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Scientist Training Programme (STP)

Scientist Training Programme 

As part of the Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) programme, a new graduate entry level training programme has been developed for healthcare scientists from autumn 2011.

About the training programme

The new national Scientist Training Programme (STP) is part of the wider changes that are happening to healthcare science education and is designed to train the healthcare scientists of the future. Recruitment into the programme will begin in January 2011 for the autumn 2011 intake of STP trainees.

NHS trusts, working in partnership with strategic health authorities (SHAs) and higher education institutions, will offer approximately 200 training posts in all three areas of healthcare science:

  • Life sciences
  • physics and engineering
  • physiological sciences

Successful candidates will join a three-year, fixed term, integrated training programme of workplace-based learning and a Master’s degree in their chosen specialism.

Trainees will be employed by a single NHS trust where they will be required to undertake a range of rotations, working in different departments (and possibly different trusts), before specialisation in the last two years of training. After this period of training, successful trainees will be in a position to apply for NHS posts as healthcare scientists and to the appropriate professional register.

The new scheme will help to ensure consistency across the country. There will be a single national timetable for recruitment, national guidelines for the conduct of selection interviews, and assessment centres to ensure all candidates are treated fairly and equally.

Science graduates will apply for the training posts through the NHS Jobs website, with short listing and selection processes organised and conducted by local trusts working in established scientific networks.

New scientific networks will be supported through grants to run assessment centres.

The scheme will be managed on behalf of all SHAs by NHS West Midlands. It replaces the previous Clinical Scientist Training Scheme.

Implications for employers


Employers offering placements as part of the STP should contact their healthcare science lead to discuss the recruitment process. Outline job descriptions have been developed and these should be amended to match the requirements of the training posts being offered.

A single core person specification has also been developed, which is central to maintaining consistency and fairness in the selection process. It should be used as the basis of selection at the short listing and assessment stages.

If trusts have previously employed healthcare scientists as part of the old clinical scientist training scheme, they may already have job descriptions and person specifications, which can be reviewed in light of MSC guidelines on core content and the learning outcomes.

Training placements

Trusts should consider their ability to deliver placements to trainees. A suitable post should provide a range of development opportunities that match the appropriate work-based training curriculum.

A training and support infrastructure should also be in place to ensure that trainees can complete the requirements of their training. This will mean the availability of experienced work-placed trainers who can supervise and assess the practice of trainees. Employers may need to work with other trusts to provide the full range of experience required and become part of a rotational programme.

Employers should contact their SHA for further guidance on the training of healthcare scientists.

If a trust wishes to offer a placement, they must inform their SHA so that funding can be arranged and compliance with the requirements for training can be checked.

Workforce planning for future healthcare scientists

Whilst planning for the 2011 intake has already taken place, trusts should consider the type of roles at this level which are required to deliver future services to patients. Workforce planners should work with the healthcare science workforce to identify the service requirements and feed this information into the regional plans. The SHA lead for healthcare science sharonharrison2@nhs.net should be able to support trusts in the planning process.

Information about the STP and a list of all training posts will be available on the NHS Careers website. Further details of individual posts will be available on the NHS Jobs website where candidates will be able to apply online.

Details will be on both websites in February 2011.