NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) England – open for applications

Susan Bird reports:

My colleague, Dr Lorna Dargan, at Newcastle University has highlighted that applications for the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) in England are now open until Monday 12th February 2018. For information about applications to Wales, please contact Christine Love.

STP is a three year training programme that includes work-based training whilst undertaking a part-time Master’s degree qualification with 23 specialisms recruiting in different locations. Following completion of this programme, you will be eligible to apply for clinical scientist posts.

Interested? Check out Lorna’s excellent advice:

  • There is a lot of guidance available online, including advice on applying, FAQs and important dates: http://www.nshcs.hee.nhs.uk/join-programme/nhs-scientist-training-programme
  • Don’t forget that, whilst applicants aren’t expected to have work experience in the NHS, it’s very helpful to go to an open day relevant to the specialism you have chosen.
  • Competition ratios (i.e. the number of direct applicants: the number of direct entry posts) for last year’s specialisms: microbiology, clinical immunology and histopathology & transfusion science headed 2017’s league table. However, high levels of competition in a specialism in 2017 don’t necessarily indicate high competition this year. This link gives ratios back to 2014 for comparison: http://www.nshcs.hee.nhs.uk/images/stp-recruitment/stp-competition-ratios-v2.0.pdf

And just to pick up on some questions that I am frequently asked…

Relevant degrees

The National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) does not offer a list of relevant degrees for the STP, but have made a list of suggestions depending on the specialism. Candidates need to do their very best to prove how their degree discipline relates to the specialism that they’re applying to. Students wishing to apply in future recruitment rounds might therefore want to choose research projects or work experience that will demonstrate their interest and experience in this area.

It’s worth noting that it’s particularly important for students applying to physiology and genetic counselling to have good interpersonal skills – physiologists are usually running tests on a person rather than on a sample, so anything they can do to demonstrate such skills will be really beneficial. Caring experience is essential for genetic counselling, and should be equivalent to 6 months’ full-time work. Any counselling experience or training should definitely be highlighted on the application.

MRes vs MSc

MRes and MSci degrees do not hold as much weight as a taught masters in the entry criteria, even though they are assessed at M-level in the same way as a taught masters.  If you are a student who has a 2:2 and wants to do the STP, you are best applying for an MSc, not an MRes. And for students doing a BSc with the option to extend to an MSci – the MSci is unlikely to put them in a better position than the BSc, and you may wish to try an MSc instead.

And finally…

The Careers Service can support you with the application process. You’ll find practice tests, including numerical and logical reasoning tests, in the Resources section on MyCareerHub under “Aptitude tests”.


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