What is Route 2?
This is an alternative route to HCPC Registration as a Clinical Scientist and open to those that have not followed a formal training programme (like STP). It has been in operation for many years. The basic requirement is a first or second class appropriate Science Honours degree. Then you need to build up a portfolio of experience through a combination of postgraduate learning (MSc or PhD) and work. This experience needs to be sufficient to demonstrate that you meet all the competencies as defined by the Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS). It tends to be appropriate for an individual who has specialised in a particular area of Medical Physics so has a narrower range of experience than those that have followed a formal training programme.
It is unlikely that this can be achieved in less than 4 years of postgraduate experience but there will be wide variation in individual circumstances. Also it is essential that supervised clinical science practice is included in a hospital environment so you will need to find a suitable job to get this experience.
Once you are working in a relevant post you can apply to join the IPEM Part II training scheme for free. We will find an External Advisor to help mentor you through your training. You can decide how much of their help you would like; alternatively you can find a mentor yourself.
Eventually you need to demonstrate that you achieved these competencies. Your completed portfolio of evidence (of your training and experience) will need to be submitted to the ACS for review. If it is satisfactory then you will be called to an assessment interview. If successful you will be awarded a “Certificate of Attainment” from the Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS) which can then be submitted to the HCPC to gain entry onto the register.
Is Route 2 different to the STP equivalence Route?
The Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS) runs an equivalence scheme based on a set of standards that are linked to those obtained on the formal STP. The principle is that you must demonstrate equivalence to the range of learning achieved during STP. It therefore tends to be appropriate to individuals that have experience over a wide range of Medical Physics specialities. Once again a portfolio of evidence must be submitted to the AHCS that demonstrates how you meet these standards. If this is satisfactory you will be called to assessment interview after which, if successful, you will be awarded a “Certificate of Equivalence” from the Academy for Healthcare Science. This also confers eligibility to apply to join the HCPC register of Clinical Scientists. (which will allow you to work as a Clinical Scientist). Please see here for more details
So how do I get onto this Route 2?
As explained above you need to have a Science degree and ideally an accredited MSc or PhD. This is NOT an official requirement but you need to demonstrate capability to MSc level, so already having an accredited MSc does help in this respect. The next step is to find a job that allows you to obtain practical experience. This, unfortunately, is not entirely straightforward and suitable jobs are advertised relatively infrequently.
So how do you find a job that will give me the relevant experience? Where can I apply?
Vacancies in medical physics departments are advertised on websites such as www.nhs.jobs.uk , www.scot.nhs.uk and often departments draw attention to post on the medical physics and engineering JISC Mail list .
To give you an idea about the things to look for: Jobs for candidates that have just achieved HCPC registration as a Clinical Scientists (e.g after a successfully completed STP training) are advertised at band 7.
Some departments t make statements in the advert that, if nobody with that qualification applies, they would consider applicants with less experience on a modified job description with the purpose of achieving registration. Very occasionally departments do advertise a post were applicants are not expected to have registration and a major aim would be working towards this. They tend to be advertised at band 6, so at a lower salary level.
If the band 7 post doesn’t specify a Route 2 option, it is certainly worth contacting the department concerned to see whether they would consider an application from a candidate suitable for these routes, even if they have not stated this in their advert.
Would I be able to do this whilst working as a technologist or dosimetrist?
There are no set rules about the experience, but it is unlikely that a department would be able to accommodate somebody in a technologist role to work towards registration as a clinical scientist as they cannot afford to do so in terms of resources and time. Also, working as a technologist would not enable you to meet all the competences required for HCPC registration.
One approach could be to apply for a post as a trainee clinical scientists in the same department but that would depend on the department. If they were advertising and knew of you and your aspirations they might advertise as internal only otherwise, it would be through open competition. In order to achieve the required competencies you would have to be working under supervision in a clinical scientist role, although this might be the same pay level as a technologist.
Relevant experience always counts in job applications so having worked as a technologist might well help you to successfully apply for a position that includes the option to work towards registration – either in your department or at another hospital (although please note that having an MSc is almost always required for Route 2).
If I am on Route 2 but and not registered what sort of work would I be able to do?
When working in the NHS you should only perform those tasks for which you have been properly trained. The training someone on Route 2 is given would be supervised and once somebody has been deemed competent to perform a specific task, you can do such a task under a broader supervision and that might include tasks that involve working with patients; however, in practice, you would likely be accompanied by a registered clinical scientist under these circumstances as you cannot practise independently until you are registered with the HCPC
How many people apply for registration via Route 2 every year?
About 30 people complete the Route 2 for medical physics every year and achieve their Certificate of Attainment from ACS.
1st degree: Honours degree Physics (2nd Class)
2nd degree: Medical and Radiation Physics (Merit) (IPEM accredited)
Relevant experience: 5 years’ work as a Research Assistant working in radiation biophysics at the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology
I had an MSc from the University of Birmingham which had been accredited under the IPEM part I/II system, alongside my years of research experience in Oxford. I was advised that there would be Hospitals advertising Band 7 who would be prepared to employ me under the Route 2 scheme. However, it was highlighted that these opportunities are quite few and far between.
So search for Band 7 posts on the NHS Jobs website with the key words ‘Route 2’. Most adverts did not include this option, whilst some said it would be considered. I emailed the Heads of Department for those hospitals who offered it in order to assess their appetite for my application. A number of hospitals expressed an interest but cautioned that if candidates had already achieved registration, they would be prioritised. It was my current employer, however, who took a broader and more welcoming approach to recruitment via Route 2 and with whom my future training and prospects felt more secure.
1st degree: Theoretical Physics (1st Class)
2nd degree: PhD in Astronomy
Relevant Experience: No prior experience relevant to the field.
It started with my long standing interest in applying physics. The specific trigger was finding a set of radiotherapy course notes which I happily read and found fascinating because of how practical the physics was. I decided to follow that up by sending an email to the closest radiotherapy centre asking to visit. I enjoyed my visit and talked about what career options there were and realised that Route II would be ideal if I could find an opportunity. After my visit I continued to read about radiotherapy.
Fortunately, one department put out a job advert that didn’t specifically require a registration as a clinical scientist to apply so I decided to take a chance and went for it. I got offered an interview and things went my way and I got the job.
In short, the things I would emphasise is that it’s important to connect to radiotherapy centres and advertise that you are interested in transfering into the field. Secondly, pay close attention to job adverts and determine whether you registration is a condition of applying.
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