A Teesside cardiac physiologist has taken the leap in becoming a clinical scientist – something he never thought possible.
With more than 30 years in cardiology under his belt, lead echocardiographer Steve Hodgson, 50 from Sedgefield, pre-dated the route in taking the next step his career. But thanks to an equivalence programme, he can now proudly take on his new role as a clinical scientist.
Steve completed his training in 1990 – a BTec in medical physics and physiological measurement. This was followed by a HNC where he specialised in cardiac physiology.
Following a varied career in physiology, including in the RAF, he joined North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust in 2001 and has practised as lead echocardiographer at the Trust for over 10 years.
He had the knowledge, skills and experience to become a clinical scientist. But he missed one vital thing – the modern Masters degree to get him there.
What does being a clinical scientist mean for Steve?
So in January 2022, he took it upon himself work towards obtaining a Certificate of Equivalence. His application was approved. And now, as a clinical scientist, Steve has applied to join the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) register. This is the registered national body for medical professionals, including clinical scientists.
Steve is still thinking about the different paths this new opportunity opens up to him. However, a next potential step could be to become a consultant echocardiographer.
He said: “Although the majority of my career is behind me now, being a clinical scientist gives me the scope to develop my own career further and lead my colleagues who are the future of cardiac physiology and science. It means I’m able to become a prescriber, consent patients for procedures, and take more opportunities to progress my role to include tasks more traditionally performed by doctors.
“I’m the first cardiac physiologist in the Trust to do this and I’m hoping others will follow. It’s been hard work but I don’t think that should put anyone off – it’s a fantastic opportunity.”
Regulated by the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS), Steve completed a 5,000 word assignment. He provided more than 100 pieces of evidence that he meets all standards required to complete the Scientist Training Programme.
This was followed by a panel interview in December and Steve has since been granted his Certificate of Equivalence.
The certificate is granted to those who have qualifications and professional experience that pre-date current standards. It eliminates the need for repeating education and training.
Holding us to account
Following his acceptance to the HCPC register, being part of the regulatory body also means being held to account for his actions – something Steve is a proud believer in.
Steve continued: “As an organisation, we have to think about the impact we have on patients. And we have to hold ourselves accountable. That’s really important.
“I’ve always believed myself and all my colleagues in the physiological sciences should be regulated by a body which has patient safety as its number one priority.
“Being part of a registered body now means that patients can be reassured that the professional doing their diagnostic tests is registered. It holds you accountable for your actions and makes sure you’re adhering to their standards.”