One of the bonuses I got from working before beginning my PhD was that through my job I applied for and was awarded the Registered Scientist (RSci) professional recognition award by the Society of Biology (SoB). Before joining the SoB I was (and still am) a member of the Society for General Microbiology (SGM) and I wanted to let you guys know a little about Professional registration, how to get it, maintain it and why you should bother.
How to get it:
I was lucky enough to go through a fast track process organised by my employer where I submitted evidence in advance and then had an interview with a panel to determine whether or not I was qualified to receive the RSci award. We were fast tracked as there were several of us applying for either RSci or RsciTech (one step down) however you can apply individually through the SoB website. The interview (or individual evidence submission) is a process to assess how well you understand whatever work it is you undertake, those who know how to do their job well and contribute to improving their team in some way (improving a method or protocol for example) will likely get the RSciTech award although the SoB does state that graduates should aim for the RSci award. I personally think this is very dependent on what job you are doing as you need to be able to demonstrate certain skills and unfortunately some non-research based science jobs may not let you do this (at least not when you’re a relatively new starter). The RSci level is awarded if you can demonstrate a full understanding of your work and WHY you do what you do. This is really important as if you cannot show you understand your methods, no matter how good you are at doing them, you aren’t demonstrating any higher skills.
I never use the letters after my name but for explanation RSci means registered scientist and AMSB means Associate Member of the Society of Biology.
Maintaining my RSci registration is a really simple process, every year I must earn 50 CPD (continuing professional development) points. I earn CPD points in a variety of ways such as training, attending conferences or seminars, work shadowing and supervising colleagues and students (amongst other things). Once I have completed an activity I can add it to my online CPD record that will automatically work out how many points an activity is worth based on time spent and activity type. Some of my CPD points were earnt at my previous job however since starting my PhD I have really been able to fill up this years record – I already have close to 100 points, double what I need with 174 days to go. This shows how much Leicester is offering me in terms of growing outside of my lab based work. The bulk of what I’ve earnt has been through training courses the university offers, but I’ve also been to seminar days and even writing this blog counts! You are limited on how many points you can earn in a particular category, for example I can only earn 10 points/year from the “other” category which would include my blog but 30 points/year from formal & educational activities.
Why you should bother:
- It looks good on your CV – being able to say you are a member of a professional body shows you engage with your subject outside of what is directly required of you and the CPD shows you’re actively working on your skills. If you ever apply for an NHS job (in some area’s) there is a specific box for professional registration and being able to fill it will look much better!
- Maintaining a CPD is really great for recording what you have achieved and also highlighting area’s you may need to put more effort into.
- It teaches you to plan – as you cannot earn all your CPD points from any one category
- You can move up levels – my next level will be either Chartered Biologist or Chartered Scientist (depending on which I decide is most appropriate). Filling in your CPD provides evidence for attaining the next level.