In response to the challenges posed by the very variable disruption to training caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the School has liaised with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), Health Education England (HEE) and trainees and training officers to ensure that completion pathways are attainable and that all trainees are treated fairly and not disadvantaged. Whilst all elements of the current curriculum are considered to be appropriate and important, it is recognised that, during the pandemic, it has not been possible for all trainees to access all competencies and training opportunities, and that this disruption has been variable across specialisms, cohorts and training departments. Reasons for this include trainees and training officers being redeployed or working remotely, services paused, social distancing policies or pressures of work. The aim has been to facilitate completion for trainees that can demonstrate their readiness to practice, ensuring that patient safety is protected and that trainees can enter the workplace safely as entry-level Clinical Scientists.
For trainees completing in 2020 and 2021, amendments were made to the completion pathways including a new final assessment (the IACC) and the option of a ‘sign-off’ by a HCPC registered Clinical or Biomedical Scientist, attesting to the trainee’s readiness to practice where trainees have not been able to complete 100% of their specialist competencies due to COVID-19. As rotational modules take place early in the programme, these were considered to be unaffected by COVID-19 and so completion of these modules remained mandatory. Module SCC 110, ‘Introduction to Healthcare Science, professional practice and clinical leadership’ was considered to be attainable despite the disruption due to COVID-19 and therefore completion of this module also remained mandatory. It was considered that SCC 121 ‘elective module’ would be difficult to organise and, whilst the learning outcomes for this module are considered very beneficial to trainees, making this module non-mandatory allowed more time to be devoted to specialism training. More details are available on the STP completion criteria for 2021.
Following this year’s Midterm Review of Progression (MRP) and discussions with trainees and training officers, we have considered the completion requirements for those graduating in 2022. For this cohort, rotations were badly disrupted by the pandemic. We provided advice to trainees and training officers regarding flexibility of these modules, both in terms of length of rotations and ways to deliver and assess them, and we are pleased to note that some trainees have been able to complete their rotations and these have been signed-off. We recognise the hard work that has gone into this, and the knowledge and experiences gained will undoubtedly benefit all-round development as a Clinical Scientist. However, we are aware that for many trainees access to some competencies has not been possible to date, and completing these in the final year will come at the expense of the specialist training. We have considered this in our discussions around Completion 2022 and have amended the process accordingly.
The requirements for 2022 completion
In deciding on completion requirements for 2022, we worked with colleagues in professional bodies and lead station/curriculum writers where appropriate and considered whether all competencies in the module were a) accessible and b) essential for performance of the specialism, and have come to the following decisions.
For 2022 completion, trainees should complete as much of their One File portfolio evidence as possible, but where the pandemic has made this impossible we will accept the following as a minimum:
- 100% completion of the trainee’s own specialist-related rotation modules assessments and competencies. This rotation is considered essential as a foundation for the specialism, and as it does not require attendance at an external department it is considered achievable. Completion of the other 3 rotations is encouraged but will not be mandatory. The HCPC registered Clinical Scientist or Biomedical Scientist sign-off will be extended to include this. The details of which rotational modules are considered mandatory for each specialism are available here.
- 100% completion of ‘SCC110: Introduction to Healthcare Science, Professional Practice and Clinical Leadership’.
- 2 x Multi Source Feedback (MSF), completed on Clarity and uploaded and signed off on OneFile.
- Successful completion of the Independent Assessment of clinical Competence (IACC) exit assessment.
- Successful completion of the Master’s (MSc) in Clinical Science.
- A declaration by a HCPC registered Clinical or Biomedical Scientist of the trainee’s scientific specialty competence if the specialist or the rotational modules are not fully completed on the e-portfolio.
For Clinical Pharmaceutical Science, Clinical Microbiology and Clinical Bioinformatics (Physical Sciences), these have been given special consideration including discussions with the Lead Editors for these Specialisms, as the first year modules have a different underlying rationale.
For Clinical Pharmaceutical Science, the first year modules (SPE 200,201,202 and 203) are considered to be foundation levels with a second module in each area. During COVID-19, some areas of training have proved difficult to access but other areas are delivered within the home department and should therefore be accessible. SPE200 ‘Quality assurance and quality control 1’ is deemed essential and accessible for all trainees, and it will be a requirement to complete 100% of this module. However, the other modules, particularly SPE 202 ‘Production 1’ have been challenging to access and therefore it will not be mandatory to complete 100% of these.
For Clinical Microbiology, the first year modules (SLS 200, 201, 202 and 203) are considered to be foundational modules rather than rotations. All are considered to be essential core knowledge which the later specialist modules build on. As they are core knowledge, access to this training has not been such a problem during COVID-19, and the Professional Body has organised a series of on-line resources to ensure that the more difficult learning outcomes have been available to access. Therefore, these will all be counted as mandatory to complete – the alternative pathway for completion first available in 2020 (HCPC Scientist sign-off if trainee is unable to access 100% of the specialist training) will be an option if trainees are unable to complete all competencies due to COVID-19 related disruption, but these 4 first year modules will need to be completed.
For Clinical Bioinformatics (Physical Sciences) there are 2 rotations that have been considered both achievable and core, SBI101 Computing for Clinical Scientists and SBI 102 Information and Communications Technology in the Clinical Environment, and these will both be mandatory. Trainees are encouraged to complete as much of the other 2 rotations as possible, but full completion of these will not be mandatory if not possible due to COVID-19 disruption.
Trainees and training officers are reminded that we introduced the amended pathway (use of a ‘sign off’ if the e-portfolio could not be fully completed) as an option to recognise the effects of COVID-19 and the disruption to training. All trainees should aim to complete as much of their portfolio as possible. We have not provided minimum levels of competencies to be completed – as disruption is variable we believe that the training officer is the best placed person to make this decision and this is recognised by the need for sign off by an individual with HCPC registration.
STP Requirements for Completion Policy (2022)
This document outlines the processes by which the National School of Healthcare Science will assure and manage the review and confirmation of trainee completion, for all required elements of the Scientist Training Programme (STP). It outlines timescales, key activities and identifies stakeholders or other bodies, who have a role or influence on the management of this process.publications