Becoming a Clinical Scientist: Route 2

The AHCS Certificate of Equivalence is an approved route to HCPC statutory registration as a Clinical Scientist. This equivalence pathway, or route 2, is designed for professionals who have education and experience that is considered equivalent to one of the accredited Scientist Training Programmes (STP). A full list of relevant disciplines can be found here.

Those whose specialisms fall outside of that list may access an equivalence route to HCPC registration as a Clinical Scientist or Biomedical Scientist through the Association of Clinical Scientists or the Institute of Biomedical Sciences.

We tweeted about the rationale for becoming a Clinical Scientist. You can read the post here. Campbell, Robinson & Rana published a very useful article on “The evolution from cardiac physiologists to clinical scientists in the UK: a guide to attaining equivalence” in Echo Research and Practice in 2019.

The AHCS equivalence process has 4 stages and at the end of each stage there are three possible outcomes; progress to next stage, further information needed, or reject application. We have outlined the stages here for information but please check the AHCS website for the most up-to-date version.

Stage 1 – Initial Application

This preliminary stage includes registering on the AHCS website, uploading relevant documentation and paying the application fee (currently £350).

Initial documents include:

  • Certified identification (proof of change if name)
  • Career details and qualifications (certificates required)
  • DBS check (in date)
  • Two references – 1 from line manager and 1 with HCPC or GMC registration
  • English language ability if not UK citizen
  • Personal statement

The personal statement is a summary of professional experience, responsibilities and current and past research which can include service development projects and audits (<1000 words).

Stage 2 – Portfolio

Once your initial application is approved you have 6 months to submit a portfolio of evidence mapped to the good scientific practice (GSP) standards. If you are considering applying for equivalence, familiarising yourself with this document should be a priority.

The 5 domains of good scientific practice are:

  • Professional Practice
  • Scientific Practice
  • Clinical Practice
  • Research Development and Innovation
  • Clinical Leadership

Full details of the portfolio requirements can be found on the AHCS website in the Applicants Guide to STP Equivalence. The portfolio should be written in the style of a covering report and comprises of; contents list, summary, completed good scientific practice mapping template and supporting evidence.

The summary which accompanies the evidence will detail how your education, skills and experience match the standards within each good scientific practice domain. While you will not map your evidence against the STP outcomes, you should familiarise yourself with the curriculum and have this in your mind when selecting evidence because it guides the breadth and depth of evidence needed.

We recommend that you pay particular attention to the core and rotational elements of the programme which might not have been part of your own education.

Stage 3 – Interview

Typically the interview is conducted via video-conferencing software and takes 30 – 60 minutes. The interview panel consists of two professional assessors and one lay assessor who chairs the panel. Each assessor will ask a number of questions that cover the GSP domains.

There are three possible outcomes:

  • Applicant has demonstrated knowledge and should be awarded Certificate of Equivalence
  • Applicant may be able to demonstrate equivalence but more evidence is required
  • Applicant has not demonstrated equivalence

Stage 4 – Ratification

All AHCS equivalence outcomes go through an internal ratification by the AHCS Education and Training Committee before the results are released formally.

Looking for more information?

The following presentation was prepared for Cardiac Physiologists at Barts Health NHS Trust and has been kindly shared by Solange Fernandes, James Malcolmson and Nolan Stain.

Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.

Mae Jemison