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FAQs


Section 1: Do I need to Register?



Section 2: Procedure for Statutory Registration



Section 3: Criteria for Obtaining the ACS Certificate of Attainment



Section 4: Procedure for Obtaining the ACS Certificate of Attainment



Section 5: Costs



Section 6: Miscellaneous Areas







Section 1: Do I need to Register?
Q: What is a registered Clinical Scientist?
A Clinical Scientist is an appropriately trained and qualified scientist working in health care who:
  • gives scientific and clinical advice which has a direct bearing on the management of patients
  • applies scientific methods to maintain the efficacy, quality and safety of investigative or therapeutic techniques
  • introduces and advances new scientific and clinical procedures for patient benefit
  • is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
'Clinical Scientist' is a title protected under law. Anyone who is not registered and using it fraudulently will be prosecuted. The use of the term "Trainee Clinical Scientist" or "Pre-registrant Clinical Scientist" is allowed since there is obviously no intention to defraud patients or the profession.



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Q: What is registration?
Registration is designed to assure patients and the public, as well as colleagues, employers and potential employers, which practitioners are appropriately qualified and competent to practise. It sets a standard that is recognised throughout the United Kingdom and provides significant public protection from unprofessional or unethical behaviour. Registration is not normally required for those working in academia or industry or anywhere in a solely research role. For UK candidates, the application for registration is normally a two-stage process, with the award of the ACS Certificate of Attainment (or AHCS Certificate of Attainment or AHCS Certificate of Equivalence) required before application to HCPC for registration. Those fully qualified and already practising in the profession overseas may apply directly to HCPC under their International application route. Registrants must re-register every two years – October 2017, 2019 etc for Clinical Scientists.



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Q: Who controls registration?
Registration in many healthcare professions is now controlled by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Most healthcare professions can register once completing an approved degree course e.g. BSc in "Appropriate Subject" at "Sometown University". However, Clinical Scientists require a Certificate of Attainment from the ACS (or other similar certificate from the Academy for Healthcare Science) proving satisfactory postgraduate training and experience - unless they can qualify for the international application route directly to the HCPC. This International route has nothing to do with the ACS so please direct all enquiries to the HCPC – see elsewhere.



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Q: What is the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)?
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) was established on 1st April 2002 under powers in Section 60 of the Health Act, 1999. It replaced the Council and Boards of the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM) that had been responsible for registration since 1960. HCPC finally achieved Privy Council Approval on July 8th 2003 and most regulations relate to this date. From 2005 the HCPC were also granted additional powers for assessing continuing competence after registration (CPD), and already has disciplinary powers over the protected common titles including “Clinical Scientist”, “Biomedical Scientist” and other healthcare professionals’ titles. For more information see the HCPC website.



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Q: What is the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) responsible for?
The HCPC receives your application for registration and processes it. You deal with them every other year to renew your application or respond to problems. They also provide registration for many other Health and Care Service disciplines such as Social Workers, Physiotherapy, Chiropody, Radiography, etc. Any misdemeanours against you can be reported to the HPC and they must by law investigate and if necessary apply sanctions leading up to being struck off the register. Once registered you must renew in 2-year cycles – for Clinical Scientists this anniversary is October in 2013, 2015, 2017 etc. It is entirely YOUR responsibility to ensure renewals are made at the appropriate times. You can assist this by ensuring HCPC are notified of any change of contact address but even if the post fails to deliver reminders to you from the HCPC, or documentation from you to the HCPC, legally it is your responsibility. You can check what status the HCPC have on record for you from their website. If you are de-registered you would not have insurance cover for any litigation, it could revoke your Departments CPA certification and you should revert to trainee's salary. HCPC have a mechanism for re-entry should this happen.



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Q: How do I know if I am on the HCPC register?
You should have a certificate and be regularly paying for your registration renewal with the HCPC every two years. Apart from asking them directly to confirm your registered status, the register (name, number and profession) is in the public domain and can be interrogated by surname or registration number on the Internet at www.hcpc-uk.org/register.



The ONLY information available publicly is your name and initials(or forename), your registered location and registration number as well as the part of the register applicable to you – i.e. Clinical Scientist. The registered location may be your work town or city or your home area depending on your application form. Clinical Scientists often move around the country during their career development and it is YOUR responsibility as part of your registration to ensure HCPC have your current contact address for communications, notification of payments and other requirements. Failure to do so, non-payment or failure to submit required CPD declarations, can lead to being removed from the register – which could have implications on your salary, your job and validity of any insurance cover in case of litigation.



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Q: I thought I was on the CPSM and HCPC register but cannot find my number or name on the website register?
All registered staff should periodically check that they are on the register. This need often arises at CPA inspections when it can be too late. The scientific professions have identified that a number of staff that were accepted for the voluntary Registration Council for Scientists in Healthcare (RCSHC) register or the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM) register have failed to respond to communications from HCPC to gain registration with them. In this case you are not currently registered. You should urgently consider applying for registration. If you training and experience has been based in the UK, even if you consider yourself fully qualified, in order to register you are likely going to have to obtain either the ACS Certificate of Attainment or AHCS Certificate of Equivalence. 

 

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Q: What is the Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS)?
The Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS) is an umbrella organisation for the professional bodies covering the various clinical science modalities/sub-modalities. Nominated representatives of those professional bodies form the Directors of the ACS. Certain other bodies have an observer status with the ACS. It is the responsibility of the ACS to lay down the criteria for competence of applicants and to present the ACS Certificate of Attainment to candidates following a successful assessment. This certificate is one of the existing options to allow direct registration with the HCPC as a Clinical Scientist.



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Q: What is the Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS) responsible for?
The ACS is responsible for assessing whether you have reached the level of competence required for the modality/sub-modality in which you practise. It issues the ACS Certificate of Attainment that you then present to HCPC, as part of your application for entry to the register, as evidence that you are competent. The ACS:
  • is NOT a membership organisation, it’s members are the professions not individuals;
  • does NOT evaluate training courses or University degrees;
  • does NOT have a list of approved University courses for Clinical Scientists – (there is no such list and you simply need a 1st or 2nd class honours degree in appropriate subject – or a higher qualification);
  • does NOT deal with either preliminary training in these professions nor with questions of career progression – see Professional Bodies list;
  • does NOT provide a trade union function - see Federation of Clinical Scientists (FCS) or Amicus, Unison or other similar organisations.




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Q: I completed my qualifications and training and experience overseas – do I still need to submit to the ACS?
No. If you have completed all the criteria for registration and have been employed to the equivalent of a Clinical Scientist overseas, you can register directly with the HCPC under their International route. There are no overseas qualifications “automatically” recognised by HCPC and applications are dealt with on an individual case-by-case basis. However, proficient training in most countries will be acceptable as long as appropriate evidence is provided. You will also need to provide evidence of the equivalence of your overseas degree and your should contact NARIC prior to applying to HCPC – see the NARIC website.



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Q: Do I have to join the ACS?
No. The ACS is not a membership organisation but a review body setting standards and assessing attainment by individual applicants. The constituent professional bodies are:



ACB  Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine

ACE  Association of Clinical Embryologists

ACGS  Association for Clinical Genetic Science

ARTP  Association of Respiratory Technology and Physiology

BAA  British Academy of Audiology

BBTS  British Blood Transfusion Society

BriSCEV British Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision

BSCN  British Society for Clinical Neurophysiology

BSH  British Society of Haematology

BSHI  British Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics

BSHT  British Society for Haemostasis and Thrombosis

IPEM  Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine

NB - Immunologists & Microbiologists - The Association of Clinical Scientists in Immunology (ACSI) and the Association of Clinical Microbiologists amalgamated with the Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine (ACB) in 2007 and 2010 respectively. The British Society for Immunology (BSI) and The Society for General Microbiology (SGM) are not member bodies of the ACS and therefore members of BSI or SGM do not qualify for discounted fees.

NB - Geneticists - The Association of Clinical Cytogenetics (ACC) and the Clinical Molecular Genetics Society (CMGS) merged to form the Association for Clinical Genetic Science in 2013. The Association for Clinical Genetic Science (ACGS) now represents both sub-modalities of Clinical Genetics within the ACS and membership of this organisation allows for subsidised ACS fees

Federation of Clinical Scientists (FCS) - this is the trade union arm of the ACB.  You must be a full ACB member to benefit from subsidised fees - not just the FCS arm.


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Q: Do I have to join one of the member professional bodies?
Membership of one of the constituent member organisations is not a pre-requisite for registration. The professional bodies consider that applications from their members involve reduced workload for the ACS and so application fees for an ACS Certificate of Attainment are subsidised from the Professional Body's fees if you are a member of one of these constituent professional bodies. If you require help with your ACS application, it is more likely that these organisations will be better placed to provide that technical help for you than the ACS who can only assist with procedural queries.  We recommend that you join a professional body.



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Q: My job title indicates Clinical Scientist already – isn’t that enough?
No. It is illegal, under the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act, for someone to work in the Health Service and use the titles:



'statutory registered clinical scientist'

'registered clinical scientist' or

'state clinical scientist' or
'clinical scientist'



unless they are registered with the HCPC. Under separate legislation, closure of employment will be notified by the National Health Service Executive. Once closure of employment has been made, to work in the National Health Service as a Clinical Scientist, either directly or as a contractor, one will need to be registered. Removal from the register would mean that an individual would no longer be able to work as a Clinical Scientist in the public sector. Registration and the use of the protected titles does not apply to those working in academia, industry or who have purely research role.



It is illegal for those who are not registered to fraudulently imply they are registered and this is punishable by a fine of up to £5000.
The HCPC are content if, being unregistered, you term yourself "pre-registration clinical scientist" or "trainee clinical scientist".  However, they object to other formats such as "clinical research scientist" which are confusing to patients and could therefore be considered fraudulent use.



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Q: Can I be removed from the register?
The HCPC is required by the legislation to have two committees, an Investigating Committee and a Disciplinary Committee. The Disciplinary Committee has to decide in cases of malpractice whether to find the registrant either guilty or not guilty of infamous conduct, or it may defer a decision. A registrant found guilty may have his or her name removed from the register. The Committee may, alternatively, issue a warning. It may also remove his or her name from the register, but indicate that it would consider re-admission to the register after a set period, provided proof of good conduct were received. For more information see the HCPC website.



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Q: Is it true that I will not be able to work as a Clinical Scientist unless I am registered with the HCPC?
Whilst it is currently not a requirement to be registered in order to obtain work, many NHS Trusts will be following NHS guidance and best practice and only advertising for and employing Clinical Scientists i.e. those who are indeed registered. At present this is an issue for each individual NHS Trust. However, it is likely to become a requirement in order to practise as a Clinical Scientist in the Health Service except in a supervised (training) role. Since lack of registration limits your work abilities to your employer (as supervision is always required), it could act as a disincentive to employ you unless you can prove that you will be working towards registration in a short time. This should not stop you applying for such jobs as long as you are close to, or working towards, registration and explain this to the employer. Most medical insurers will only make payment for treatment carried out by registered practitioners.



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Q: I am only employed for research work – do I really need to be registered?
Probably not. The test is whether the work you do could potentially harm a patient. If you are, for example, working in a university and the results are being used for demographic or statistical purposes i.e. your work does not involve patient safety, either directly or indirectly, then registration would not be necessary. However, whoever your employer might be, if you are acting on patient samples and your work otherwise affects patients then you must either be registered or be supervised by someone who is registered. You need to review your job description and actual role to be able to decide. People employed at trainee grade do not need to, and cannot, be registered.



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Q: I am a Biomedical Scientist – do I really need to be registered?
In the UK there are two types of scientific healthcare workers – Clinical Scientists and Biomedical Scientists (BMS). There are many similarities in the two professions including registration with the HCPC. Both titles are protected under law and both need further postgraduate training before being fully competent to become registered. However, each has its own entry requirements and training – one is not a natural progression to the other though some Biomedical Scientists can and do train to become Clinical Scientists either by entering formal pre-registration (formerly 'Grade A') training or by completing the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) or by obtaining a supervised pre-registration clinical scientist position and using their BMS experience during training to apply to ACS for certification under Route TWO or the AHCS under the Certificate of Equivalence.



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Section 2: Procedure for Statutory Registration
Q: How do I become registered as a Clinical Scientist
We can only provide information on the Association of Clinical Scientists Certificate of Attainment. For information on the other options available to obtain HCPC registration as a Clinical Scientist please contact the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) or the HCPC directly.

For the ACS Certificate of Attainment you will need to comply with the timing requirements following training under an appropriate supervisor and then submit a portfolio of evidence outlining your training and experience to substantiate that you meet all the competences laid down in ACS Document Appendix 1. Once your portfolio is accepted you will face an interview with your peers in the profession to discuss your application and satisfy them that you are fit to be registered by receiving the ACS Certificate of Attainment.



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Q: When should I contact the ACS for the application forms?
You should obtain the ACS documentation as early as possible to allow you to be preparing your portfolio throughout your period of training. Do not wait until your training period has completed to start compiling your portfolio. These documents can be downloaded from this website. You do not need to contact either the HCPC or the ACS prior to your submission unless you have problems. There is no pre-registration notification necessary to either organisation.



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Q: What will I receive in my application pack?
Your application pack from the ACS, which you may download from this website will contain six documents:

DOC-ACS001  Guidelines for application

This provides directions and assistance in completing your application.

DOC-ACS002  Appendix 1 to Guidelines-Generic Competences

This must be returned bound into your portfolio once completed.

DOC-ACS003  Appendix 2 to Guidelines-Sub-modalities

This provides a table of the acceptable modalities and sub-modalities together with contact details for the professional bodies should you require additional technical advice or assistance. You must apply within one or other of these modalities or sub-modalities.

DOC-ACS004  Appendix 3 to Guidelines-Notes

DOC-ACS004a Appendix 4 to Guidelines-Interview Offers Procedure

Both of these provide directions and assistance in completing your application.

DOC-ACS005  Application form for Certificate of Attainment

This must be completed and returned separately with your portfolio, fees and if necessary, copy of proof of name change (e.g. marriage certificate).



Applicants in the following modalities MUST state a sub-modality on the application form to allow correct selection of assessors –

Clinical Genetics applicants – Cytogenetics or Molecular Genetics,

Clinical Physiology applicants - Respiratory Physiology or Neurophysiology

Medical Physics & Clinical Engineering applicants - Radiotherapy, Nuclear Medicine, Diagnostic Radiology &

Radiation Protection, Non-ionising Radiation Techniques or Clinical Engineering,

or Physiological Measurement & Computing



The following modalities have sub-modalities more appropriate to some applicants but not for others who would not need to specialise. Again it is important to indicate a sub-modality if necessary to allow appropriate assessor selection-

Clinical Biochemistry - Paediatric Metabolic Biochemistry or Analytical Toxicology

Haematology – Blood Transfusion.



You will also require competency documents specific for your modality. These documents provide discipline-specific versions of the general competences Appendix 1 and contains guidance as to how to complete the Appendix 1 document for your portfolio. These are only guides as to possible successful submissions and should NOT be used as a template for your portfolio. Even if your modality is not represented these will provide useful indications of what you need to provide.



All the documents are reviewed and revised periodically. Please ensure you have a current up-to-date version. The latest version of these controlled documents will always be on the website



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Q: When can I submit my application to the ACS?
You can submit your application to the ACS for the Certificate of Attainment as soon as you have completed your period of training and subsequent experience necessary to demonstrate attainment of the required competences. If you apply too early, and are unable to demonstrate attainment of the competences, your application will be rejected and a refund of fees minus £100 will be provided.

At least 12 weeks before the start of the preferred assessment month, the completed application form and assessment fee, together with two bound (three bound for Developing Science applications) and one unbound copies of the portfolio of evidence, should be submitted to the ACS Administrative Office. These interview session times will be advertised on this website for the following 12 months.



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Q: How long will ACS processing take?
Approximately 3-4 months from submission. The sequence of events is as follows.

  

a. The completed application form and assessment fee together with two bound (three bound for Developing Science) and one unbound copies of the portfolio of evidence should be submitted to the ACS Administrative Office. You will receive a written acknowledgment of safe receipt once processed by the administrative office (normally within 1-3 working days). You must have your own extras copy of the portfolio for reference as ACS copies cannot be returned to the applicants once submitted.

 

b. During the next 4-6 weeks two assessors (three for Developing Science) will review the portfolio for suitability to proceed to interview. Approximately 80% of portfolios are fine and are accepted for interview following this assessor review. Please be aware that the assessors may request additional evidence or information if they consider your portfolio exhibits any weaknesses or is not clear. You must allow enough time to ensure you can return this to qualify for the next interview round, or else you will face a delay in your assessment. Around 10-15% of applications exhibit weaknesses or problems which make it difficult for the assessors to know whether the competence of the applicant will be sufficient. In these cases they request further information to be provided by the applicant before they can be accepted for interview. This extra information may take the form of additional pieces of evidence of certain features or perhaps a clarification of timing or data relating to some work cited in the portfolio. This must be produced quickly and must satisfy the assessors before you can be included in any interview session. Make sure you are available during this period to allow a response. Whilst your application is in progress you must keep the administrative office informed of any significant periods during which you are not available.

 

c. The two (or three for Developing Science) ACS assessors will normally reach a decision on the application within 6-8 weeks of receipt. The candidate will be notified in writing by the Office.
d. If the standard is achieved the candidate will progress to the formal assessment process and will be notified of the assessment date, time and site. The ACS aims to provide the candidate with 3-4 weeks notice of the assessment date. It is important that you do not plan holidays or other absences in the few months after submission in case either extra data is requested or a date for interview becomes available. Since a series of interviews is planned for the same day, assessment planning does not only depend upon you. If you cannot make an offered interview date you must be prepared to face delays and await a future interview round. Declining a series of offered interview dates may lead to requirements for updated evidence if the delay is prolonged (See DOC-ACS004a-Appendix 4). However, please keep the Office aware of any plans or problems to avoid disappointment over timing difficulties.

 

e. The interview can last up to 60 or 120 minutes depending on the application route and how straightforward the training and experience has been. The location may be at the ACS Offices in London or occasionally in other sites around the country. For Physics and Engineering applications, interviews are often split between York and London depending on assessor availability.  Overseas applicants who elect to use the ACS or are unable to apply directly to the HCPC must be prepared to travel to interview in the UK. Your fees do not cover transport costs to the interview which you must arrange yourself or through your employer. You will not be informed of your assessors’ names until arriving at the interview.

 

f. At the interview you will be expected to discuss with the assessors the evidence you have presented and perhaps respond to specific scenarios to establish your competence. The initial portfolio acts as a filtration stage to determine any major problems which would suggest an interview was inappropriate. The actual acceptance for an interview should be taken as a positive sign that, as far as can be judged, there is nothing to indicate anything major to indicate you would not meet the required competences for certification and registration. However, that is what the interview will establish - it is the interview which is the assessment, where you establish you understand and are meeting the competences in your day to day work. Statistics on ACS failure rates are given on the website under Reports - under 10% of applications have failed at interview stage – due to applicants not being able to discuss their work and convince the assessors that they understood and carried it out and are truly competent.

 

g. The assessors will not indicate your success or otherwise after the interview. They can only recommend a course which has to be ratified by the ACS Board.

 

h. The ACS Office will communicate the outcome of the assessment process to the applicant formally by email and letter, normally within a 1-2 week period after the interview. Unsuccessful applicants will be provided with a list of the competence areas in which they were unsuccessful along with how to obtain more information on the reasons for this together with where to obtain advice on what is needed to rectify it for a future re-submission.

 

i. With the Certificate of Attainment you can now apply for statutory registration with the HCPC. This will normally take 2-3 weeks but could be longer during HCPC’s busy season – June, July and August following College graduation when many people in other registered professions will be applying to them. The ACS Certificate of Attainment is a UK qualification and this route to HCPC is always considered a UK application and not an international route – even if the applicant was trained abroad and is applying from overseas.



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Q: How long will HCPC processing take?
HCPC will process your application as quickly as possible.



You must return their application form and a questionnaire with their assessment fee and the supporting documentation required. Upon receipt of these, with an ACS Certificate of Attainment, your application will be checked by the office to verify that it can legally be considered under either their international or UK routes as appropriate. After verification, straightforward applications should lead to direct registration within a few weeks. Those applying directly to HCPC under the International Route may be asked to clarify aspects of the application and be interviewed by a panel formed of two assessors or Partners. This approach normally takes 4-6 weeks.



For more information see the HCPC website.



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Q: What if there is a problem with my ACS application?
At the initial submission - The ACS Administrative Office will check your application on receipt for completeness of contents (Application form, Generic Competences document, two copies of correctly bound portfolio, one copy of unbound portfolio, cheque for correct fee and proof of name change if appropriate). They will then check for portfolio size - the target sizes are 60 and 120 pages for Route ONE and TWO respectively and those beyond 80 and 160 pages respectively will be rejected with loss of administration fee - this is an absolute maximum with no tolerance accepted.  They will also check for key compliances such as degree status and HCPC or GMC registration of the nominated supervisor(s) of your training. They will notify you if anything is missing or incorrect. The application will be held until these points are addressed satisfactorily. Ensure you are available following submission in case of such enquiry. If these cannot be resolved quickly, the application will be returned together with the fee less £100. The full fee must be included again at re-submission. Your portfolios will not be returned.



At the initial portfolio assessment - Two Assessors from the modality or sub-modality review the application and if the criteria are not met this will be communicated in writing to the candidate together with the reasons for non-compliance.



1. Unacceptable portfolio - Candidates who submit a sub-standard portfolio of evidence will be provided with guidance on remedial action required for resubmission at the next scheduled round of assessments. You may or may not be able to reapply. The fee is returned less £100. The full fee applicable at the time must be included at any re-submission.



2. Insufficient portfolio - In many cases the additional information required could be provided by the candidate within a short period – approximately 2-4 weeks. In these cases the portfolio is held until the requested information is submitted when, if accepted by the assessors, the application proceeds to interview with no penalty.



Following the assessment interview - Unsuccessful candidates who fail at this stage will be notified of the competence areas in which they were unsuccessful. The members of ACS Executive along with the relevant professional body nominated ACS Director are then given the assessors' comments from the day. The unsuccessful candidate is advised to contact the relevant ACS Director(s) for further information and advice on what remedial action may be taken to assist a future application. There is no refund and a full fee applicable at the time must be included with any re-submission.

Should the candidate fail in only one competeence area, then one further option allows the assessors to require remedial work only in that section followed by a resubmission, normally within 12 months, of a short report of the work instead of a full portfolio. The subsequent, more limited interview will solely address that competence area and none of the others. The interview will last only around 30 minutes in this case and the re-submission fee is reduced - see Fees.



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Q: Can I appeal if my application is refused?
Candidates can appeal in writing. Appeals should be sent to the ACS Administrative Office within 4 weeks of receiving notification of the outcome. The letter should indicate the grounds of the appeal. Appeals can only be made on the process of the assessment not on the judgement of the assessors. The Office will ONLY deal with communication from the applicant – not with supervisors or other third parties. More information on the appeal process is provided on this website.



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Q: What is the success rate of applications and why do people fail?
Statistics on the outcomes of applications are given in the Reports section on the website.  The most frequent causes for rejection at portfolio stage are insufficient amounts of evidence, either omitting key competences or providing only an isolated piece of evidence instead of a few examples. Making statements about your experience is not sufficient - you must provide the evidence to substantiate it.  But also note that the assessors are NOT looking for quantity at the expense of quality of evidence – excessively bulky portfolios waste assessors’ time and suggest an applicant has poor management and communication skills - they are also likely to not meet page restrictions.

The most frequent failure at interview is insufficient clinical experience or exaggerated claims in the portfolio of experience that was only witnessed and not carried out personally and therefore understood and still used in practice.
Again the Reports section of the website contains details of the competences which cause most problems.



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Section 3: Criteria for Obtaining the ACS Certificate of Attainment
Q: What are the criteria I need to meet for the ACS Certificate of Attainment?
  • Firstly, there are NO approved degree courses or approved Universities for Clinical Sciences, unlike other healthcare professions registered under HCPC. You must simply have a 1st or 2nd Class Honours degree in an appropriate subject relating to the modality or sub-modality. Sub-modalities are specialisations occurring in some professions. Registrants need to be assessed in the skills of that sub-modality although they will be registered under the umbrella modality. Obviously someone trained in one specific sub-modality may not be qualified to work in a different sub-modality of that profession – however changing roles do not require re-registration, see elsewhere.
  • Your supervisor for the work MUST be registered as either a consultant Clinical Scientist or a medical professional and they must countersign and vouch for your work and time of your training period. You may have more than one supervisor.
  • You must comply with either Route ONE or Route TWO requirements, see below.
  • You must submit the completed application form, portfolio and appropriate fee.




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Q: What is a modality?
The HCPC will register you as a Clinical Scientist. However, because this encompasses a range of distinct professions, they will also note on the register your modality or speciality – though this is not publicly available. The modality is simply a self-declaration of the limitations of your fitness to work. It should be clearly understood that registration conveys a “fitness to work” – a standard of quality and safety. It does in no way indicate a “fitness for the job” which rests entirely with the employing health authority. The HCPC do not require you to re-register if your work and your role changes. You remain registered as a Clinical Scientist but are expected to maintain the necessary CPD and training in working practices to fulfil the criteria for “fitness to work”. Sub-modalities are not recorded by the HCPC and are simply divisions of modalities that allow better assessment of candidates upon application.



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Q: Which modalities are accepted by the ACS?
The ACS has recognised twelve different modalities of practice for registration.



The registered modalities are:
  • audiology
  • cellular science
  • clinical biochemistry
  • clinical genetics
  • clinical embryology
  • clinical immunology
  • clinical microbiology
  • clinical physiology
  • haematology
  • histocompatibility and immunogenetics
  • medical physics and clinical engineering
  • developing sciences.
The ACS Board has also accepted some sub-modalities for a number of the modalities. The sub-modalities are not published on the register and are for the purpose of guidance to the Board secretariat.
  • The modality of Clinical Biochemistry has two sub-modalities – Analytical Toxicology and Paediatric Metabolic Biochemistry.
  • Clinical Genetics has two sub-modalities; Molecular Genetics and Cytogenetics.
  • Clinical Physiology has three sub-modalities; Respiratory Physiology, Neurophysiology and Ophthalmic & Vision Science.
  • Cellular Science has two sub-modalities; Cellular Ultrastructure & Molecular Pathology and Myology & Immunohistochemistry.
  • Haematology has a sub-modality of Blood Transfusion.
  • Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering has five sub-modalities – Radiotherapy, Nuclear Medicine, Diagnostic Radiology & Radiation Protection, Non-ionising Radiation Techniques and Clinical Engineering, Physiological Measurement & Computing. It is possible to be assessed in more than one sub-modality of this group if requested. However, you are warned that this will entail questioning on all competences for each sub-modality and please note the comments on what HCPC records on the register elsewhere.
  • You cannot apply to ACS or HCPC under any other modality or sub-modality. However, it is recognised that some Developing Sciences encompass sections of more than one modality/sub-modality. Again this has been catered for in the final modality and you will have assessors chosen from the different modalities that comprise your work. Because of this, the cost is greater since more than 2 assessors may be required for this less common occurrence and we cannot combine interviews with other candidates.




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Q: I am trained and work as Biomedical Engineer – do I have to specify this sub-modality or can I register under the global Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering modality?
You register with HCPC under your selected Modality. You register as a Clinical Scientist though your modality is recorded on the HCPC database. They do not record your sub-modality. However, to be assessed by the ACS and HCPC you must select one of the sub-modalities if one exists. Only in this way can you be assessed in your specific work. Otherwise you could apply for jobs in any form of Medical Physics – e.g. Radiation Physics – without adequate training and experience. ACS will record your details under your sub-modality if one exists. Once registered with HCPC you do not need to re-register if you subsequently change modalities or sub-modalities as your career progresses – you are expected to ensure you meet the requirements of the new role - see elsewhere.



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Q: My job doesn’t really fit into any of these modalities?
Because statutory registration via the ACS Certificate of Attainment is only possible within these modalities and sub-modalities you cannot currently register with the HCPC by that means if you do not fit into one of these categories. Therefore, there is no mechanism for you to apply to the ACS for a Certificate of Attainment at present. If you cannot decide which modality or sub-modality you come under, you should discuss this with your Head of Department or Professional Body. ACS Administrative Office cannot help in these cases.



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Q: Will I be able to register in the future?
The ACS Board must approve modalities and sub-modalities. The current list of accepted modalities and sub-modalities may change with time.



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Q: Which degree courses are acceptable for my modality?
Unlike other healthcare professions registered under HCPC, there are NO approved degree courses or approved Universities for Clinical Scientists. No fixed rules exist, other than it must be a 1st or 2nd class honours degree, since the variety of courses available in Clinical Science is varied and a list could exclude one by oversight. What is required is one in which a substantial element of the degree course contains a grounding of basic science appropriate to the clinical science modality to be registered.



For example:
  • audiology: any science degree
  • cellular science: life science degree
  • clinical biochemistry: a biochemistry or life science degree with a major biochemistry component
  • clinical embryology: life science degree
  • clinical genetics: life science degree with a genetics component
  • clinical microbiology: life science degree with a microbiology component
  • clinical immunology: life science degree with an immunology component
  • clinical physiology: life science or medical science degree with a human physiology component
  • haematology: life science degree
  • histocompatibility and immunogenetics: life science degree with some genetics, haematology, molecular biology, immunology components
  • medical physics and clinical engineering: a physics or engineering degree
Overseas applicants must obtain establish equivalence of degree through NARIC – see elsewhere.



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Q: My degree was obtained in a non-UK university?
This is not a problem. The HCPC and ACS would use The National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC) for testing equivalences of overseas qualifications. You should apply to NARIC for a verification document that your qualifications are equivalent and include this with your ACS/HCPC application. For more details please see the NARIC website.



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Q: My working experience was obtained outside the UK?
For applicants who have received their experience and training outside the UK, ACS will consider applications on an individual case basis. Advice on acceptability should be sought from the relevant professional body (see Appendix 2) and the HCPC.



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Section 4: Procedure for Obtaining the ACS Certificate of Attainment
Q: What are the routes to obtaining the ACS Certificate of Attainment?
The two training routes for applicants for the ACS Certificate of Attainment and subsequently for State Registration purposes are detailed in Section 3 of the Guidelines for Application.



Route ONE is a 3-year route which applies to the majority of conventional trainees who go through the approved 2- or 3-year pre-registration (formerly 'Grade A') formal training courses followed by further experience in the laboratory whilst still under supervision.



Route TWO is applicable to any other applicants who feel able to demonstrate the same competences as those for RouteONE. It is anticipated that it would take approximately 6 years postgraduate experience and training (and very likely a minimum of 4 years) for this to be achieved. The process is similar to RouteONE but you are likely to gather more evidence for the portfolio since portions of the training and experience cannot be summed up in completing the formal training programme. This is the only ACS route available for the Clinical Physiology, Cellular Science and Developing Sciences modalities, the Paediatric Metabolic Biochemistry sub-modality and the Blood Transfusion sub-modality, that do not have accredited training schemes to allow entry by Route ONE.



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Q: What if my modality doesn’t have a training course?
There were 10 constituent member professional body approved training schemes for the modalities of: audiology, clinical biochemistry, clinical embryology, clinical genetics, clinical haematology, clinical immunology, clinical microbiology, histocompatibility & immunogenetics and medical physics & clinical engineering. However these pre-registration courses are being replaced by training schemes linked to the Scientist Training Programme (STP). There is currently no approved training scheme available in Clinical Physiology and Cellular Science and therefore anyone applying for the ACS Certificate of Attainment, and subsequently for Statutory Registration in this modality will need to apply under Route TWO. This would also apply to applicants under the Developing Science modality.



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Q: I had a break in my work experience – does it have to be continuous?
Your training and experience when applying under either route does not have to be continuous but you will be expected to be fully abreast of what is required for the modality/sub-modality at the time you apply and at the time of interview.



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Q: Do I have to achieve every one of the competences?
The generic competences in Appendix 1 cover your experience dealing with aspects of Scientific, Clinical, Technical, R&D, Communications, Problem Solving and Professional Accountability. You are expected to achieve an overall competence in all of these sections but will obviously be stronger or weaker in specific aspects – you will not be expected to be an expert in all of them. Any weaknesses may be pointed out at interview but may not be sufficient to warrant withholding the Certificate of Attainment. Appendix 1 is NOT a tick-off list requiring 100% compliance.



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Q: Do I have to include my training log and PhD thesis in my portfolio?
No. For those candidates applying under Route ONE, the portfolio of evidence should cover the 3-year training and experience period. For those candidates applying under Route TWO, the portfolio of evidence should cover the an extensive training and experience period required to obtain the competences. Compiling the portfolio is one aspect of establishing your competence in Communications and Problem Solving. The portfolio must convey to the assessors in a clear and concise manner that you have achieved the necessary training and experience to work unsupervised. Guidance to the preparation is given in the Appendices. Assessors will not look favourably on either disorganised portfolios or masses of either irrelevant of repetitive data. Abstracts of theses or papers should be sufficient if they clearly prove the relevant competence.



Read and follow the Guideline Notes in the application pack carefully.



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Q: Should I include my original BSc certificate?
No. Submitted material will NOT be returned – so only provide copies of any important documentation.



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Q: Some of the evidence in my portfolio refers to me under my maiden name before marriage – will this be a problem?
If there are any references in the portfolio to you under a different name you must include a copy of proof of identity with the application form – not bound into the portfolio. This may be a copy of a marriage license or deed poll etc. as applicable. Similarly you must provide photographic ID at the interview - passport or driving licence - and this must match either your name on the application form or the marriage certificate or other proof of name change.



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Q: Will I be asked technical questions at the interview?
It is not intended to predominate on technical aspects which would have been better covered previously for instance at pre-registration formal training. The ACS Certificate of Attainment includes the requirement for formal interview by two ACS-appointed assessors from the relevant modality (or sub-modality) who will normally be from ACS member professional bodies. They are your peers so will be aware of what other applicants have gone through regarding training courses and typical further experience during career progression.  Those utilising Route TWO can expect more questioning on this area though.



The formal interview will be structured to include an assessment of:



a. the candidate’s knowledge of each of the Generic Competences as applied to the relevant modality or sub-modality; and



b.the portfolio of evidence submitted in support of gaining the Generic Modality or sub-modality specific Competences.



It will seek to establish that your training has been comprehensive. You will not be re-assessed on the academic components of training except in so far as it may support the background to competences. You will be required to demonstrate a good general level of scientific ability and an understanding of the basic principles related to the competences, especially the health and safety issues and including a full appreciation of practical aspects (i.e. not just what was done, but why it was carried out that way and the significance of the results obtained).



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Q: What if the assessors disagree?
This is likely to have arisen at the initial assessment stage prior to interview. In this case a third assessor will be brought in to arbitrate.



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Section 5: Costs
Q: What is the cost of obtaining the ACS Certificate of Attainment?
Please see the Fees section on the website.


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Q: What happens to the money if I am not successful?
Monies are not refundable from either ACS or HCPC. If you have to re-apply you may have to submit a second fee depending on the severity of the problem. This would be explained in the comments following the interview.



If the submission on arrival at the ACS Office is incorrectly bound or incomplete or missing some key component that cannot be resolved quickly, the application will be returned together with the fee less a £25 administration charge. The full fee must be included at with re-submission.



Candidates who submit a sub-standard portfolio of evidence as identified at the initial review by assessors will have the application and fees returned less a £100 administration fee. The full fee applicable at the time must be included at any re-submission.



In many cases a more minor requirement for additional information identified by the assessors initial review can be provided by the candidate within a short period – normally 2-4 weeks. In these cases the portfolio is held until the information is submitted when, if accepted by the assessors, the application proceeds to interview with no penalty. If the candidate cannot produce the acceptable required evidence within this time frame then the application and fees are returned less a £100 administration fee. The full fee applicable at the time must be included at any re-submission.



Unsuccessful candidates at interview stage may or may not be able to reapply. There is no refund and a full fee applicable at the time must be included with any re-submission.



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Q: Why do we have to pay a fee to get the Certificate?
The fees go towards the costs of the assessments and administrative costs of providing the certification. It is a one-off payment related to your certification for onward registration. The Professional Bodies are partly sponsoring the cost for current members of their associations when they apply.



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Q: What is the cost of Statutory Registration with HCPC?
Please see the Fees section on this website and also the HCPC website.



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Section 6: Miscellaneous Areas




Q: Where do I find out about the Pre-registration (Grade A) Training courses?
From 2011 onwards, with the implementation of the Modernising Scientific Careers Scientist Training Programme (MSC STP), many changes have taken place to the way in whish formal pre-registration clinical scientist training is operated.

For more information on the courses existing prior to the implementation of the MSC STP you should contact the relevant ACS constituent member professional body to your modality/sub-modality.

For information on the MSC STP courses please contact the National School for Healthcare Science or the Academy for Healthcare Science.



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Q: Will ACS RouteTWO continue to be available as a route to registration?
There are no plans to close RouteTWO in the immediate future. The ACS and the AHCS continue to work together to discuss assessment arrangements so that scientists who have not been through STP or another form of approved training may be able to apply for either ACS RouteTWO or AHCS Certificate of Equivalence. Any future decision regarding closure of RouteTWO will ensure that there is sufficient lead time to enable anyone who is seeking registration to prepare accordingly.





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Q: Do I need to maintain my statutory registration and CPD if I take a career break?
Yes, if you intend returning to work in the near future and you must retain your registration status and ensure HCPC are aware of any changes of address. You should also ensure you maintain CPD during the break. For a more prolonged absence, HCPC have agreed with the professions on minimum re-training requirements for such people who do not retain their registration status and this depends on the length of the break. Re-training requirements for staff after work breaks can easily be resolved and continuance with CPD would obviously entail reduced need for this.





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Q: I had a break in my work experience – does this have to be continuous?
The total postgraduate training does not have to be continuous for Route 2 applicants. Less common is a break in the Route 1 training but again this is allowed as long as the total time requirement and competences are met. 

  

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Q: Where will the interview assessments be held?
Venues are sometimes arranged regionally to minimise travel difficulties but are generally in London.  Physics and Engineering interviews are often split between York and London.



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Registered Office: Association of Clinical Scientists, c/o ACB, 130-132 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU