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The HSST pathway

Since the launch of the HSST programme in 2014 there has often been confusion regarding the pathways available for trainees who may have pre-existing doctoral qualifications. This situation is further complicated for Life Science trainees with respect to the requirement to attain Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) in order to achieve successful completion of the HSST programme. This section aims to clarify the agreements made, the opportunities available and the pathway for those undertaking the HSST programme.

The concept of the HSST programme is explained comprehensively in the document ‘Scaling the Heights’ and references that the final assessment of those in HSST in the Life Sciences will be through the Fellowship examination of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath). A joint statement, which reinforced the status of the FRCPath, was issued in 2014 and recognised that across the five year programme that learning predominantly takes place within the workplace and that those HSST trainees in Life Sciences may additionally, if they wish and in discussion with their workplace supervisor, enrol in full or for selected components of a Professional Doctorate (DClinSci).

As described in the joint statement, the HSST programme provides opportunities across all themes for learning, knowledge and skill acquisition related to three key themes:

  • Specialist scientific knowledge
  • Clinical skills, values and behaviours
  • Innovation in healthcare science

The subsequent engagement of Manchester Academy for Healthcare Scientist Education (MAHSE) by Health Education England (HEE) to deliver the Professional Doctorate programme (see Components of the professional doctorate) has seen further discussions between the College, School and MAHSE and further agreement that:

  • MAHSE partner Universities will accept a pass in the FRCPath Part 1 examination in a relevant specialty in place of the Professional Doctorate (DClinSci) Section B.
  • The Royal College of Pathologists will accept the research component (Module C2) of the Professional Doctorate (DClinSci) in a relevant specialty as the written option for the FRCPath Part 2.
  • The National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) will work with MAHSE in the delivery of the Innovation Project report (Module C1) and that trainees could utilise elements from FRCPath Part 2 as the basis of their ICS Project report.

Components of the professional doctorate

Therefore this later agreement now requires that all HSST trainees including those in Life Sciences undertake Module C1 of Section C of the professional doctorate (see Entry to HSST Programme for Life Sciences - Pathway 1). HSST trainees in Life Sciences may then optionally choose to take the full Professional Doctorate requiring completion of Sections A and C Module C2 (see Entry to HSST Programme for Life Sciences - Pathway 3) or they may choose to undertake solely Section A and exit with a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership and Professionalism for Healthcare Sciences (see Entry to HSST Programme for Life Sciences - Pathway 2).

Those HSST trainees with a research doctorate (PhD) should note that this is not admissible in lieu of Section C of the professional doctorate but may be allowable as evidence against the research requirement of FRCPath Part 2.

The HSST trainee in Life Sciences therefore completes the workplace learning, Innovation Project and fulfils the requirements of the FRCPath examination to meet all the learning objectives of the College HSST curriculum and successfully exits the HSST programme as is summarised in the pathway diagram below.

Entry to HSST Programme for Life Sciences

The options available for those HSST in Physical and Physiological Sciences is more straightforward as there are no Medical Royal College examinations available. Hence all HSST trainees in these disciplines are normally required to undertake a 'Common Pathway' completing all sections of the DClinSci and the Workplace Learning (see Entry to HSST Programme for Physical Sciences and Physiological Sciences) and exiting HSST with a DClinSci.

An 'Alternate Pathway' for those with an appropriate research doctorate (PhD) is available which requires completion of all components of the DClinSci other than C2. However since the research doctorate (PhD) is not admissible in lieu of Section C of the professional doctorate those trainees opting to follow this pathway exit HSST solely with a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership and Professionalism for Healthcare Sciences.

Entry to HSST Programme for Physical Sciences and Physiological Sciences