Scientist Training Programme in Andrology
The Scientific Training Programme (STP) is a scheme introduced by the NHS as part of the Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) programme to train clinical scientists. Up until now reproductive science has come under the one specialism however from 2017 they will be running Andrology under its own specialism providing a training route as a Clinical Scientist in Andrology.
As a committee we want to support our members by providing you with all the information needed. This information will be useful to those looking to further their career in Andrology, potential STP applicants and centres wishing to host STP trainees.
What is the STP?
The STP is a full-time work based training programme that incorporates part time studies. The duration of training is 3 years with the trainee being awarded a Masters Degree in Clinical Science. Upon completion the trainee will also receive a Certificate of Completion of the Scientist Training Programme (CCSTP) by the National School of HCS (NSHCS). Graduates are also eligible to apply to the Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS) for a Certificate of Attainment and will then be eligible to apply to HCPC for registration as a Clinical Scientist.
Within andrology, you’d be focusing on the field of male reproduction. This could include:
- spermatogenesis (the process of sperm cell development)
- semen analyses
- sperm function
- cryopreservation (preserving tissues by cooling them to sub-zero temperatures)
Who can apply for the STP?
There are currently two entry points into the andrology STP:
- You can enter andrology as a graduate
With a relevant honours degree at a minimum of a 2:1 classification (or a 2:2 with appropriate postgraduate qualifications), you can apply for a place on the graduate entry NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). Because of the extensive variation in degrees available it isn’t possible to provide a definitive list of relevant degrees for entry to the STP. The most commonly accepted degrees will be in biomedical sciences, biology, microbiology, genetics or biochemistry however if you would like to discuss your qualifications please contact us.
At this level we also recommend that interested applicants take up voluntary work experience within an andrology laboratory. This will give you an insight of what to expect in a career in andrology before going through the application process.
- You could also enter andrology as a registered and experienced biomedical scientist.
- More information to follow
What does the training involve?
Over the duration of the 3 year course trainees will enrol in part-time education whilst carrying out full-time employment under a fixed-term, salaried training post.
STP Trainees are subject to continuous assessment, recorded on the National School for Healthcare Science OLAT – Online Learning and Assessment Tool. STP Trainees must complete specified rotations in their STP theme, pass the relevant Clinical Science MSc and pass their Objective Final Structured Assessment.
Trainees will be based in Manchester for 6 weeks in the first year and 3 weeks in the second and third years.
Rotational year: In the first year, trainees will complete four work-based training rotations in four disciplines: Histopathology, Cytopathology, Genetics and Reproductive Science. Trainees have 12 weeks to complete each rotation. For the reproductive science rotation, the trainee will remain in their host department, the main element of their training at this point will be diagnostic semen analysis. The other rotations may require trainees to travel to other parts of the country in order for them to complete the associated competencies for the rotations. Rotational competencies will make up part of the trainees online portfolio.
YEAR 2 AND 3
The trainee remains in their host department for further specialist training in andrology
Each trainee must undertake elective training which must be in a setting different from the usual training environment. The elective period must be agreed with the host department and may comprise a single period of 4- 6 weeks or a series of shorter periods. This should facilitate a wider experience of health care and can involve study abroad.
A major component of the STP MSc is the completion of a research project. The subject of the project will be decided by the work bases supervisor and it should be at the level and depth of masters level. The project will be split between the second and third year of study.
How do I apply for a STP training position?
England/Wales: Those looking to apply for a training position within England or Wales can apply for a position here. Vacancies are usually released late January.
Scotland: Those looking for a training position within Scotland can apply for a position here. Vacancies are usually posted anytime between January and September so regular checks are advised.
How does the application process work?
England/Wales: Applicants are required to make an ORIEL account to undergo the application process. The application will require personal, academic, work experience, employment and equality and diversity details. You will also be required to complete a set of questions to demonstrate your suitability, understanding and motivation for applying to the programme. You will then complete online aptitude tests in logic and mathematics.
If your test score is within the required threshold your application will be put forward for shortlisting. However, if your score is below the threshold then you will be notified that your application will not progress any further.
Applicants who successfully pass the shortlisting stage will be invited to interview. Please note if you are an ‘in-service‘ applicant you will go straight through to interview, as you are already employed in a post that will become your training post if you are successful.
The interview process involves 4 stations where applicants will be interviewed on the following areas;
- General aptitude for science and understanding of scientific services in society
- Specialism specific questions to assess scientific knowledge and skill
- Values and behaviour
- Leadership and management with a focus on potential
Scotland: The application route in Scotland follows the NHS Scotland recruitment process. This requires the applicant to fill out the NHS Scotland application form followed by an interview if successful at the shortlisting stage.
The interview panel is usually made up of staff from the hospital you are applying for. This will normally include the laboratory director/manager and other senior members of the scientific team. Interviews normally last around 30 minutes with the content varying between locations. Examples of what to expect in an STP interview include; short power point presentation, dexterity test, interview style questions which can include scientific based questions and observational tests. You should be informed prior to the interview on what areas you will be tested on but if you require more information contact the NHS board you are applying to.
Do I receive a salary during my training?
Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. As a healthcare scientist working in andrology, your salary will typically be between AfC bands 6-9, depending on the precise role and level of responsibility. Trainee clinical scientists train at band 6 level, and qualified clinical scientists are generally appointed at band 7.
This can vary for in-service applicants and for employers outside the NHS.
Will I receive financial support for the duration of the STP?
Funding to support travel and accommodation at university or other events may be available. However, such funding is at the discretion of the employer and may be subject to local availability.
Who will train me?
Each trainee is allocated a clinical training officer at their host clinic who will oversee his/her training – the training officer can be a head of department, a senior member of staff or training coordinator. The training officer will often be involved in organising the training for each trainee however may not necessarily be doing the hands on practical training in the laboratory. In these cases the training officer will be responsible for identifying an appropriate supervisor. As a minimum the practical training must be completed by a HCPC registered Clinical Scientist. Where possible anyone involved in the training of an STP trainee should go to a Train the Trainer event. Alternatively a representative from each clinic can attend and then provide cascade training locally.
The training officer or nominated supervisor will be involved in providing support and guidance to the trainee, provide timetables of training where necessary, ensure that the work based assessments/competencies and the masters research project are understood and that its outcomes for individual trainees is documented through the use of the online portfolio system (OLAT), they will ensure that clinical practice is well supervised for the safety of patients and the trainee so that the acquisition of clinical competence is facilitated and ensure that other contributors to the assessment process are fully aware of the requirements and the use of the OLAT portfolio. Resources such as template training plans and end of month review templates as well as more detailed information about training roles can be found on the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) “Accreditation for Work Based Providers” webpage. The NSHCS has also developed a “Helpbook for Training Centres”.
During my training will I be required to work weekend, out-of-hours and be on-call during my training?
The NSHCS states that they “…would not actively encourage trainees to participate continuously in weekend/out of hours working, however good experience may be gained from out of hours work.” The NSHCS goes on to say that “The concern would be the potential impact this might have on the training during the remainder of the working week.”