NHS Scientist Training Programme – what is it and how do I apply?

The NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) is a fantastic opportunity to develop your skills and expertise for a fulfilling career as a healthcare scientist. The training programme is three years long and includes invaluable work-based and academic learning. Whilst on the programme you will also complete a part-time master’s degree. The aim of the STP is to attract, select and retain the very best people to clinical scientist posts.

There are a whole range of specialisms to choose from for the STP, from audiology to clinical informatics and medical physics to haematology. You can see the whole list here. But whichever you choose, all of them have a strong clinical base, develop leadership and managerial skills and have a research project which leads to an MSc in Clinical Sciences.

“What will I actually be doing?” I hear you ask. Well, in your first year you’ll undertake 4 rotations, each of 4-12 weeks. These are usually in hospital environments but can sometimes be in the private sector. In your second and third year, you’ll take specialist modules, complete a research project and have the chance to do a 4-6-week elective. Past students have done electives in Vienna, Kenya, Dublin and even with the BBC, looking at how science is presented in the media.

Once you’ve completed the 3-year STP, you’ll be fully qualified to apply for permanent clinical scientist positions. In these roles, you’ll be presented with even more opportunities to develop and take on further responsibilities leading to consultant positions, heads of departments or maybe even director of a whole service. It’s a great career pathway with lots of things to do.

If that all sounds great to you, then you might want to think about applying. Most successful applicants have a postgraduate qualification in a relevant science degree, however a good number of recent undergraduates also get onto the programme. (If you are an undergraduate, you might want to consider applying for the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (KURF) to gain more research experience.) Successful candidates are also organised and reliable, have excellent team-working skills and have high levels of resilience. (To find out more about what it means to be resilient and how to translate that in your applications, be sure to attend one of our Resilience Workshops.)

The recruitment process involves a standard application and an aptitude test. The application involves questions asking for 250-word answers. Before you submit, why not book an appointment with one of our Application Advisers to go through your responses? Book through Kings CareerConnect. Shortlisted candidates will then be interviewed in April (be sure to book a Practice Interview with us to maximise your chances) and successful candidates will start the programme in September. More details on how to apply can be found here.

But in the meantime, here are some handy tips:

  • You can apply for 2 specialisms and there is no penalty for applying for 2, but do try to explain why you are applying for both.
  • Key experience to highlight in your application is any work you’ve done with patients, any work or volunteering that has a clinical element, any leadership roles, or times where you have been a mentor to peers or children for example.
  • Make your application engaging, energetic and enthusiastic – remember, STP applications assessors will be reading around 100 each.

Applications are open now and the closing date for this year’s intake is 8 February.