Part of Guidance for HSST supervisors

What is the HSST programme about?

Last Updated: 13th April 2021

Here is an introduction to the Higher Specialist Scientist Training programme.


The HSST is a 5-year academic and workplace training programme equivalent in status and challenge to medical registrar training. The programme is a collaboration between the NSHCS, the MAHSE consortium and the professional body Royal College of Pathologists.

Aims of the HSST programme

The aim of the programme is to gain the skills necessary to become a consultant clinical scientist, mastering higher scientific knowledge and clinical competence. Trainees will be expected to achieve personal and professional development in leadership, teaching, values, attitudes and behaviours appropriate for higher professional practice. There is a requirement for a contribution to innovation and improvement through service delivery, patient safety, care, public communication/outreach and quality management.

How is the programme delivered?

The delivery of the programme is a collaborative approach between the NSHCS, the MAHSE consortium and the professional body RCPath.

The standard of education and training is based on the Academy of Health Care Science’s Good Scientific Practice (GSP). It involves self-directed and independent learning, trainees must be experiential, reflective Innovative and engaged with stakeholders and community. Trainees are expected to consistently demonstrate the attitudes and behaviours necessary for the role of a consultant clinical scientist.

The work-based training component of HSST is overseen by the National School of Healthcare Science and delivered in the workplace. The academic component of HSST is known as the Doctor of Clinical Science (DClinSci). Typically, trainees attend 1-2 days of face-to-face teaching per 10 credits taught academic module for Sections A and B.

How is the HSST different from the STP?

It is very different from the STP, there is no specified competencies, no required numbers or types of work-place based assessments or rotations. Each trainee follows a bespoke training plan agreed and planned with their workplace supervisor and recorded in their OneFile e-portfolio. The standard of education and training have been drafted and based on the Academy of Health Care Science’s Good Scientific Practice (GSP).

Components of the HSST programme

There are three main components of the HSST curricula which reflect the five domains of GSP:

  1. Clinical and scientific skills, and values, behaviours and attitudes relating to professionalism and the delivery of scientific/clinical services (Domains 1 and 3)
  2. Scientific content (Domain 2)
  3. Contribution to research, innovation and leadership in healthcare science (Domains 4 and 5)