I am Sarah Williams, a final year trainee in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on the Scottish Medical Physics training scheme, specialising in Imaging with Ionising Radiation. I am also the current Chair for the Scottish Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering Trainee Network. I often meet prospective trainees and those that have never heard about our training scheme, so in this blog, I wanted to answer our most frequently asked questions about the training schemes and our trainee network!
How did you hear about the Scottish Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering training scheme?
After taking my first steps into a Nuclear Medicine department, I just knew I had to be a clinical scientist in Medical Physics. During my undergraduate degree, I had heard all about the Scientist Training Programme (STP) and had convinced myself that I would move south of the border to complete my training and get HCPC registration. However, during an undergraduate Master’s project, working within Nuclear Cardiology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, I was surprised to learn that there was an alternative! The Medical Physicists in the department told me all about the equivalence programme that is run in Scotland, the Scottish Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering Training Scheme.
Typically, where are the advertised training posts and when are they advertised?
Each year, around 6 trainees are appointed onto the Medical Physics training scheme in Scotland with posts in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. There are usually another two or three posts for Clinical Engineering trainees who complete their training in Glasgow or Edinburgh. The training scheme advert is usually posted in January with interviews in April and a starting date in September. To find out when the posts will be advertised, please see the following link: https://www.nes.scot.nhs.uk/education-and-training/by-discipline/healthcare-science/all-healthcare-science/clinical-scientists.aspx
What are the main differences between the Scottish training scheme and STP?
This training scheme is similar to STP with some slight changes and has been approved by the National School for Healthcare Science. The biggest difference is that our training is carried out over three and half years, giving trainees extra time to complete a 3 – 6 month long innovation project during the specialism year. The innovation project encourages trainees to lead a research or service development project in their field of choice and gives them the opportunity to be innovative and introduce new techniques or technologies into the NHS. The innovation project also helps the trainee to develop a range of research and leadership skills that they can apply in their future careers as Clinical Scientists.
Each branch of the training scheme has an appropriate MSc course and the schemes cover the same rotations as set out in STP. The scheduling of the training schemes are also different as the first year of our training is dedicated to a year-long MSc in Medical Physics or Clinical Engineering which includes a 4 month Masters project. This first year allows for the trainee to develop their knowledge before going into the foundation rotations. The second year is solely dedicated to the four main foundation rotations, each 10 to 12 weeks long. During these rotations, the trainee has the opportunity to experience each of the departments and complete small projects throughout their placements. The specialism stage is then carried out over one and a half years (including a 3-6 month innovation project).
During the specialism year, the trainee produces a portfolio of evidence following the Good Scientific Practice competencies which fulfils the requirements of the equivalence training but also teaches the trainee the vital skills required of a Clinical Scientist in the NHS.
How is your training scheme assessed?
In the first year, the trainees complete an MSc which includes university examinations and coursework. The MSc also includes a 4 month long MSc project which is assessed as a dissertation, technical poster, presentation and viva.
During the foundation year, trainees complete a foundation portfolio, containing evidence of work and any research carried out in each of the four rotations. Each trainee must then complete the “Mid-Way Quality Assurance” viva at the end of the foundation year. This viva is a check of both the training scheme itself and the trainee’s progress before they move into their specialism.
For formal assessment, during the specialism year, an application is made to the Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS) and this application is assessed to ensure the trainee has all required qualifications and experience to apply through the equivalence route. Once approved, the trainees have six months to complete and submit a portfolio of evidence. The portfolio of evidence is assessed against Good Scientific Practice (GSP). If the portfolio is approved, the trainee can proceed to an equivalence viva through AHCS. If successful, the trainee is awarded with a Certificate of Equivalence from AHCS which is recognised by HCPC and therefore, a successful equivalence viva allows for the trainee to gain HCPC registration and become a registered Clinical Scientist (finally!).
What is the Scottish Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering Trainee Network?
In Scotland, the trainees have created the Scottish Trainee Network and I am currently Chair of the network. All of the trainees meet three times a year, including the annual general meeting. The trainees meet to discuss any training issues, share ideas and each event usually includes presentations and CPD sessions to help the trainees fulfil their GSP competencies. At each of the meetings, trainees also have the opportunity to organise teaching and outreach events and network with other trainees and supervisors from around Scotland.
The network itself has successfully created trainee handbooks for the new trainees in both Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering which explains all about the equivalence route through the Academy of Healthcare Science and the different elements of the training scheme.
The trainee network focuses on developing the training scheme and enhancing our skills as clinical scientists in the NHS. A representative of the network is invited to contribute to senior meetings such as the training scheme steering group and the Scottish Medical Physics Network (MP-NET). At each event, our trainees have the opportunity to present and showcase the interesting work that they have been carrying out. The network also organised its first patient and public outreach event in March this year, where all of the trainees were invited to present to the public about their work as Clinical Scientists in the NHS.
Recently, the network has created their own trainee network webpage that is used as a resource for trainees around Scotland to access documents and is also a great resource for prospective trainees. For more information about the Scottish Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering training schemes or the Scottish Trainee Network then please visit our webpage: https://www.smpetn.scot.nhs.uk/.