Postgraduate Preceptorship

One of the SCST Annual Update sections most relevant to PTP students was based around postgraduate preceptorship. Delivered by Sophie Blackman, of Boston Scientific and the SCST, the talk went through the updates regarding the assessment and accreditation that a newly qualified physiologist can obtain, in conjunction with the council. Sophie stated that she has been quite heavily involved in the production of this framework, and proceeded to outline its intricacies.

The preceptorship programme is relevant to PTP students, because it is aimed specifically at us once we are “let loose”, as it were, into clinical practice. The SCST has received a great deal of feedback from around the country, pertaining to the varying levels at which new healthcare scientists are emerging from their academic study and also feedback from students themselves, on what they feel they need by way of support from the governing body. I for one, can appreciate this; I’m terrified of graduating. I’m confident in my own skills, thus far, and whilst I don’t think that fear will ever go away, I think it’s beneficial for newly qualified HCS to have someone outside of their department that can help them make that transition from student to professional. This nationwide initiative will help to provide this support for the individual, but will also ensure there is an equitable workforce in practice.

The programme itself is based around the individual, and is likely to take anywhere from six months, to two years, based on proficiency. Much like in your current degrees (if you’re a student), the programme features competencies and case based discussions, but in this case, they are undertaken as you perform a job at which you are already doing. Upon “qualification” (this may seem like an odd word to use, given the fact that the practitioner is already qualified, but bear with me…), the student will receive a certificate displaying their confidence in a particular discipline, and that can not only demonstrate a willingness on the practitioner’s part to be the best that they can be, but it will further cement that person’s knowledge and skills base to aid them in their position, thereby helping them, to a point, to leave the student role behind them.

The implication was that if you, as a new HSP, want to make that leap to the STP programme, or follow a different career framework, then this accreditation will assist in identifying your individual fortes, and allow you to perhaps see what pathway you would be best suited to.

The full texts relevant to students are given below:

Preceptorship Framework

Preceptorship guidance for HSPs

For more information, visit the SCST preceptorship page:


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Have You Ever Tested A Robot? Pt II

I still haven’t.

Bear with me, though, as this is going somewhere, I swear.

After the last session, in which I provided the robot’s voice and controlled its HR and ECG, it dawned on me that as a result, everyone had the opportunity to be filmed performing the test and gain valuable group feedback, except me.

I wasn’t the only one to notice this, as it transpired.

During a subsequent lab session, wherein we practiced manual BP, honed bedside manner, discussed contraindications and compared different methods of BP measurement, it was revealed that the remainder of our ECG feedback period would be completed in the lab. We no longer had immediate access to the simulation mannequin, so thanks to a willing volunteer, another of my colleagues was able to complete the procedure and again receive feedback in a partitioned area of the lab.

Then it was my turn to step up to the plate.

I was the last to ‘go’, as it were. The difference between my assessment and the other’s lies in that everyone else enjoyed an element of seclusion: the curtains around the bed-space being pulled in the first session and the high walls that separated one section of the lab from the other, in the second. The rest of the group stayed outside of these boundaries in everyone else’s case. Not for me, though. I stood away from the couch, preparing to make my entrance to the imaginary treatment room I could see in front of me and just before I could open the invisible door, the consultant physiologist taking the session said “Wait, I’m just going to call everyone else in, if that’s ok?”

“…If that’s ok”, as if I had a choice.

Everyone else filed in. They kept filing in for what felt like an age. My lecturer, the rest of my class and the head of physiology. Then, they all looked at me, waiting.

I’m not sure how I’d have fared if I’d known this was going to be the format for my peer assessment, but I feel no shame in admitting that I don’t remember ever being as scared as I was before I started moving. I didn’t know how to begin, so I just went for it. I walked into the ‘room’ (after, somewhat embarrassingly, opening the invisible door) and performed the test as I would out on placement.

I asked all the required questions and added one or two patient identifiers to account for the fact that I didn’t call my patient from any waiting room and gained a consented, accurate trace.

Not only did I do it all with the eyes of more than a couple of people scrutinising my every move, I did it with a piece of equipment I have never used before and the most tentacle-like cable configuration I’ve ever seen in my life- if you’ve tried to untangle the wires behind your television when you’re moving house, you’ll know what I mean but, trust me, this was worse. In addition, I managed to ignore a completely new experience: the fact that I was so scared that the back of my neck was sweating..!

Fear is natural. It’s normal to be scared of doing something that’s relatively new to you, especially when you know you’ll be watched and judged doing it. Whatever ‘it’ is, it wouldn’t feel like a real achievement if we didn’t feel fear beforehand. I’m glad it was sprung on me, if I’m honest. My final assessments and various practical examinations for the rest of my career will follow this format so it’s good to have a grasp on some of the emotions I’ll be feeling before them. If you’re just beginning the PTP programme, you’ve got things like this to look forward to, so just try to enjoy it. Realise that the fear of these things is normal and, most importantly, the sooner you take a deep breath and swallow the lump in your throat, the sooner they’ll be over!


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