This post has been updated for 2018 and can be viewed HERE
2017 STP – opened 16th January, closes Monday 13th February at 5pm
The NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) is open for applications! Thousands of scientists and engineers of all disciplines work for the NHS, and the STP is how they recruit most of their Clinical Science trainees each year.
Many Manchester students and postgrads apply to the STP, so we update this blog post each year to help you navigate the process. We will also update this post over the next few months when there is new information to share with you.
N.B. Some of the resources mentioned in this post may only be accessible by University of Manchester students. If you are not a Manchester student, have a chat with your own Careers Service about the support available to you.
UPDATE (Added 7/2/2017)
Scotland operate their own recruitment programme for Clincial Scientist Trainees and you can find details on the NHS Education for Scotland website. They tend to advertise their vacancies after England and Wales, and I spotted today that they have started advertising for Medical Physics trainees. They have 9-10 vacancies in the Grampian region and the closing date is the 1st March. Bookmark this page if you are interested in training north of the border!
UPDATE (Added 3/2/2017)
I have updated a short slide presentation with some extra tips on tackling the application form and online tests. If you are a University of Manchester Biological Sciences student, you should have been emailed the link already by your School. If you are a University of Manchester graduate, contact the Careers Information team to obtain access. If neither of these apply, contact your own uni careers service ‘cos they may have their own special help too!
Tips for applying
You have until 5pm on Monday 13th February at the latest to submit your online application and (for anyone who isn’t an in-service applicant) until 5pm on Wednesday 15th February to complete two online tests – but get in as soon as possible as applications are reviewed as they come in.
The National School of Healthcare Science website has so much information for applicants it can be overwhelming – however, if you want the best chance of getting into these super-competitive posts, you’ll hoover it all up and use the advice in your application. A good place to start is by reading the STP Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants 2017.
The list of specialisms by location will be updated throughout the application window, and includes a new specialism for this year, Andrology. The list was updated 6 times last year, so check back regularly for additional vacancies (as of 27 Feb, there were 255 posts across 24 specialisms). You’ll have to inspect each specialism individually, but as it’s better to focus on a specific specialism in your application, it does make sense. (Applying for lots of different specialisms just to train in a specific location has never been recommended, never mind the fact it’d be tricky to tailor your application for multiple specialisms given the word count for each section!).
We were told last year that only 3 candidates are interviewed per post, so the competition is red hot. You’ll therefore need some great answers to the essay questions, so set aside some time to do your research, think about your experience and craft your answers – you need to do yourself justice here.
Online application form
The online application form is near on identical to last year, so if you applied last year, you know what to expect. Frustratingly, there is still no easy way to preview all the questions before you start to fill it out – so we’ve had a sneaky peek for you.
As you go through the online form for the first time, you can’t advance on to the next page without completing the mandatory sections. However, you can review and change most of the answers once you get to the end – just don’t press “Submit” until you have filled it all in and checked it!
There are lots of mandatory sections, and once you fill in some answers, other mandatory questions may appear. Be prepared to answer A LOT of questions about eligibility, fitness to practise etc before you even get to the bit where you fill in your education! You also need to supply the details of three referees, one of whom must be your most recent education supervisor (or line manager, if you have graduated and are in work).
When your application form is read by the people who will shortlist candidates for interview, they will not be able to see the choices that candidates have made. Hence, if you choose two different specialisms your application will go to both short listing panels, who will not know if you have ranked that specialism as first or second choice. They also will not see any candidate names – it is done completely blind.
The form asks the same four questions as last year and, again, you are allowed a maximum of 250 words per answer. An implicit test here is whether you can write accurately AND concisely.
1. Your knowledge, motivation and commitment to the Training Programme
In less than 250 words, please state why you have applied for the Healthcare Scientist Training Programme. Give details of your motivation, suitability and future career development or aspirations. Describe what actions you have undertaken to increase your knowledge, experience and understanding of healthcare science and the training programme for your chosen specialism(s).
2. YOUR COMMITMENT TO HEALTHCARE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
In less than 250 words, please describe your commitment, interest and enjoyment of scientific practice and technology. Please provide examples of how you seek to develop, improve and adopt innovative processes in your work or studies.
3. VALUES AND BEHAVIOURS
The NHS Constitution* values and behaviours are paramount to the delivery of healthcare services. In less than 250 words please describe how within your own experience you would display these qualities.
(*Have you read it yet? You can find it here)
4. TEAM WORKING AND LEADERSHIP
In less than 250 words describe occasions where you have worked as part of a team and outline the skills you used to benefit the outputs of that team. Also, please describe a situation or situations when you have taken the opportunity to lead others and identify how you managed any challenges that arose.
There’s help on completing application forms on our website, including a useful hand-out. We definitely recommend taking the Context-Action-Result approach to structure your answers, to help keep them concise. Always take time to proof read your answers before you submit them (a good tip is to read them backwards to spot typos). University of Manchester students and recent graduates can get assistance from the Applications Advice service in the Atrium in University Place and also look out for Appointments in your School.
After you submitted your online application, you have two tests to complete before the deadline, and you have to get through each of these for your application to get considered.
The tests are numerical reasoning and logical reasoning, and you can practise here. We guess they’re using logical reasoning tests to find people who are good at spotting patterns and trends (useful for diagnostics) as well as deductive logic. These tests can be very challenging if you’re not familiar with them, so do take time to practice, especially as only one attempt is permitted per email address! Previous applicants tell us that with practice you can learn how to answer the logical reasoning questions accurately, so it is worth working your way through example tests.
You might also want to check out the psychometric test info on our website, including practice test materials. We have a new resource this year, Graduates First, which provides worked solutions for the answers you get wrong in its tests. I’d definitely suggest using a proper calculator when completing the numerical reasoning test and not the one on your ‘phone.
You’ll be able to do the STP tests at any time until the closing date but don’t leave it until the last minute: what would you do if you suddenly lost your internet connection or the site crashed with the weight of all the last minute tests being taken.
If you have a disability or a condition like dyslexia, you can request extra time to complete these tests. You’ll need to send evidence to support your request at least 3 working days before the aptitude tests deadline date i.e. the 11th February! If you fail to notify the team before the deadline date, you may not be granted the extra time you need.
- See Step 5 on the NSHCS “Applying to the progamme” page
- FAQs about psychometric tests on the Careers Service website
Being optimistic …
If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets invited to interview, you might want to check out the interview dates for your specialism and keep the date free – looks like there’s no flexibility, so move heaven and earth to get there if you get invited.
Good luck – we are rooting for you!