A step-by-step process for exiting

The sequential steps trainees are required to follow to exit the HSST programme with certification are:

Step 1

It will be your responsibility to initiate the certification process. Application to exit the HSST programme with certification will normally be formally submitted to us within a three month window of the 5-year anniversary of your appointment date to the programme and usually no later than one year after that date using a standardised application form. (In the particular case of Cohort 1 the appointment date will be globally applied as March 2015 irrespective of the actual appointment date.)

Step 1a: Trainee submits exit form.

Step 1b: Workplace supervisor signs the exit form to confirm that the trainee has met all of the required standards.

Where appropriate to the bespoke pathway of the specialism the HSST trainee’s submission of an application to exit will also initiate the IAPS process.

Step 2

As part of the exit form application you will submit a “showcase” of five items of evidence from your OneFile portfolio. Each item showcased will reference one of the five domains of the Academy’s Standards for Higher Specialist Scientists. Separate items of evidence must be submitted for each of the five domains.

The showcase of evidence from OneFile is a requirement for Bioinformatics, Physical and Physiological Sciences only as those in the Life Sciences will have been independently assessed through completion of FRCPath.

The panel reserves the right in exceptional circumstances to request additional evidence or to undertake an on-site interview and evidence review with the trainee and their supervisor. Further details will be provided on this process if it is invoked.

The Head of School will ratify the panel findings and have ultimate responsibility for the issue of the CCHSST. The Academy, as the overarching governance body for the School, will be invited to review the exit process.

Step 3

The exit forms will be reviewed for completeness by the School. Incomplete forms will be returned to the applicant and require submission of a new application.

Step 4

The showcased evidence will be reviewed by an expert assessor, the Lead Examiner for the specialism, only to ensure the evidence appropriately maps to the referenced SoPs and may be graded as:

Outcome A = Pass

Outcome B = Modification or additional evidence required

Where trainees receive an Outcome B, the Lead Examiner’s comments will be returned to the candidate and resubmissions must include covering information describing the modifications made in response to the Lead Examiner’s comments. Resubmissions must be made within a three-month window of the initial application otherwise a new submission must be made.

Step 5

According to the outcome of the initial review of evidence, the bespoke pathway and the specialism, you will be required to attend the IAPS. Life Science trainees who have demonstrated Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists are not required to undergo the IAPS.

All others are required to undertake the IAPS. Candidates for IAPS are required to book onto a scheduled date for assessment. The scheduled of assessments will be published on our web site.

Step 6

The IAPS assessment consists of a specialist paper for review and an interview undertaken by two specialism specific examiners and can be broken down into three phases:

Phase One: On arrival for interview, the trainee will be given a specialist paper for review and allowed one hour to consider its contents.

Phase Two: Over a period of 30 minutes the candidate will be asked pre-set questions on the specialist paper.

Phase Three: Over a period of 45 minutes the candidate will be questioned on their level of understanding of the showcase evidence.

Graphic showing the HSST exit and IAPS timeline

Fig. HSST Exit and IAPS timeline

Overall completion outcomes

There will be two possible outcomes:

1a: Life Science candidates successfully negotiating Steps 1 and 3 are deemed to have provided evidence sufficient to demonstrate the successful completion of all required components of the bespoke HSST programme and the Certificate of Completion of HSST will be awarded.

1b: Non-Life Science candidates successfully negotiating Steps 1 through 6 are deemed to have provided evidence sufficient to demonstrate the successful completion of all required components of the bespoke HSST programme and the Certificate of Completion of HSST will be awarded.

2: In exceptional circumstance the expert panel may request additional evidence in order to demonstrate successful completion of the HSST programme. In this event the candidate and the workplace supervisor will receive detailed information and further guidance in a recommendation from the panel.