How to become a Surgical Care Practitioner (SCP)

How to become a Surgical
Care Practitioner (SCP)
Use the following flow chart as a guide to becoming an SCP
What are the basic requirements for training as an SCP
Registered healthcare professional (eg: registered nurse, registered operating department
practitioner, registered physiotherapist).
Experience of caring for surgical patients since qualifying (recommended minimum
12 months).
Clinical supervisor support from Consultant grade surgeon.
Support from manager and agreed funding for job.
Clinical access to patients in clinics, wards and operating theatres.
Linked to a Surgical Team.
Acceptance on academic training course.
Appropriate indemnity cover.
What is the minimum academic standard for training?
The minimum academic standard for the Surgical Care Practitioner programme is
undergraduate degree level (level 6); the University of Plymouth programme is provided
at masters level (level 7).
Studies are normally undertaken part-time, which means attending set study days whilst
also fulfilling a clinical role.
The complete training for an SCP is now recommended to continue for 2 years.
Many training posts have the academic training course as a condition of employment.
What type of assessment does the course involve?
Although the courses vary there will be methods of assessment in theory and in practice.
These usually incorporate academic writing such as essays and reflection to demonstrate
knowledge and understanding, as well as witnessed assessment of competence in the
clinical situation.
A range of skills and activities will be assessed across all areas where the SCP might work
(pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative care). The minimum expected standard
is stated as:
“The assessment of operative skills will meet the same standard as that for surgeons in
training who are performing the same procedures” (DH 2006).
Use the following flow chart as a guide to becoming an SCP
5: Would you prefer/need to change employer?
1: Do you fulfil the basic requirements for training as an SCP?
(see Training standards and requirements)
Don’t know
But they DON’T have SCP
posts here
They have SCP posts here
I am not registered as a healthcare professional
Go to Question 2
You must become a registered healthcare professional before
commencing training as a Surgical Care Practitioner.
The SCP role isn’t recognised here
You need to discuss with employer and present information to
investigate possibility or apply for advertised post elsewhere.
I don’t have experience of working in the operating theatres
This is not necessary as long as you have experience of working
with surgical patients, eg: on surgical wards.
How do I know if I have got appropriate
indemnity insurance?
Apply for an advertised position.
Apply for an advertised
As a registered nurse or ODP it is unlikely
that the standard indemnity insurance
that you may have will be sufficient
to cover you for the Surgical Care
Practitioner role.
Ask your current employer/
surgeons if interested in
developing an SCP role
Contact other SCPs for advice
Put together an outline
business plan.
Advice can be given from any of
the indemnifiers.
The organisations that offer sufficient
clinical indemnity insurance are either
Medical Defence Union or Medical
Protection Society.
6: How do I get on an academic training course?
I DO NOT have an SCP training post
I have an SCP training post
I am not on an academic course
Find out which institutions run this course and apply once you
have got an agreed post.
2: Are you sure you know what the SCP role entails?
Apply direct to the Higher Education Institution offering the course
Discuss with your manager about developing this role
Entry criteria will vary, but usually require previous academic experience,
evidence of training post.
Go to Question 5.
Don’t know
7: Can I do anything before I start the course?
No / Not sure
Go to Question 3
Search internet for more information, eg: definition and role, key organisations and advice, prepare for your
application and interview. Read The Curriculum Framework for Surgical Care Practitioners (DH 2006).
3: Have you already done further training related to surgery?
If you have some time before the course starts
If you have not studied academically for a while
It is useful to have done one of the short Skills courses, offered by NAASP or
RCS, before starting your academic course.
An academic skills refresher course that incorporates literature searching,
essay writing skills, and reflection would be very beneficial.
Don’t know
No / Not sure - what training might I have done?
Go to Question 4
Common examples are: Advanced Scrub Practitioner course; Extended Skills for the Advanced Scrub Practitioner
course; RCS Basic Surgical Skills course or NAASP Key Instructions in Surgical Skills course.
4: Are you sure this is the role for you?
Apply for an advertised position
Ask your current employer/surgeons if
interested in developing an SCP role.
Don’t know
Not sure
Apply for one of the courses listed above in Question 3 to gain some experience of extending your existing
skills and the academic knowledge expected.
Faculty of Health University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth. PL4 8AA. 
Tel: +44 (0)1752 586723
E-mail: [email protected]
If you require any part of this leaflet in larger print, please contact
admissions, contact details above.
Redesigned with kind permission from NAASP