Healthcare science education and training


10 / 9 / 2015 11.30am

Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) continues to improve the education and development of the healthcare science workforce, ensuring it is structured to allow for future developments in service delivery and to maximise the benefits of new scientific and technological advances. 

In doing so, it is addressing some of the historic difficulties within the healthcare science workforce. For instance, by replacing the large number of routes to education and training which made pathways unclear and difficult for individuals, with a clear framework of education pathways and workforce development. 

Career pathway

 Click on the links below to find out more about the training routes for:

Underpinning the training routes for the above healthcare science roles is the development of structured career progression at every point within the career framework. Find out more about Accredited Scientific Practice (ASP) in the section below.

Healthcare science assistants and associates

These roles lead to employment on levels 1-4 of the career framework. Work is underway to create a national learning and development framework that will provide national curricula for assistants and associates, enabling a clear route to progress to practitioner level training. The new modular framework including curriculum, qualifications and learning structure for healthcare assistant and associates will provide flexibility, progression and transferability of skills for entry into science careers and career development. Find out more in our Healthcare science assistants and associates section.

Healthcare science practitioner

The Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) (undergraduates) is a three-year BSc (Hons) with academic and work-based components. PTP leads to employment at level 5 of the career framework. A practitioner level accredited practice programme is currently in development which will allow for the development of practitioners as part of their employment without the requirement to advance to scientist level. More information is available on our Healthcare science practitioner workforce page. 

Clinical scientist

The Scientist Training Programme (STP) (postgraduates) is MPET funded and recruited to through a national process run by the National School of Healthcare Science. It is a three year paid programme with academic and workplace based components leading to an MSc and certificate of achievement. STP leads to employment at level 6 of the career framework. 

Employers considering offering STP placements should contact their local science lead to discuss the recruitment process. Trusts need to consider their ability to deliver placements to trainees and ensure posts provide a range of development opportunities which match the work-based training curriculum.  Visit our Clinical scientist workforce page for more information. 

Consultant clinical scientist

Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) consists of a five year workplace based training programme, similar to medical consultant training underpinned by a doctoral level programme. 

The National School of Healthcare Science coordinates the recruitment process to HSST programmes which commenced in 2014.  A detailed description of the HSST programme and its development is available in Scaling the Heights: an overview of Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) in Healthcare Science. Details of the HSST curricula can be found at NHS Networks.

There are also some helpful FAQs on the recruitment process for applicants on the NHS Careers website. Visit our Consultant clinical scientist workforce page for more information. 

Accredited Scientific Practice (ASP) Programmes

Underpinning the training routes detailed above is the development of structured career progression at every point within the career framework. 

Accredited Scientific Practice (ASP) courses are gradually becoming available and have two aspects; academic learning and the assessment of workplace-based competencies. They provide employers with a route to developing the specialist skills of your workforce in line with patient and local service needs. 

ASP programmes give the healthcare science workforce an opportunity to undertake further specialist training as part of their employment, gaining specialist skills through a formal programme of continuing professional development without the requirement to advance to the next level of the career framework (e.g. healthcare science practitioner to clinical scientist).

Project groups are continuing to develop curricula, working with professional bodies to develop online assessment content and formalise proposals. Initially, the development of programmes will be determined by both workforce and employer need. 

The levels of ASP are:

  • Accredited Additional Scientific Practice (AASP) at bachelor level 
  • Accredited Specialist Scientific Practice (ASSP) at masters level 
  • Accredited Expert Scientific Practice (AESP) at doctoral level

ASP courses

Further information, including guidance can be found on the Health Education England website.  

National School of Healthcare Science

The role of the National School of Healthcare Science is to support trainees through their training programmes, ensuring high standards of education and training, clear and fair assessments and appropriate professional recognition of competency at the end of the course. The school also supports departments and staff providing training and helps to maintain consistency and standards through quality assurance of training courses along with overseeing a national system of assessment.

Find out more on our National School of Healthcare Science page. 

The Academy for Healthcare Science

The Academy for Healthcare Science is a UK wide organisation responsible for supporting the development of consistent regulation for the HCS workforce and implementing a system of equivalence.  

Further information can be found on our Academy for Healthcare Science page.

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