Certification/Registration of SIRT members
In New Zealand, the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Bill (2003) stipulates that all health practitioners must demonstrate their competence in order to be issued an Annual Practicing Certificate. In order to fulfil this requirement, IVF Scientists are required to be registered by the New Zealand Institute of Medical Laboratory Science (NZIMLS).
In contrast in Australia, there are no legislative requirements for IVF Scientists to be registered or certified. However SIRT members have long been calling for improved professional recognition of IVF scientists in Australia, and therefore the development of a certification scheme was prioritised by the SIRT committee. As a first step, SIRT developed a SIRT Competency Scheme in 2017 (see below), with the aim of promoting an independent national scheme in the long-term. This aim has now finally been realised.
Australian Council for Certification of the Medical Laboratory Scientific Workforce
The Australian Council for Certification of the Medical Laboratory Scientific Workforce (ACCMLSW) is a newly created not-for-profit company established to administer the voluntary certification scheme for medical scientists and technical officers. It is wonderful that after more than two years of hard work by volunteers from the various member organisations (inlcuding SIRT with support from the FSA) that this scheme is now ready to launch. Medical scientists from other disciplines shared the desire expressed by IVF Scientists for an independent Certifcation Scheme.
Member organisations making up the Council include the Australasian Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Australian Institute of Medical Scientists, Australian Society of Cytology, Human Genetics Society of Australasia, Fertility Society of Australia/SIRT, Thrombosis Haemostasis Society of Australia and NZ, Australasian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Australian Society for Microbiology, and Australian and NZ Society for Blood Transfusion. Each member organisation has a representative on the interim Board and has contributed to the implementation of the scheme. The current SIRT board representative is Dr. Kristy Demmers, Chair of SIRT.
Frequently asked questions (see also FAQ on the accmlsw website).
1. How much does it cost? Although the scheme officially launches in July 2020, the Scheme is open for applications to test our processes and iron out any bugs. In return for being our pilot testers, applications received before 30th June 2020 will enjoy a discount of 20% on the normal rate:
Pilot testing rate: $160 (excl. GST) for two years for a Medical Scientist and $145 (excl. GST) for two years for a Technical Officer).
From 1st July 2020: $200 (excl. GST) for two years for a Medical Scientist and $180 (excl. GST) for two years for a Technical Officer).
2. Why become certified? Certification as a medical laboratory professional is a public guarantee of competency and continued professional development. It is a formal recognition of scientific qualifications, aligned with competency development and assessment processes and acknowledges participation in continuing educational activities. The scheme will increase the professional credibility and prestige of Medical Scientists in Australia.
Employers can look to certification as a desirable attribute during the recruitment process. As the scheme becomes establised, online competency assessment tools will be developed to enable demonstration of continued competence of employees in a standardised way, reducing administrative burden. Certified Medical professionals are listed on the official ACCMLSW register, easily searchable by employers, accrediting bodies and other interested parties.
As this is a voluntary scheme, we are relying on your support to make this a success!
3. What are the minimum requirements?
For Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS), a relevant degree in Science or Applied Science (AQF Level 7 or above) which would permit membership as a scientist of a member organisation.
For a Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT), documentary evidence of completing a relevant VET sector course at AQF 5 or 6 which would permit membership as a technical officer of a member organisation (or higher relevant qualification such as a science degree).
Evidence of minimum 2 years relevant recent experience.
Willingness to agree to the Code of Conduct/Ethics.
Declaration of competency assessment and experience by applicant's supervisor using the form available on the website.
CPD Certificate from an accredited CPD provider (e.g. APACE) or an outline of CPD activities undertaken in the previous 2 years.
4. Can scientists that are not working directly on the bench day to day e.g. an industry technical support specialist or a quality officer, apply for certification? Yes they can provided they meet all the current criteria. The competency sign off by their supervisor states that they are competent “against their current role and position description within the last 12 months and that they demonstrate safe and ethical practice” so this will cover those in associated industries and roles.
5. Can Clinical Scientists or senior scientists apply for certification? They definitely can. At the moment there is no specific category however they will meet all the current criteria to be certified as a medical laboratory scientist. More certification categories will be introduced at a later date however the scheme has been launched twith the two categories of MLS and MLT to start the ball rolling.
SIRT Professional Competency Certification Scheme (2017)
The SIRT Professional Competency Certification Scheme was launched by SIRT in 2017, as a first step to enable Australian and New Zealand IVF scientists to be certified for their skills and recognised for their competencies. Further details are available in the members-only section of the SIRT website.