What is a Clinical Technologist apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships (including degree level apprenticeships) are seen as providing the possibility of recruiting and retaining local staff in the context of ongoing staff shortages.
Degree apprenticeships are an employer-led alternative to the traditional method of training to become a Clinical Technologist (or “healthcare science practitioner”) in nuclear medicine (i.e. a three to four year BSc in Clinical Technology). To undertake/study a Clinical Technologist apprenticeship it is necessary for a prospective student to find an employer (i.e. an NHS Trust) offering a degree apprenticeship in this discipline
Degree apprenticeships are an opportunity for students to gain a full bachelor's degree (at NQF Level 6) with the tuition fees being paid for out of the employers’ Apprenticeship Levy. The student will be at a considerable advantage compared to those following the traditional training system as they will study whilst earning a salary.
What is the Apprenticeship Levy?
From April 2017 all employers in any sector with a pay bill of more than £3 million a year have had to pay an apprenticeship levy of 0.5% of their annual pay bill to HM Revenue and Customs. Funding for apprenticeships is awarded and allocated by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). This funding can be used to pay for degree tuition fees (but not the apprentice’s salary).
How does the apprenticeship work?
In 2017 the degree apprenticeship standard for healthcare science practitioners (which includes clinical technologists working in nuclear medicine) was published. The training will typically take a minimum of 36 months to complete and will lead to a BSc (Honours) degree in healthcare science. Apprenticeships for healthcare science practitioners are accredited by the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) through the Healthcare Science Practitioner Training Programme (PTP).
Designed in partnership with employers, part-time study takes place at a university or college, with the rest of the apprentice’s time being with the employer (i.e. in the nuclear medicine department). Apprentices are expected to spend the majority (80%) of their time during their apprenticeship in the workplace.
Apprentice Clinical Technologists will typically be employed at an AfC Band 5(trainee annex) grade for the duration of the three years although exact terms and conditions may vary between organisations (e.g. a post-registration year may be included). Apprentices should be assigned a training supervisor or Clinical Tutor in the workplace. After successfully completing their apprenticeship programme, graduates are eligible to apply for the Register of Clinical Technologists (RCT) and/or the Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS) Practitioners Register.
Who should I speak to if I want to establish a Clinical Technologist Apprenticeship in my department?
The simplest way is to convert a vacant post into an apprenticeship post. Your first port of call should be your organisation’s Educational or Training Manager who can offer advice and lead you through the process. Many Universities and Higher Education Establishments (HEIs) are already involved in the delivery of apprenticeship programmes for practising healthcare support workers (i.e. healthcare assistants at AfC Bands 2-3). A Healthcare Science Degree Apprenticeship programme in nuclear medicine is offered currently by the University of Cumbria with other HEIs expected to follow.
Nick Gulliver, King's College Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust. December 2017