Reframing competencies


With the development of the NSHCS work-based assessment standards we are purposely moving away from the use of the words ‘competency’, ‘competence’ and ‘competencies’. The aim and ethos of our programmes has not changed, just the language used to describe some elements of them. We will continue to ensure that on successful completion of programmes, trainees are ready for post-programme practice.

The reason for the move away from ‘competencies’ is because in some areas these words are used in other training and accreditation systems, causing unnecessary confusion, particularly where the words have very specific meanings in specific systems, with legal definitions in some cases.

While the academic definition of ‘competence’ is fitting as an end point for the Scientist Training Programme (STP), we recognise that the practice definition is difficult to capture within the programme. The words are used in different ways by different specialties in different environments without universal agreement. This sets variable expectations of a trainee completing the programme.

The range of skills, understanding and knowledge that trainees in each specialty should possess by the end of programmes have been agreed by representatives of each specialty and they are described in the programme curricula. Each specialty curriculum defines the expectations of a trainee completing the programme. Although trainees may achieve ‘competence’ in other systems or by other measures alongside the programme, this outcome is not an expectation of the School programmes.

Programmes delivered by the School provide trainees with the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice, to consolidate their skills and develop their understanding in the clinical environment. The change in language and additional standards and guidance supporting the work-based element of the programme have been introduced to ensure the purpose and expectations of School programmes are clear, that there is parity of training experiences, and that the quality of training is maintained.