Routes to Registration Overview
The new training schemes that came about through the ‘Modernising Scientific Careers’ (MSC) programme represented a seismic change in the way that Embryologists and Andrologists are trained in the UK. They aim to standardise the training of Clinical Scientists and Biomedical Scientists in all disciplines in the UK and, for the first time, to allow a direct and clear comparison with clear equivalence between the training and qualifications of scientists in the health service and medical doctors.
The information given by ARCS aims to provide a straightforward overview of the different routes to registration for employees in HFEA licensed assisted conception centres and diagnostic andrology laboratories who have members of staff training towards becoming a Clinical Scientist or Healthcare Science Practitioner.
As per the HFEA Code of Practice (CoP) all Clinical Scientists working in licensed clinics should be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) or working towards registration with the HCPC. Staff should be registered with the HCPC within one year of becoming eligible including those eligible as international applicants after training overseas (HFEA CoP, 9th Edition, para 2.18).
There are currently four appropriate routes to registration for staff working at the level of Clinical Scientist.
One route via the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS)
One route via the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS)
Two routes via the Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS)
Upon successful completion, all of these routes allow applicants to go on to register with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) to obtain Clinical Scientist status. Further details can be found in the “Routes to Registration as a Clinical Scientist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)” section below.
There are currently two appropriate routes to registration for staff working at the level of Healthcare Science Practitioner. Further details can be found in the “Routes to Registration as a Healthcare Science Practitioner” section below.
Routes to Registration as a Clinical Scientist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)
1) National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) Certificate of Completion of the Scientist Training Programme (CCSTP).
Trainees that complete the Scientist Training Programme (STP) in either Embryology or Andrology will obtain a Certificate of Completion from the NSHCS. These certificates are awarded to applicants who have completed all parts of the STP course including the Masters degree, e-portfolio and the Independent Assessment of Clinical Competence (IACC). Receipt of the CCSTP allows applicants to apply to register as a Clinical Scientist with HCPC. This process begins automatically, so it is important that trainee personal details (email, physical address, any surname changes) are up-to-date, otherwise delays can occur when the data is shared between the NSHCS and HCPC.
2) Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) Certificate of Equivalence Scientist Training Programme.
Registration with the HCPC can be obtained via an equivalence assessment process undertaken by the AHCS, ARCS has nominated AHCS assessors for this purpose. Briefly, the applicant will need to demonstrate that their knowledge, skills, behaviours and experience are equivalent to those achieved on the Scientist Training Programme (STP). Applicants should familiarise themselves with the contents of documentation relating to standards of Good Scientific Practice (GSP), and the specialist curriculum of the Scientist Training Programme (STP). Evidence will be provided via a portfolio submitted on the AHCS’ online portal. There is no requirement for any formal qualification but applicants must demonstrate they meet the all the STP learning outcomes including those of the rotations. If rotations are not completed the applicant must show evidence of self-directed learning.
The AHCS do not prescribe a specific length of training to confer equivalence, although applicants should note that graduates from the STP programme will complete three years of Masters level (EQF level 7) education including a minimum of 90 weeks integrated workplace training, and it is unlikely that periods of experience substantially less than this will be deemed adequate.
Applications for the Certificate of Equivalence are considered in three stages, the preliminary (screening) application, preparing the portfolio and the assessment stage. In the preliminary stage, the applicant’s basic qualifications and experience is reviewed through a 1000 word summary of experience and professional references. Once applicants have been approved for portfolio submission, a portfolio must be submitted within six months of the approval date, except in exceptional and pre-arranged circumstances. All portfolios are made against outcomes set out in Good Scientific Practice (GSP) and therefore portfolios are presented mapped against the requirements of GSP. The portfolio should not be mapped to the STP curricula but the STP curricula should inform you what evidence should be supplied, as assessors will be using the STP curricula to ensure learning outcomes are met. It is therefore recommended that those applying study the STP curriculum and ensure their training and experiences cover the outcomes. The portfolio may contain evidence including but not limited to education and training or employment/experience. If the portfolio is assessed as complete the candidate will be invited for an interview that will normally last between 30 and 60 minutes and may be conducted face-to-face or using video-conferencing. Applicants should expect to answer questions from any of the five (GSP) Domains, their own portfolio content and any other relevant specialist topics.
Further details, such as an applicant’s guide to STP equivalence which gives examples of types of acceptable evidence, the GSP equivalence evidence mapping template and anonymous example of an AHCS portfolio can be found on the AHCS website. The AHCS is happy to receive emails from any applicant who needs help with any aspects of the application process.
3) Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS) Certificate of Attainment.
ACS Route One
Registration via Route One is for those who have successfully completed or are completing an ACS constituent member professional body approved formal pre-registrant clinical scientist training role (e.g. ACE Certificate) and have other relevant experience working as a pre-registered clinical scientist supervised by a GMC or HCPC registered clinical scientist (or a supervisor approved by the ACS Board on request). This experience should comprise at least three years of relevant full time work in total i.e. the ACE Certificate and 3 years’ experience from the date the Certificate was started. To gain the Certificate of Attainment via this route a portfolio of evidence outlining your training and experience must be submitted to substantiate that you meet all the competences laid down by the ACS. Once the portfolio is accepted you will be invited for interview to discuss the application for the ACS Certificate of Attainment. The ACS website can provide further information such as a list of competencies and an example portfolio for those candidates considering applying through this route.
ACS Route Two
For those who may not have completed the formal training associated with Route ONE, but have extensive experience in the relevant field you can obtain the ACS Certificate of Attainment via ROUTE 2. Applications will be accepted with no restriction concerning the length of experience claimed, i.e. the “six year” rule no longer applies. However the competencies that have to be demonstrated remain unchanged and are the same as ROUTE 1 as well as the rules for supervision. The ACS feel it unlikely that assessors will be satisfied with less than 4 years’ experience and it is vital that this includes sufficient clinical exposure in a working environment. The remaining experience may be taken from time working towards completing a relevant PhD or MSc, or work as a Biomedical Scientist with appropriate experience. The process is similar to ROUTE 1 but it is likely that more information gathering will be required because portions of the training and experience cannot be summed up in completing any formal training Programme. The ACS website can provide further information such as a list of competencies.
Routes to Registration as a Healthcare Science Practitioner or Biomedical Scientist and information on Practitioners in Reproductive Science.
It is important to understand the meaning of a “Healthcare Science Practitioner.” This is a person who is registered with the Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS), either through completion of the accredited practitioner training degrees (PTP) or through equivalence assessment via the AHCS to the outcome of a PTP degree. Please note there is no such thing as a PTP training scheme for reproductive science. The PTP is an undergraduate training scheme applied for via UCAS or can be completed as part of a level 6 healthcare science degree apprenticeship. It includes NHS work-based professional training placements and academic learning. Whilst on the programme students will complete an accredited BSc in Healthcare Science and will be eligible for statutory regulation with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as biomedical scientists. If PTP students specialize in cellular science they will have completed a module in reproductive science however will not have had any hands-on training in an IVF unit. Further information on apprenticeships is available on the UK Government website.
A healthcare science practitioner is different from being a “Practitioner in Reproductive Science”. These individuals are either trained or in training to carry out practical tasks in licensed centres, currently using “in house” training. In line with other Practitioners, these individuals cannot undertake clinical decision making. For example, a suitably trained Practitioner could undertake sperm preparation but could not decide whether ICSI or IVF was appropriate.
Experienced practitioners who have been trained in house should apply for registration now, by one of two possible routes:
1) Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) Certificate of Equivalence Practitioner Training Programme.
Registration with the Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS) as a Healthcare Science Practitioner can be obtained through completion of the AHCS Certificate of Equivalence with the Practitioner Training Programme (PTP). The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has accredited the AHCS Register for Healthcare Science Practitioners who are not regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). By registering via this route, with the AHCS, it shows commitment to maintaining standards of education, competence and conduct providing assurance for employers, patients and the public. This process allows for those in our existing workforce, trained “in house” who are working as a Reproductive Science Practitioners or a Technologist to register. The fee for the equivalence process is currently £50. The AHCS do not prescribe a specific length of training to confer equivalence, although applicants should note that graduates from the PTP programme will complete three years of Bachelors level education including integrated workplace training, and it is unlikely that periods of experience substantially less than this will be deemed adequate.
Applications for the Certificate of Equivalence are considered in three stages, the preliminary (screening) application, preparing the portfolio, submission online and assessment of the portfolio. In the preliminary stage, the applicant’s basic qualifications and experience is reviewed through a 1000 word summary of experience and professional references. Once applicants have been approved for portfolio submission, a portfolio must be submitted within six months of the approval date, except in exceptional circumstances.
Applicants should familiarise themselves with all documentation relating to standards of Good Scientific Practice (GSP), AHCS Standards of Proficiency (SoP) and the specialist curriculum of the Practitioner Training Programme (PTP). Evidence will be provided via a portfolio submitted on the AHCS’ online portal. Portfolios are mapped against the requirements of the AHCS SoP. The portfolio should not be mapped to the PTP curricula but the PTP curricula should inform the evidence supplied, as assessors will be using the PTP curricula to ensure learning outcomes are met. It is therefore recommended that those applying, study the PTP curriculum and ensure their training and experiences cover the outcomes. The portfolio may contain evidence including but not limited to education and training or employment/experience. The portfolio must begin with a summary of the applicant’s training and experience to date. This must be written in the style of a covering report, and must not exceed 5000 words. The report must clearly indicate how competence has been developed, and both the report and the accompanying supporting evidence must be cross-referenced to the AHCS SoP. Once completed the portfolio is submitted online, if accepted as complete the portfolio will then be assessed and applicants informed of the result via a letter.
Further details, such as an applicant’s guide to PTP equivalence which gives examples of acceptable portfolio evidence, the GSP portfolio mapping template and PTP equivalence handbook can be found on The Academy of Healthcare Science website. The AHCS is happy to receive emails from any applicant who needs help with any aspects of the application process.
2) Institute of Biomedical Scientists (IBMS) Certificate of Competence by Equivalence.
The IBMS offers a HCPC approved route called “The Certificate of Competence by Equivalence (Biomedical Scientist)”. It is an award based on experiential learning acquired via academic qualifications and professional practice. To be eligible to become a HCPC registered Biomedical Scientist via this route an applicant must demonstrate there has been at least three years of autonomous professional practice related to biomedical science and experience that includes the routine analysis of specimens from patients to provide data for disease diagnosis and healthcare of the patient. An applicant must also have a minimum of a Bachelor Honours level qualification. The initial application will require the applicant to write a summary of professional experience and should contain a description of main duties currently undertaken and a brief summary of previous experience that is relevant to the application. A laboratory self-assessment form will also be required to demonstrate the applicant is working in a suitable training environment. If applicants are successful they are admitted to the programme and the IBMS Registration Equivalence Portfolio will be issued. The portfolio learning outcomes are mapped against the HCPC’s standards of proficiency for biomedical scientists. The portfolio of evidence must be submitted within 12 months of the approval date. Portfolio assessment will follow and if accepted a candidate interview of between 30-60 minutes will follow.
Successful completion of the process will entitle the candidate to an IBMS Certificate of Competence by Equivalence (Biomedical Scientist) for HCPC registration as a Biomedical Scientist.
You can find the IBMS Certificate of Competence by Equivalence (Biomedical Scientist) Programme Handbook, Programme Specification and Guidance for Applicant as well as further information on the IBMS website.