What is the Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) programme?

Last Updated: 29th July 2021

The HSST programme is a five-year workplace-based training programme that offers a fantastic opportunity for clinical scientists to train and become eligible to apply for available consultant clinical scientists posts.

Aims of the programme

The Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) programme seeks to train and develop an increased number of very senior consultant clinical scientists who can lead the development of new research, technology and practice working within multi-professional clinical teams to deliver quality improvement, innovation and world-class outcomes for patients.

This patient focused role offers plenty of scope for personal development, great career prospects and a wide range of opportunities to use specialist scientific skills and interests for the benefit of patients. A trainee on the programme will work directly with patients as well as being involved in innovation, research and development, education and training, to the benefit of the future scientific workforce. The programme offers workplace-based training supported by an underpinning doctorate level academic programme, commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) through the Manchester Academy for Healthcare Scientist Education (MAHSE). In Life Sciences the doctorate is optional but there is an additional requirement in these specialisms to complete the Fellowship examination of the Royal College of Pathologists.

The programme requires that a trainee follows a bespoke training programme agreed in advance with their local supervisor and recorded in an e-portfolio. It will require evidence of work place learning outcomes appropriate to the Standards of Proficiency of a Higher Specialist Scientist as published by the Academy of Healthcare Science.

The main components of the programme

There are three main components of the HSST curricula, which reflect the five domains of Good Scientific Practice (GSP):

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

These three components, mapped to GSP, cover both professional and specialism-specific syllabuses and the related assessment programme (including an Innovation in Clinical Sciences [ICS] project). Together they comprise the curriculum for the attainment of the standards required, for successful exit from the programme.

In addition, for those in physical sciences, physiological sciences or clinical bioinformatics, the Certificate of Completion of HSST (CCHSST) will also indicate that the underpinning doctoral programme/award (DClinSci) has been achieved.

In life sciences, the CCHSST indicates achievement of the Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath), the ICS project and work-based learning outcomes, which together meet the learning outcomes of the programme, with the doctoral award being optional.

What does the HSST curriculum deliver?

For all specialisms the HSST curriculum delivers a mastery of higher scientific knowledge and clinical and scientific competence and has a requirement during the 5-year programme for the individual to contribute to innovation or improvement through service delivery, patient safety, care, public communication/outreach and quality management. It delivers both personal and professional development including high-level skills in leadership, management, teaching, and the values, attitudes and behaviours appropriate for higher professional practice in the NHS.

The HSST curricula have been developed through joint working with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and individual medical royal colleges, senior scientists and scientific professional bodies, employers and patients and its underpinning academic doctoral programme has been established through joint working with the Council for Healthcare Science in Higher Education and workforce commissioners.