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Clinical Scientist Assessment by the ACS - the approved route to UK registration

Since April 2003, a route for registration as a clinical scientist with the Health & Care Professions Council (formally Health Professions Council) is through the award of the Association of Clinical Scientists' (ACS) Certificate of Attainment or (until July 2005) the "grandparenting" rules of HCPC. "Clinical Scientist" is a protected title and only statutory registered practitioners are able to use the title.

3-year Route ONE - Formal Training Pathway

For Clinical Scientists, UK applicants could go through the 3-year formal pre-registration clinical scientist training (formally Grade A) and then obtain a Certificate of Attainment following successful assessment by the ACS. Route ONE requires a full 3 years of training and experience (you cannot submit your application to the ACS until the full completion of this period) in the role of a trainee clinical scientist supervised by an already registered consultant clinical scientist or a medical consultant in the field. During the training period trainees will be collating evidence of their training and experience to create a portfolio which is submitted to the ACS for assessment by peers in the profession. The final bound portfolio MUST be between 40 and 80 numbered pages - 81-page portfolios will be rejected for your revision and resubmission without review by the assessors - this will entail an administration fee on top of your normal ACS fees. If the portfolio content is found to be acceptable by the assessors, the candidate is invited to a face to face interview with assessors over a period of approximately one hour. Processing by the ACS following initial acceptance of your submitted portfolios normally takes around 3 months to interview and decision on success of failure. This is an indicative timeframe only and it is recommended that you should aim to submit your application as soon as it is ready as interview assessments (though often during scheduled rounds) can take place at any time of year. You should aim to keep the ACS aware of any periods during which you will be unable to answer enquiries for supplementary information or attend an interview.
This interview is the assessment of your competence and will ensure you understand the need for registration and what it entails as well as review the data in your portfolio including general questions and examples of scenarios you might face in day to day work to ensure you are competent to cope with them. You do not receive a decision after the interview but will hear within a short period once the ACS Board have reviewed the assessors' interview report.
Successful candidates receive the ACS Certificate of Attainment which is an approved route to HCPC registration and will be submitted to HCPC with your application and fees.

6-year Route TWO - Informal Training Pathway

UK applicants who have not undertaken the formal training course may still enter the profession and become registered. This is an important route as some will come in following a more academic or research training or convert from Biomedical Scientist to Clinical Scientist. Because the training is more informal and less structured, these candidates must approach the ACS through Route TWO.
Route TWO requires a full 6 years of training and experience (you cannot submit your application to the ACS until the full completion of this period) of which a minimum of 3 full years must be in the role of a training clinical scientist supervised by an already registered consultant clinical scientist or a medical consultant in the field. During the training period trainees will be collating evidence of their training and experience to add to their earlier experience of the initial three years to create a portfolio which is submitted to the ACS for assessment by peers in the profession. The final bound portfolio MUST be between 80 and 160 numbered pages - 161-page portfolios will be rejected for your revision and resubmission without review by the assessors - this will entail an administration fee on top of your normal ACS fees. If the portfolio content is found acceptable by the assessors the candidate is invited to a face to face interview with assessors over a period of approximately 2 hours. Processing by the ACS following initial acceptance of your submitted portfolios normally takes around 3 months to interview and decision on success of failure. This is an indicative timeframe only and it is recommended that you should aim to submit your application as soon as it is ready as interview assessments (though often during scheduled rounds) can take place at any time of year. You should aim to keep the ACS aware of any periods during which you will be unable to answer enquiries for supplementary information or attend an interview.
This interview is the assessment of your competence and will ensure you understand the need for registration and what it entails as well as review the data in your portfolio including general questions and examples of scenarios you might face in day to day work to ensure you are competent to cope with them. You do not receive a decision after the interview but will hear within a short period once the ACS Board have reviewed the assessors' interview report.
Successful candidates receive the ACS Certificate of Attainment which is an approved route to HCPC registration and will be submitted to HCPC with your application and fees.

Assessment Fees

The fees for ACS assessment cover the costs of portfolio review and interview by your peers.  You must also cover the costs of printing, binding and delivery of the portfolio copies to the ACS Office as well as provide your additional expenses for travel to the interview. The application fees are subsidised for those members of constituent bodies of the Association of Clinical Scientists such as the ACB. While professional body membership is not essential for ACS applicants, members of those bodies would also obtain considerable support and guidance in the training and application process from membership of the professional body, as well as the considerable fee discount. Only Ordinary Members of the ACB qualify for a discount when applying for a biochemistry, immunology or microbiology assessment. Federation and Student members do not qualify for the professional body discount.
ACS application fees are reviewed annually and the current ones can be found on the ACS website.   

Registration Fees

Subsequent fees for registration are similarly reviewed annually and the current fees for UK applicants using the ACS Certificate of Attainment can be found on the HCPC website. This entails an initial Scrutiny fee plus a registration fee which is reduced to 50% if you apply within TWO years of obtaining your ACS Certificate.
All registrants must renew their registration every two years - this is YOUR responsibility and failure to comply with this would have implications for your work and your employer would need to take action. For Clinical Scientists this renewal is at the end of September in odd years - 2013, 2015, 2017 etc. This renewal can be done on-line through the HCPC website.
Full details and requirements of the 3- and 6-year ACS routes to statutory registration, together with relevant documentation are available on the ACS website, with particular attention given to the Application Documents and Full Document Set.
Details of the activities and responsibilities of the Health & Care Professions Council can be found in the Standards of Proficiency, Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, Standards of Continuing Professional Development and Standards of Education and Training which can all be found on the HCPC website and other links can be found in the box on the left.

(This page is maintained by the ACB Education Committee)

Updated 21st August 2012

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