HSST Monthly Memo (December 2023)

The HSST Monthly Memo includes the latest programme updates, events and key resources for HSST trainees and supervisors.

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HSST Monthly Memo 2023
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Message from Training Programme Director

This month’s message is from Dr Owen Driskell

“I don’t care too much what happened in the past. I prefer to focus on what is coming next and I am really looking forward to it.” Sebastian Vettel

Context is important to interpretation. Sebastian Vettel is a Formula One Driver. What is coming next is usually heading at him at over 200mph, so I am thinking there isn’t much time for reflection about the past. However, the car he is driving has benefited from countless hours of reflection. And the skills he uses to move it round the track, whilst they may be derived from natural talent, have benefited from repeated practice and learning wrapped up in his experiences of rising through the ranks of competitive motor racing. Yes, it is important not to dwell on things too much, whether ruing failures or resting on any laurels. This may be the intended sentiment behind Sebastian’s quote, but the value of appropriate reflection is learning and development to inform the future.

It is that time of the year when we are looking at the returns from the Annual Review of Progression (ARP), see update below. Thank you for taking part. It is an opportunity for us to care about what has happened and is happening with your training. There have been many positive signs that things are well and truly getting back on track after the pandemic. There are indications of adaptation to what has become of the new normal and it is great to hear challenges being faced, overcome and progress being made. The follow up will commence in the New Year. Supported with the evidence provided by ARP, we can continue the work of assisting those that have identified individual queries and investigate needs for improvement in the programme.

In the meantime enjoy the festive season where you are able, as something I hope you can look forward to.


Information for trainees

Annual review of progression

We are continuing to review and prepare outcomes from this year’s annual review of progression (ARP) with the outcomes shared with trainees and their supervisors in early January 2024.

We would like to thank everyone for their active engagement with this process this year as it enables us to understand how trainees are managing in their training and offer support where there are issues affecting progression and completion of the programme.

We have been really pleased and encouraged to see so many trainees effectively managing their busy working lives with their training and study demands as we know this isn’t easy and want to congratulate all trainees, their supervisors and clinical and academic teams for their ongoing efforts to support their development.

Once we have released the outcomes we will be in contact with trainees where we have identified that support and advice from the School might be helpful or needed and will be working closely with our University colleagues to ensure trainees receive a collaborative response that considers both academic and workplace challenges. Where issues have been identified support will be available via two routes:

  1. Support call – this is optional and offered only if trainee feels it would be of benefit. If not, no further action is needed.
  2. Support meeting – this requires attendance by the trainee, training supervisor with one of the School’s Training Programme Directors and a representative from the University where appropriate. Other members of the School may also attend to provide subject matter expertise depending on the issues impacting on the individual’s progress.

Click here for more information about annual review of progression

Completion of the OneFile e-portfolio

Before the end of the programme all HSST trainees are required to have been signed off against all of the Higher Specialist Scientist Standards of Proficiency.

Whilst OneFile sign off to 100% is not expected until towards the end of the programme, this is not the same thing as leaving work on the standards of proficiency until the final year. Those that, for a variety of reasons, have taken this approach have faced challenges in completing the HSST. The five years on the programme are time and space to work up to attaining those standards. The HSST is a development programme and some of the activities to demonstrate capability against the Standards may occur in stages and may take some planning. Engaging with these activities and experiences and collecting the evidence to demonstrate them occurs throughout the programme. Frequently or regularly uploading the evidence on to OneFile and engaging in conversation with or submission to your workplace supervisor is good practice in much the same way CPD is recorded.

The target indicated in HSST OneFile profiles is a percentage of time on the funded 5 years of the HSST programme. It is not a target for OneFile sign off. This is why a relatively low percentage sign off is sometimes present until the final year. The percentage sign off doesn’t capture all the work you have done in planning and identifying activities and sources of evidence, uploading them on to OneFile to be ready for submission to your work place supervisors.

A lot of emphasis is placed on planning for HSST. It fulfils a number of purposes. One important function is when things don’t go to plan. A training plan is a way of noticing this early and easily understanding what the impact is or will be and what mitigating actions need to be taken. It is also a way of quickly highlighting the impact of challenges you are facing to others, perhaps lay reviewers as part of Trainee Management Panel and therefore can support the justification of a request for mitigation. At this ARP we asked how progress against the Standards of Proficiency would be evidenced if it was required. As a record of completed and planned activities mapped to the Standards of Proficiency, many of you identified the easiest way to demonstrate this progress would be referring to an up-to-date, high-level training plan.

Independent Assessment of Professional Practice (IAPS)

Trainees in the Physical, Physiological and Bioinformatics Sciences in their 5th year of training should be preparing for the Independent Assessment of Professional Practice (IAPS).

On an initial timeline, without interruptions, the first opportunity to sit an IAPS is in the May of the fifth year. The second is in the November of the sixth year and the third is in the May of the sixth year. This is based on an initial uninterrupted timeline. Dates and guidance on these exams are available on the School’s website.

Those planning for IAPS are reminded they should be aiming to complete all of their e-portfolio and submitting their showcase at least 3 months in advance of sitting the exams. These timelines need to be factored into overall training planning.

Click here for more information about the Independent Assessment of Professional Skills (IAPS)

Applying for a certificate of completion

When you have completed all your required elements for HSST you can apply for a certificate of completion.

This must be received before your completion deadline. For trainees in the Physical, Physiological and Bioinformatics Sciences, to apply for a certificate of completion you must have successfully completed the IAPS. For those HSSTs, we have noted some candidates indicating they plan to sit an IAPS after their completion deadline. This is not possible.

NIHR pre-application support fund

Are you thinking about applying for NIHR funding? Applications require a lot of preparatory thinking and work to ensure the best chance for success. The Pre-Application Support Fund is a new scheme providing extra support to those who need it to enhance their chances of making a successful application to an NIHR career development scheme in the future.

The current round for this support fund is open and more details are available at link below. There will be successive rounds of this funding to a total of three times a year. It could be worth considering if you had a project in mind and just needed some time and space to develop it into an application. It may seem a little strange to apply to get time to apply for something else, but this is intended as a lighter touch application to support the development of a significant application. Investing in ensuring the best possible applications go to the panels for funding decisions, improves the chances of funding the best possible research.

Click here for more information about the NIHR pre-application support fund


Information for supervisors

Learning resources on the NHS Learning Hub

To support you to develop the knowledge and skills associated with the School’s recently published training standards, we are developing a suite of short training resources within the NHS Learning Hub. These are not mandatory and are meant to support you in your own professional development as a trainer, irrespective of the programme.

To access the NHS Learning Hub you will need to have an account with the service. The details on how to do this can be found within the training standards pages on our website, linked to below.

The following modules are already available on the NHS Learning Hub. Please click on the links to access them:

Modules coming soon:

  • Planning for learning and assessment
  • Strategies for managing many trainees at once
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Developing coaching skills
  • Developing as a mentor
  • Explore opportunities in practice to embed EDI
  • The principles of differentiated and adaptive practice
  • Embedding the NHS values into training
  • Approaches to learning
  • Andragogy and pedagogy
  • Motivation and learning
  • Evaluating your own practice
  • Supporting neurodivergent trainees with their training
  • Developing evidence to demonstrate proficiency in work-based training

If you would like training on a specific topic and it does not appear amongst the NHS Learning Hub resources (already available or proposed), please contact the School’s Education Training Manager Sally Clee at as we are keen to ensure that the offering is responsive to the needs of trainers, assessors and educators.

Click here for the training standards and their associated support resources


Missed a previous edition of the HSST Monthly Memo?

We’ve published copies of the Monthly Memo for HSST trainees and training officers on our website.

Click here to view previous editions of the HSST Monthly Memo.

Last updated on 12th February 2024

This publication is part of HSST Monthly Memo (2023)