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 About Equivalence

As well as a new career framework and training routes, the work in relation to Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) provided equivalence arrangements to allow entry to and progression through the career framework without the need for unnecessary retraining.

The national consultation on the MSC proposals in 2008 identified strong support for a system of equivalence that recognises educational qualifications, and accreditation of prior experiential learning and is applicable to all levels and stages of the Healthcare Science Career Framework.

Further policies in relation to the implementation of equivalence were produced as a result of MSC. These policies identified the AHCS as the UK wide organisation that would perform the equivalence process. These policies have been used to inform the process the AHCS has developed to assess equivalence.

The main career levels in Healthcare Science

Career Level Role activities Education and Training route
Assistant Undertake clearly defined task and protocol based, high volume, low risk activities. Training through workplace based structured training and Apprenticeships Apprenticeships, NVQs (or equivalent) underpinned by an awards and qualifications framework
Associate Undertake more advanced and complex high volume low risk investigative tasks. Training through workplace training and Foundation degree Foundation Degrees, Apprenticeships and NVQs (or equivalent) underpinned by an awards and qualifications framework
Practitioner Apply technology, in the delivery & reporting of quality assured tests, investigations & interventions. Activities outlined in ‘protocols -uses judgements & deals with ambiguity. Training through Practitioner Training Programme (PTP). Read more about the role of Practitioners. PTP (Practitioner Training Programme) – undergraduate degree with clinical placement
Clinical Scientist Complex scientific and clinical roles. High risk, low volume activities which require highly skilled staff able to exercise clinical judgement about complex facts and clinical situations. Training through Scientist Training Programme (STP) STP (Scientist Training Programme) – postgraduate degree (Masters-level) with clinical placement
Consultant Clinical  Scientist In-depth, highly complex role. Similar to medical consultant role as requires clinical judgement, scientific expertise, leadership and dealing with uncertainty in direct patient care. Training through Higher Specialist Training (HSST) programme. HSST (Higher Specialist Scientific Training) at doctorate level

Career and training pathways

What is Equivalence?

Equivalence exists when the outcomes of two processes are directly comparable even though the paths to achieving them are different. When equivalence is shown to exist between a new qualification and the qualification or experience an individual already has, repeated education or training becomes unnecessary

The AHCS has developed equivalence assessment processes for individuals who have undertaken training, hold qualifications and/or have considerable professional experience, and who wish to show that these are equivalent to the relevant practitioner, scientist or higher specialist science programmes accredited by the National School of Healthcare Science. There is also an equivalence assessment process for those working in the following roles: Anatomical Pathology Technologist, Genetic Technologist, Ophthalmic Science Practitioner, Tissue Bank Technologist via the Certificate of Competence. Further guidance is available on the Equivalence Guidance page.

Do I Need Equivalence?

The Government said in its response to the House of Commons Select Committee Report of Session 2014/15: Accountability hearing with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) that ‘the Academy for Healthcare Science Voluntary Register offers assurance that is appropriate and proportionate to the risks presented to public safety.’

Subsequently, the AHCS received accreditation for its register from the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). This means that the Academy has met the PSA’s demanding standards of governance. These include standards setting, education and training, management of the register, provision of information and complaints handling.

Thousands of people have applied for Equivalence through one of the AHCS’ programmes. Reasons for you to apply for the AHCS’ equivalence programmes may include:

  • Wishing to appear on an accredited Healthcare Science Register in order to show your commitment to maintaining standards of education, competence and conduct and providing assurance for employers, patients and the public.
  • As an alternative route to registration, rather than attending a formal NSHCS training programme; having trained before the current system of accredited training programmes for Healthcare Science began, and needing recognition of your training for further career progression.
  • Having significant experience as a scientist, but not in a health setting and wanting to undertake a Healthcare Science role.
  • Having trained in a country without accredited Healthcare Science education and training, and wishing to practise in the UK.

How Do I Demonstrate Equivalence?

To demonstrate equivalence, you need to provide evidence that you have the knowledge, skills and behaviours represented by the core standards in Good Scientific Practice (GSP), the relevant Standards of Proficiency where available, and the relevant NSHCS accredited healthcare science curriculum learning outcomes.  When an individual is assessed as meeting these criteria, they are issued with a Certificate of Equivalence. Applying for equivalence and submitting evidence is all undertaken via our online system.

The equivalence process varies depending on the level of equivalence being applied for. For example, not all the assessment processes include an interview. For more information, and to apply, please click here.

What Do I Achieve When I Successfully Demonstrate Equivalence?

The Certificate of Equivalence confers eligibility to apply for appropriate registration:

  • For individuals applying at practitioner programme level equivalence (PTPE), it provides eligibility to apply to join the AHCS register;
  • For individuals applying at scientist programme level equivalence (STPE), it provides eligibility to apply for statutory regulation with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Clinical Scientist – a legally-protected title;
  • For individuals applying at higher specialist scientist programme level equivalence (HSSE), it provides eligibility to apply to join the AHCS Register.

The Certificate of Competence provides Anatomical Pathology Technologists, Genetic Technologist, Ophthalmic Science Technologists, Tissue Bank Technologists eligibility to apply to join the AHCS Register.

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