Section menu

Questions about the clinical pharmaceutical sciences STP

Please click on a question below to reveal the answer.

What are the benefits of hosting a Clinical Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPS) trainee?

You are able to attract a high calibre post-graduate trainee who could then meet your succession planning needs in technical and scientific pharmaceutical services which are traditionally hard to recruit into. These post-graduate trainees will help to form the future workforce for technical services and will lead innovation and develop new services in the future. You are able to develop and steer trainees to help meet the future workforce needs of the Trust. There are tangible benefits to the hosting organisation. For example, trainees undertake research projects, which can be helpful to the department. A current trainee undertook a project on cold chain qualification, which proved extremely useful for the department’s MHRA inspection. Another project looked at validation of equipment. There is also a benefit to the department through development of existing staff in the training role.

Why are CPS trainees needed?

There is a skills shortage within technical and scientific pharmaceutical services. A Department of Health supported workforce review of the technical specialties was carried out in 2011 and identified capacity to support the STP with an intake of 10 trainees per annum to address skills shortages.

What are the likely future roles of these trainees?

The sort of roles individuals graduating from this training scheme could take on include:

  • Quality Assurance Specialist
  • Production Manager
  • Radiopharmacy Production Manager
  • Quality Control Laboratory Manager
  • Clinical trials specialist (production / QA elements)
  • Auditor
  • Formulation specialist

They would be eligible to become releasing officers in Licensed Units, and there is an emphasis on Quality Management throughout the training, making these professionals well-placed to take on roles in Quality Management and audit in all areas of Pharmacy services.

How are the trainees recruited?

Recruitment to the Scientist Training Programme (STP) is highly competitive. Applications can be via the direct route (i.e. a University undergraduate or graduate responding to the advertisement) or via the ‘in service’ route. The recruitment process is coordinated by the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) on an annual basis, on behalf of English and Welsh NHS education commissioners. The recruitment process is as follows:

  • Recruitment opens for applications typically from early January each year.
  • Advertisements are placed on NHS Jobs, the NSHCS and NHS Careers websites, in the New Scientist magazine/website and circulated to all Universities. Applicants have been able to apply to a minimum of one and a maximum of two specialisms.
  • The NSHCS supports applications for both the competitive and direct entry route, as well as in service applicants.
  • Shortlisting is undertaken online with independent panels scoring applicants on their qualifications and responses to a series of questions based on the generic person specification for the post. Panels consist of representatives from employers with a commissioned post, professional bodies, academic providers running the Masters programme and lay/patient representatives where possible.
  • Interviews take place on a national basis using the multi mini interview approach and includes representatives from employers, professional bodies, universities and lay/patient representatives. Applicants are assessed on a range of skills and behaviours that are in line with the requirements of the training programme and that meet the values of the NHS constitution.
  • The allocation process is managed on a national basis and is informed by the preferences (choices of specialism and location) that applicants provide as part of their application process, supporting the highest scoring applicants in being appointed to their first choice. Once allocations are confirmed and accepted by the applicants, the NSHCS will forward the applicant details to the local employers to complete their local employment processes and issue the applicant’s with a contract of employment.

Clinical Pharmaceutical Science applicants do not require a pharmacy degree, but it is anticipated that a career in Clinical Pharmaceutical Sciences is a career pathway open to those with Pharmacy degrees. The scheme also provides an opportunity for newly qualified pharmacists to embark on a structured career path in the pharmaceutical technical specialties as an alternative to the conventional clinical pharmacy diploma route. For those applying to Clinical Pharmaceutical Science acceptable degrees are: Chemistry or the Life/Biological Sciences which are chemistry related (for example, Biochemistry, pharmacology), or pharmaceutical sciences or pharmacy. Science degrees related to medicine may be considered suitable if relevant to the specialty or theme for which you are applying.

What is the general structure of the scheme?

The training course results in an accredited MSc. Training is conducted over three years, with a mixture of academic and work-based placements. The training involves work-based rotations around four areas: Aseptics, Production, Quality Assurance / Control and Radiopharmacy, during which time the trainee completes competencies and assessments which are recorded through an on-line portfolio. Each trainee undertakes a Masters research project and there is also an elective placement.

Do I need to offer all four specialisms?

No, but you will need to be able to facilitate the provision of all parts of the programme. Training consortia or regional/national collaborative approach to training is encouraged. Collaboration with other departments may bring added benefits through shared learning and good practice.

What if the trainee has a particular interest in one area?

All learning outcomes and competencies must be completed for each part of the rotation but there is flexibility in the timing of the delivery of the placements. There is the option to choose research projects and elective placements which reflect the interest of an individual.

How is the CPS training scheme funded and how does it differ from other courses e.g the Pharmaceutical Technology and Quality Assurance (PTQA) course?

This is a three year funded work-based learning and academic three-year programme, with the funding inclusive of the band 6 salary and course fees. In addition, some funding can be available for the trainee’s expenses. The scheme provides a high level of science education where the work-based placements are directly aimed at development of practical and scientific skills which are relevant to pharmaceutical technical services. The trainees are normally supernumerary, and are employees of the host organisation, with funding provided by the LETB. Upon successful completion, the trainee will have a Masters degree, eligibility for registration with HCPC as a Clinical Scientist, as well as membership of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Who is responsible for delivering the training locally?

Host organisations must nominate a local training officer who will be responsible for supporting and assessing the trainee and for facilitating training. The training officer may delegate training and assessment to supervisors in specific placements. Training departments will be accredited by the National School of Healthcare Science.

How do I go about getting a trainee?

You need to contact your local education office and your Trust Lead Healthcare Scientist to discuss funding for STP posts. Expressions of interest are sought by the local education office between July and September each year. Usually a need has to be identified within the Trust Workforce Plan, although if there is a regional or national workforce need, this may be taken into consideration. Placements are advertised nationally by the School, and direct entry applicants apply directly to the School to be considered for short-listing.