To say that my first year on the STP hasn’t quite been what I expected is probably an understatement. After two plain-sailing rotations I (along with the rest of the country) was catapulted into a different world where fusilli became worth its weight in gold and where the word ‘unprecedented’ became incredibly triggering. My genomics rotation, which I had just started, was suspended and my final rotation – well, who knows. The HFEA, the government’s regulator for fertility treatments, contacted clinics asking them to not start any new treatments and to complete any ongoing treatments by 15th April 2020. Because of this, I found myself back in my hometown and adjusting to living with my parents again. With no microscopes or pipettes in sight, I had to turn my attention to exam revision and completing whichever competencies I could, usually with the help of a lot of Google searching. The nature of a lockdown means that the luxury of distraction is denied to you, which leaves you lot of time to peruse the thoughts in your own head…
It was Spring of 2020 and time to go on my first rotational placement of the STP; the informatics team of a private healthcare company. Throughout my career I have worked in the public sector, so this placement was a great chance to gain an insight into the corporate world of the private sector.
The Scientist Training Programme is an incredibly competitive programme that will challenge you and provide you with a vast amount of knowledge and incredible experiences – you have worked very hard to get here and you should be very proud!
Take a minute just to think about what you’ve achieved already!
You’re about to embark on your new career as a trainee clinical scientist, maybe you’ve never had a full time job before, perhaps you’re new to the NHS, or maybe you’ve just moved roles in the NHS. I’m sure everyone is facing some level of uncertainty with what’s to come and what it looks like to be a trainee on the STP. I have compiled a list of my top tips for how to approach the next few months to help you out!
Dear trainees, training officers and fellow clinical scientists,
After three years of competencies and never ending acronyms, we have finished the STP (hopefully successfully but we shall see). Both of us have successfully interviewed and accepted positions as clinical bioinformaticians in our host departments and will soon be calling ourselves Clinical Scientists. The new title has come with increased responsibility and an exponentially growing amount of work.
My day-dream version of the “perfect 1st year” of the STP is calm, controlled, and organised – just how I like my life to work! *Cue dream sequence music and a way dissolve into my STP fantasy* My OneFile portfolio is at (or even ahead of) the target progression, my Manchester university exams went ahead as normal (and I did amazingly), I’ve finished my first year rotations by the end of the first year and I’ve just returned back to my host department ready to remind everyone who I am and get learning on my specialist rotations.
Dear Professor Berne Ferry and Professor Dame Sue Hill,
The recent tragic events in the United States and the strength of the Black Lives Matter movement globally and in the UK, have sparked a shared momentum of reflection within ourselves and our society. As many individuals look introspectively during this time, doing the difficult work of acknowledging and unlearning their personal biases and prejudices, we must also take a critical look at the institutional systems we operate within.
What’s it like returning to university for the STP?
The STP is a blended program of academic study towards an MSc Clinical Sciences and hands on work, designed to teach you the theory behind your job and how to do it at the same time, as well as developing you into a well rounded clinical scientist.
One of my favourite things about the STP is the huge range of backgrounds people have. With regards to university some STPs will come from undergraduate study, others will come from PhDs and some will come after being away from formal education for a long time. As individuals, some come with families, others with long term health problems, others move cross country to study on the STP, but what everyone brings is their unique experience and knowledge. This creates quite a mix of people with different skills, commitments and fears about undertaking postgraduate study at university.
The ‘independent assessment of clinical competence’ is a critical reflection of our training experience and how it has prepared us to practice as clinical scientists. Since earlier this week I shared my thought piece on the IACC, I thought it might be more useful to share some tips I’ve gathered from various resources on critical reflection. I am going to tailor this post to applying critical reflection to the IACC, but please note: I don’t have any more information about it than what has been shared by NSHCS! So, when I offer my opinion on what the examiner might be looking for, please don’t take this as gospel; it is just my opinion.
Acronyms. The STP is full of ’em: DOPS, OCES, CBD, NSHCS, OSFA.
If you haven’t heard of the IACC by now, have you been living under a rock?! (I wouldn’t blame you to be fair- it’s probably better than everything going on in the world right now). But for those of you who haven’t, the IACC is the ‘independent assessment of clinical competence’ and the official replacement of the 2020 OSFAs. Yes, an essay- but not just an essay- a critical reflection. If you’d have told me 6 months ago that I would be writing an essay instead of facing the OSFAs in July 2020, I would’ve laughed in your face and said something like ‘Yeah, I wish’. But now that I’m really not sitting the OSFAs next month I feel a bit like I’ve had something taken away from me. I’ve got a lot of thoughts about the cancellation, our replacement assessment and the altered STP completion requirements, so bear with me while I apparently work my way through them on a public blog post.