Applying for the NHS Scientist Training Programme 2022

Scientist with test tubes

Last updated 25 January 2022

*NEW* Full list of MAHSE Open Day online talks and link to official SJT sample questions

The NHS Scientist Training Programme 2022 (STP) opened for applications today (18 January) and closes at 4pm on Tuesday, 1 February. 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.

This blog post will help you navigate the process and we will update it when there is new information to share with you.

N.B. Some of the resources mentioned in this blog may only be accessible to University of Manchester students. If you are not a Manchester student, contact your own Careers Service about the support available to you.

We counted just over 190 vacancies on the site when it went live, though in the past others have been added before the closing date (we have heard they plan to make 400 job offers this year, though they do have in-service applicants too). The North West has 36 vacancies but be aware that not all specialisms are available in every region, and some specialisms are clustered in a couple of locations (this year many of the medical physics and radiotherapy training posts are in the North East, Yorkshire and the East of England).

Chart showing STP vacancies in 2022 by specialism

Tips for applying

There are changes to the process this year and we strongly advise that you read all info on the National School of Healthcare Science’s STP website thoroughly.

  • You will only be able to choose ONE speciality.
  • The three essay questions have been merged into two, with ‘transferable skills and physical requirements’ now being one 500-word section.
  • The Situational Judgement Test that was abandoned last year is back. This time you complete it AFTER you have submitted your application between the 8 -11 February.
  • The SJT will be used for ‘longlisting’ of applicants. Shortlisting will be done by clinical scientists’ review of applications.
  • Interviews will be held online by two scientists from the employing department.
  • As last year, if you are offered an interview with an employer this will be your ONLY interview for the STP programme. If you decline this offer of an interview, you will leave the selection process for 2022.

How to make a strong application

The official Health Education England STP Webinar for 2022 (delivered on 17 January) can be viewed online and includes a Q&A session with recruitment staff.

The Careers Service online workshop on Applying for the NHS STP on Wednesday, 19 January from 2-3pm can be viewed on university’s Video Portal. (Graduates please email for access). A list of questions asked during the session can be found here.

GET UP-TO-DATE: Invest some time reviewing the information for applicants on the National School of Healthcare Science website – and use it in your application. Read the job description and person spec to get an overview of the role, then thoroughly research the specialism you plan to apply for e.g. check out the relevant professional body for each specialism. The STP curriculum library is useful to gain insight into the rotation and specialist modules for each speciality. NB. you need to be prepared to travel during training as a rotation might take you to a partner hospital.

GET THE INSIDE TRACK: Try to attend an ‘open day’ event. If you cannot attend, some may put the talks on their website after the event. The Manchester Academy for Healthcare Science Education (MAHSE) will be providing online talks – details below. Alternatively, see if you can speak to someone on the programme – use LinkedIn’s alumni search tool to find Manchester graduates on the STP. Check out social media sites like the NSHCS on Twitter.

MAHSE (North West) Live Online ‘Open Day’ Talks
These will take place on Zoom w/c 24 January and will be followed by a Q&A. They will be recorded and uploaded to their website afterwards (Monday’s audiology talk is available now). Full details here

GET READY FOR THE SJT: Spend some time getting familiar with Situational Judgement Tests. SJTs can be tricky and – contrary to popular belief – you need to do some preparation if you want to do well at them.

SJTs assess how you would respond to a hypothetical situation. Advice from the STP webinar in 2021 was to “reflect on your own values and behaviours… and consider what is important to patients”.

Work through the SJT sample questions now available on the Pearson Vue website. There are also some FAQs to help you.

Read the NHS Constitution, reflect on what you have learnt about the role of healthcare scientists in the NHS. Digest the STP job description and person specification thoroughly.

We have some great SJT resources on our website including some FREE practice tests on the Graduates First site (which also explain the “right” answers) and an online talk from our psychometric test experts at the Careers Service.

The questions…

In this part of the application, you are asked to present evidence of how you meet the core person specification for a trainee clinical scientist. There are two parts:

  1. Scientific skills (500 words)
  2. Transferable skills and Physical requirements (500 words)

You are asked not to write anything about your qualifications here as it is covered elsewhere on the form (so make sure you complete those sections properly).

In each section, you need to write a reflective piece on how you meet that element of the person specification. The good news is you don’t have to cover every element of the person specification but rather select those which, in your view, best reflect your strengths (having of course informed that view by doing some prior research). To quote their webinar, you need to show you have the potential to ‘fly through the programme’.

Please ensure you make your application specific to the scientific speciality you are applying for. This is key to getting to the next round so give it some focus, people!

Scotland and Wales

Scotland and Wales recruit separately to England.

For Scotland, you apply for an individual trainee position. Some Medical Physics have already been published (deadline 4 February), with ‘further specialities to follow’. The guidance for applicants is less comprehensive than for England so use the NSHCS resources above to help you!

In the past, Wales have advertised their STP vacancies later than the UK (recruitment is coordinated by Health Education and Improvement Wales). You might want to bookmark the NHS jobs website…

We’ll update this blog as new information becomes available. In the meantime, good luck!

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