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What's the difference between clinical scientist - genomics vs - cancer genomics?

I'm from overseas and medical laboratory professions are regulated very differently comparing with in the UK. So I need some help here:

1. I wonder what's the difference between clinical scientist - genomics vs clinical scientist - cancer genomics, particularly in terms of their scope of practice, and technical skills? Do they require basically the same technical skills (i.e. both require molecular genetics methods such as PCR, and cytogenetics methods such as FISH), or clinical scientist - genomics only requires molecular genetics methods while clinical scientist - cancer genomics only requires cytogenetics methods?

2. Could a clinical scientist - genomics conduct and interpret molecular testing based on microbiology/virology samples (e.g. conducting and interpreting COVID PCR test based on a swap sample)?

3. Could a clinical scientist - cancer genomics be admitted into Higher Specialist Scientist training (HSST) in clinical biochemistry or toxicology without any further education/qualification in clinical biochemistry or toxicology?

4. For the fellowship training and exam of different specialties offered by RCP, could a candidate with science degree only (i.e. no medical degree) to be trained as a chemical pathologist, or such candidate can only be trained in a HSST disciplines, (i.e. those marked with HSST on the page
https://www.rcpath.org/trainees/training/training-by-specialty.html , such as clinical biochemistry)?
I'm a biochemist so don't know the exact answers to most of these but seeing as your question has been unanswered for a couple of weeks I’ll have a go.

1. I’d check the current curricula for both of these which are freely available on the National School of Healthcare Science website see https://curriculumlibrary.nshcs.org.uk/stp/specialty/SLS4-3-22/ for cancer genomics and https://curriculumlibrary.nshcs.org.uk/stp/specialty/SLS4-1-22/ for genomics.

2. I think this would usually fall under microbiology who would do infectious disease PCR e.g. hepatitis C routinely.

3. Possibly but very unlikely, you’d have to be lucky and would have to complete the STP in cancer genomics then get a job as a clinical scientist in a biochemistry lab (you would be eligible to apply from a legal standpoint but if they had any candidates with a background in biochemistry they'd be very unlikely to hire you as the STPs are completely different) and train for a few years before going down the HSST route. The HSST builds on the skills and knowledge of the STP so it’s difficult to do one without a deep understanding of the specialist area. I know someone who graduated the biochemistry STP but has now switched to immunology but the disciplines are much more closely related.

4. In short, no, chemical pathologists are medically trained so are required to go through the whole doctor training first. HSST is only available for clinical scientists, but this isn’t a requirement for consultant jobs at the moment. You can sit the relevant RCP exam provided you have a sponsor but they’re very difficult without a support network, cost ~£600-£700 each time and you only get four attempts so you really don’t want to sit them unless you’re sure you have a chance at passing!


Hope this helps.
Reply 2
Original post by Pleiotropic
I'm a biochemist so don't know the exact answers to most of these but seeing as your question has been unanswered for a couple of weeks I’ll have a go.

1. I’d check the current curricula for both of these which are freely available on the National School of Healthcare Science website see https://curriculumlibrary.nshcs.org.uk/stp/specialty/SLS4-3-22/ for cancer genomics and https://curriculumlibrary.nshcs.org.uk/stp/specialty/SLS4-1-22/ for genomics.

2. I think this would usually fall under microbiology who would do infectious disease PCR e.g. hepatitis C routinely.

3. Possibly but very unlikely, you’d have to be lucky and would have to complete the STP in cancer genomics then get a job as a clinical scientist in a biochemistry lab (you would be eligible to apply from a legal standpoint but if they had any candidates with a background in biochemistry they'd be very unlikely to hire you as the STPs are completely different) and train for a few years before going down the HSST route. The HSST builds on the skills and knowledge of the STP so it’s difficult to do one without a deep understanding of the specialist area. I know someone who graduated the biochemistry STP but has now switched to immunology but the disciplines are much more closely related.

4. In short, no, chemical pathologists are medically trained so are required to go through the whole doctor training first. HSST is only available for clinical scientists, but this isn’t a requirement for consultant jobs at the moment. You can sit the relevant RCP exam provided you have a sponsor but they’re very difficult without a support network, cost ~£600-£700 each time and you only get four attempts so you really don’t want to sit them unless you’re sure you have a chance at passing!


Hope this helps.

Thanks I think your response is amazing. I hope you could elaborate these points more:

(1). "HSST... isn’t a requirement for consultant jobs at the moment." Does this mean a person who only has clinical scientist registration without FRCP or Doctor of Clinical Science etc can practice as a consultant clinical scientist (for example, a clinical scientist with some on the job informal training to conduct some of the consultant clinical scientist responsibilities)?

(2) "You can sit the relevant RCP exam provided you have a sponsor but they’re very difficult without a support network..." what is "a sponsor" and "a support network" here?

(3) "you only get four attempts" so 4 attempts per person per life? Do I need both FRCP and a qualification (e.g. DClinSc or AHCS certificate or the The Association of Clinical Scientists certificate) to be a consultant clinical scientist, or I just need any one of them?
A small distinction, it's FRCPath (Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists) that's useful, not FRCP (Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians) for these jobs.

1) You would almost certainly need FRCPath and clinical scientist registration but you don't need to go through the HSST route to get them. The HSST structures the pathway and gets a training budget etc.

2) A sponsor is someone to sign off that you're ready to go for the exam, it's usually someone with full FRCPath accreditation. By a support network I mean having people around you who can help to answer questions and give you advice on how to do the exams, I'd have found it impossible to get through without them.

3) For most disciplines FRCPath is 2-3 exams, each one gives you 4 goes (per person per life, although you can try to ask for extra attempts if needed). You only need to pass the STP/equivalent routes (I think it's the AHCS certificate you're referring to) to be a clinical scientist, you then normally need to pass the first bit of FRCPath to get to the intermediate jobs and full FRCPath along with everything previously to go for consultant jobs. A doctorate is useful for consultant jobs but usually they also say "equivalent experience" is acceptable.

Again, this is my experience in biochemistry and a few related disciplines, I can't speak for genomics specifically.

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