does the assignment have to be in paragraph format or can it be presented with sub-headings which will then display the information?

The IACC is a personal critically reflective narrative. The presentation of critical reflective narratives within each of the six sections of the IACC submission template is a matter for individual trainees. IACC submissions must be sufficiently clear to be understood and appropriate for a critical reflective narrative at level 7 and must remain within the word count.

How many questions in the critical reflections? or one long question?

There are no questions.  Trainees submission must be grounded in the 5 GSP domains and also provide a global statement, bringing the threads together to convince the assessor of their readiness to practise. The submission template that trainees must used will be structured in this way.

How many words will the critical reflection be? How long will have to write this?

The expectation is a minimum of 2500 words for a well thought out narrative but absolutely must not exceed 3500The submission window is from 29 June to 13 July so up until then.

Each GSP domain has many different sub-points (e.g. Professional Practice 1.1.1 to 1.1.11). Are we required to address/comment on every single one of them in IACC write-up?

Trainees are required to address each of the five GSP domains. It is not a mandatory requirement to address the numbered expectations within each domain.

How do we reference items in our portfolio that were completed on OLAT? All items completed in OLAT have not got a competency number and are just called for example OLT1. I have multiple competencies across various modules which all have the same competency number of OLT1?

Trainees should always reference their curriculum codes, and NOT their submission number. For example, a trainee could cite “SBI101-Competency 1”. They should NOT cite “COM8”. This is because assessors do not have access to trainee portfolios, so can only check the evidence in your reflection against the reference in the Curriculum Library. Citations should be in that format, regardless of whether you completed that piece of your portfolio on OneFile or OLAT.

Where can I find the IACC submission template?

You can obtain a copy of the IACC Submission Template here:

Download the IACC submission template

Please email the assessment team on nshcs.assessment@hee.nhs.uk to request your Unique identification number.

I am confused about how I lay out my submission and reference items?

The template provided has been created with a set structure which is what needs to be followed, we would recommend speaking to your training officer to get further guidance if required. You can also refer to the IACC Requirement for submission document.

Will there be more than one assessor marking each reflection?

Only one assessor, independent  to the trainee, will mark each submission. They will be able to ask for the support of a specialist moderator if needed to help them with anything tricky. The Examination Board will review all outcomes data and confirm them as for an OSFA.

How is the new training for the assessors being resourced?

The School will review the assessment expertise in house and also across HEE to develop and deliver the training.  We will also ask our HEI partners for advice and guidance on marking written assignments.

How will the critical report be marked - Pass/fail?

Yes – pass or fail – similar to the OSFA

What happens if a third year trainee fails the critical reflection?

Trainees are eligible for two further attempts. The resubmission windows will be:

Autumn 2020 – Monday 12 October to Monday 26 October 2020

Winter 2021 – Monday 18 January to Monday 1 February 2021

Spring 2021 – Monday 12 April to Monday 26 April 2021

What happens if I fail my IACC, will I go through another IACC process or if this is next year will I sit an OSFA instead?

2020 exiting trainees are all taking the IACC, if you fail the first attempt you have two further attempts of the IACC during the set resubmission windows. You will not revert to sitting an OSFA, trainees are expected to remain on one set route for all possible attempts so if your first attempt is an IACC this will also apply to the next two attempts that they are eligible for.

I read that in your documents it says that 85% of trainees pass the OSFA, and 15% fail - so is the school aiming to have a similar pass mark?

The School does not have a target pass rate for the IACC, neither has the School had a target pass rate for the OSFA previously.

Will the mock osfa results have a bearing if a trainee is borderline?

No, participating in the mock OSFA was not mandatory and for formative experience only.  As not all trainees attended and those who attended did so on a different basis, it would be unfair to use the mock OSFA results.

Which lead station writers have you approached?

We approached a representative group of LSWs across all of the HCS divisions plus Lead Healthcare Scientists.  We also conferred with the AHCS and HEE executive and obtained external expert assessment advice.

Questions about completion in 2020

Will there be an extension available for those trainees who through COVID will not be able to finish their training in the expected time?

HEE are taking an overall view of extensions of training for programmes across all professions.

We are still aiming for third year trainees to complete on time and are adapting the completion requirements to accommodate the impact of the pandemic.

The situation remains under review for years 1 and 2 however we continue to aim for trainees to be able to complete with the original timeframes. Should anything change or if there is any further information to share we will of course make sure that trainees and training officers are informed as soon as possible.

Trainees who have exceptional circumstances which are non covid related can continue to apply for extensions by following the EEC policy.

The 2020 live OSFAs have been cancelled - could you clarify whether by 'not postponed' this means that trainees will not be expected to take the live OSFAs in 2021?

Third year STP trainees will not be required to undertake a live OSFA in July 2020.

In place of the OSFA, trainees will be required to submit a written critical reflection on their clinical competence and readiness to practise, which outlines how their experience and learning to date demonstrate how they meet the standards set out in the Academy of Healthcare Science’s Good Scientific Practice.

Our current plan is that this piece of written work will be submitted by a point in mid-July. Trainees will be given advance notice of the precise requirements of the written assignment in May.

Trainees and their training officers will be provided with further and more detailed guidance about the alternative final assessment next week and beyond.

Our aim is to put in place a system that provides an opportunity for final year STP trainees to complete the STP programme at the usual time in a way that is fair and transparent. Our approach must ensure that Clinical Scientists joining the full HCPC register continue to be safe and fit to practice; without unduly adding to the pressures already faced by our Healthcare Scientist colleagues who will remain integral to STP assessment.

How will completion of the programme be affected?

Final year trainees are likely to be very concerned about how they will complete, particularly as the end to their funding approaches.

You can find more information about completion for STP Trainees due to COVID-19 Pandemic here

What if my Training Officer is not a HCPC registered scientist?

We have received a number of queries about the expectation that a declaration of the trainee’s scientific specialty competence will be required from an HCPC-registered scientist.

To allay some of the concerns we have received from trainees and training officers who have suggested that this might be problematic, we would like to provide this additional advice, which will be included in the full requirements when they are published.

Normally, the trainee’s training officer would be registered with the HCPC and attest to their trainee’s scientific specialty competence. Where this is not the case, we advise that the training officer attests to their trainee’s scientific specialty competence, citing their membership of their professional body and/or voluntary registration. This confirmation must then be ‘countersigned’ by an HCPC registered colleague within the employing Trust or organisation such as a Lead Healthcare Scientist. If necessary, we advise that trainee and training officer confer with colleagues in healthcare science departments within their Trust or organisation or ask advice from their HR department or Education and Training Lead to identify a colleague registered with the HCPC.

The signature of a registered Clinical Scientist is needed because the Scientist Training Programme confers eligibility for entry to the HCPC statutory register for Clinical Scientists.

Details of the mechanism for providing the sign off and, if necessary, countersignature will be published nearer the time of programme completion.

Should you need further advice on this or other aspects of programme completion, please contact us at the School at nshcs@hee.nhs.uk

Specialism specific questions

2nd Year Cardiac- Training has currently been put on hold. How are second year trainees expected to make a decision on which stream to specialise in if month of training have been missed out on.

Talk this through with your training officer – this will allow you to consider the options more fully. However, specialisms within the STP which allow a choice in routes in the final year are designed to provide appropriate underpinning knowledge and training prior to further sub-specialisation, and the decision to concentrate on either Echo or CRM for 1 year of the programme does not define your career going forward – it does not preclude training in the other specialty later on. Indeed, Cardiac Scientists with good skills in both area are likely to be much in demand with more options open to them. On completion of the programme you will get a certificate of completion from us in Cardiac Science so we will not make the distinction.

As transplants are almost entirely suspended, H&I trainees have also had their training paused. How will second years be expected to complete specialist modules?

As circumstances return more to normal completing your training is very important and we expect that trainees and training officers will need to look carefully at training plans and be flexible to minimise any disruption, allowing trainees to catch up. We would advise that you share your concerns with your training officer to see if you can come to a workable solution, perhaps organising aspects of training at a different time or if you have had extra study time over the last few weeks you will be keen to do more hands-on tasks. There may be scope to cover more of the core competencies or to work on your project literature review.  As there is such diversity in availability of training at present between the different specialisms in the STP, we need to take some time to discuss the particular challenges trainees are likely to face.  We will consider with training officers and other healthcare scientists, to determine what we all think is best and fair for trainees, paying detailed attention to issues such as .