arrow_leftarrow_rightburgerchevron_downchevron_rightdiscdownloadexternal_linksearchfacebookinstagramtwitteryoutubesquareuser-icon

Introduction

Here you fill find the following guidance for your career as a speech and language therapist, as it relates to the following areas:

  • Students
  • Newly Qualified Practitioners
  • Assistants
  • Independent SLTs
  • Managers and leaders
  • Overseas Qualified Practitioners
  • Career break
  • Working overseas

Please contact us for more information.

Related pages 

See also:

Students

Introduction

This section is for you if you are currently studying to be a Speech and Language Therapist.

Here you can find information about the support and resources available from the RCSLT, guidance on disability issues, and information on how you can get involved.

In this section you will find:

  • Resources for SLT students
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Curriculum guidance
  • RCSLT membership and insurance
  • Financial advice
  • Guidance on disability issues
  • CPD Diary and setting goals
  • RCSLT student roadshows
  • Video interviews with SLTs
  • Giving Voice 

Resources for SLT students

SLT student members are able to access all of the member resources, however you may find it particularly useful to look at the following:

Learning resources

Curriculum guidance

The RCSLT Curriculum guidance is used by education providers when developing pre-registration speech and language therapy courses. The guidance uses the RCSLT Core capabilities to provide guidance and support to education providers.

By completing a pre-registration course in speech and language therapy, the RCSLT envisages that all future new graduate SLTs will possess not only the distinctive skill set required to transform the lives of individuals with speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties, but also the capability to continue to develop transferable skills to lead change, evaluate, improve and evidence the impact of their contribution.

As a graduate SLT, you must be able to recognise and articulate the role that speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties play in and the ways in which SLTs can work for the benefit of individuals, communities and populations in emerging-practice areas.

The pre-registration course should also facilitate the development and attainment of:

  • a level of academic and clinical capability on completion of an approved qualification that is fit for professional practice
  • the capacity to continue to develop personal and professional skills within the community of SLT practitioners and the broader community of health, education and social care practitioners.

For more information, please see the full RCSLT Curriculum guidance.

CPD diary and setting goals

Students are encouraged to use the online CPD diary, although this is not mandatory.

It may be a useful reflection tool for your clinical placements.

Once you graduate you will need to use the CPD diary to complete the NQP framework so it is useful to familiarise yourself with the platform and start recording CPD activities as soon as you can.

As a student you can use the CPD diary to:

For more information, see Using you CPD diary.

For frequently asked questions about NQP goals and competencies, please see the FAQ document.

RCSLT membership and insurance

Find out more about the insurance included in your membership.

Financial advice

Find financial advice for students and prospective students.

Guidance on disability issues

The speech and language therapy workforce welcomes individuals from all sections of society, to study and join the profession.

RCSLT student roadshows

The RCSLT is keen to engage with all SLT students from an early stage, you are the SLTs of tomorrow and we are there to support you in your studies and throughout your career.

We offer each university a visit from RCSLT officers who will talk to students at both the start and end of their course. These visits provide information on the support and guidance that RCSLT can give, the benefits of RCSLT membership, and advice and guidance for you after you have graduated.

You can follow this on Twitter with the hashtag #RCSLTUniTour.

Video interviews with SLTs

Find out what previous students had to say about finding a job and transitioning from student to newly-qualified practitioners:

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

Giving Voice

Since the Giving Voice Campaign began, student speech and language therapists have led the way to show the vital work that speech and language therapists do. Visit the Giving Voice section to see their achievements and how you can get involved in the campaign.

Newly-qualified practitioners

Introduction

Welcome to the RCSLT's pages for newly-qualified members.

Whether you are at the start of your first year as an SLT or approaching certified RCSLT membership, we have a wealth of resources to help you though this important transitional phase in your career.

In this section you will find:

  • CPD for NQPs
  • Starting your career in a research setting
  • Resources for NQPs
  • Supervision and support
  • Resources for managers supporting NQPs
  • Volunteering
  • RCSLT membership for NQPs
  • Transfer to certified RCSLT membership

CPD for NQPs

The NQP Framework can now be found within the online CPD Diary.

Newly-qualified practitioners (NQPs) are required to work towards and complete a set of NQP goals. These goals support your learning and development in your first year of practice and are used as evidence of readiness to transfer to full RCSLT membership.

Each of these goals will get signed off by a supervisor as you achieve them.

For more information about getting your goals signed off and applying for full RCSLT membership see 'transfer to certified RCSLT membership' section below.

RCSLT NQP Goals

The following goals are linked to the RCSLT Core capabilities:

Communication

  1. Communicates with people in a manner which is consistent with their level of understanding, culture, background and preferred ways of communicating in order to sustain positive relationships and enable constructive outcomes to be achieved
  2. Acts in ways that are non-discriminatory and respectful of others’ beliefs and perspectives

Partnerships

  1. Works as part of a multidisciplinary team and understands the roles of other members of the team
  2. Makes referrals to other professionals in a timely and appropriate way
  3. Collaborates with relevant others and implements an appropriate therapy management plan based on functional outcomes and clearly defined goals, including an understanding and use of preventative strategies
  4. Discharges client appropriately, agreeing a point of closure with the client/carer and informing other professionals and highlights routes for referral if appropriate
  5. Identifies and collects relevant information through appropriate formal and informal assessment, including discussion with the client/carer

Leadership and lifelong learning

  1. Identifies development needs and engages in continuous self-directed learning to promote professional development and quality of practice
  2. Is involved in training other professionals, raising awareness of communication and eating, drinking and swallowing problems
  3. Continuously evaluates the efficacy of the therapy management plan, and modifies it as appropriate

Research and evidence-based practice

  1. Is aware of current clinical audit findings and incorporates these into practice
  2. Interprets the assessment information and produces an appropriate therapy management plan using evidence-based practice
  3. Is able to use current critically appraised research to inform practice

Professional autonomy and accountability

  1. Keeps accurate and contemporaneous records
  2. Provides safe care within the scope of practice, adhering to health and safety procedures and clinical guidance, and seeking support from supervisor when appropriate
  3. Maintains all aspects of patient/client confidentiality
  4. Understands and follows the clinical administration processes
  5. Manages and prioritises demands involved in meeting the needs of the caseload
  6. Manages time effectively to balance clinical and non-clinical responsibilities
  7. Is aware of and adheres to current legislation, incorporating this into practice
  8. Uses appropriate clinical and professional guidance within practice (e.g. RCSLT or NICE guidance)
  9. Makes and justifies independent decisions on less complex patient/client care
  10. Makes a clinical judgement/diagnosis in relation to the nature and extent of less complex speech and language therapy difficulties
  11. Accesses support from mentors/specialists for complex cases

You can download this as a table, where you will also see how the Curriculum guidance graduate key capabilities are linked to the Core capabilities, and how the NQP Goals build upon these:

Starting your career in a research setting

Completing goals in a research setting

If you are an NQP working in a research setting (undertaking clinical research for PhD or within a clinical research setting), you are still able to complete the NQP goals. It is recommended that you are supervised by an academic SLT who must be a certified member of the RCSLT. If your supervisor is not an SLT, your goals must be countersigned by a co-supervisor with clinical expertise who is an HCPC registered SLT and a certified member of the RCSLT, i.e. an academic SLT or clinician.

The RCSLT is supportive of NQPs undertaking PhDs and believes that a clinical caseload, as part of the PhD work is important for NQPs in order to develop clinical knowledge and skills. The

RCSLT would encourage NQPs who wish to work in a research environment to negotiate that opportunities for clinical work are included in their research.

You should note that the NQP Goals are not linked to your HCPC registration. However, when you renew your HCPC application one of the declaration you will make is:

“I declare that I have read, understood and will comply with the HCPC’s standards of conduct, performance and ethics.”

You may have a clinical caseload as part of your research work but if you do not and after a period of time in research you return to clinical practice you must refer to the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, with special attention paid to Standard 3:

“3. Work within the limits of your knowledge and skills

Keep within your scope of practice

3.1 You must keep within your scope of practice by only practising in the areas you have appropriate knowledge, skills and experience for.

3.2 You must refer a service user to another practitioner if the care, treatment or other services they need are beyond your scope of practice.

Maintain and develop your knowledge and skills

3.3 You must keep your knowledge and skills up to date and relevant to your scope of practice through continuing professional development.

3.4 You must keep up to date with and follow the law, our guidance and other requirements relevant to your practice.

3.5 You must ask for feedback and use it to improve your practice.”

If you require more information, please contact us.

Resources for NQPs

Newly qualified practitioner members are able to access all of the member resources, however you may find it particularly useful to look at the following:

Supervision and support

As an NQP you fall under the supervised category at the RCSLT

It is strongly encouraged that all NQPs consider the importance of managerial supervision, professional supervision and professional support when applying for your first post. It is also vital that managers and employers recognise their role and responsibility in ensuring all NQPs access both forms of supervision and professional support. For safe and effective practice, the RCSLT requires that, as an NQP, you undertake a comprehensive programme of supervision and support for the first 12-18 months of employment. This will establish good working practices and help develop self-confidence in the long term.

It is the responsibility of you and your employer to ensure the supervisor that is signing off the competencies is an SLT who is a member of the RCSLT and registered with the HCPC. The RCSLT strongly recommends that this is confirmed before you begin your first employment.

Managerial supervision

The RCSLT recommends that managerial supervision should be at least weekly for the first three months of work and monthly thereafter. The managerial supervisor could facilitate the collection of your activities and reflections for completing the NQP Goals and monitoring progress.

Professional supervision

The RCSLT recommends that your professional supervisor must be an experienced SLT in the relevant clinical area. Professional supervision should be at least weekly during the first three months and monthly thereafter. The professional supervisor could facilitate the collection of your activities and reflections for completing the NQP Goals and monitoring progress.

Professional supervision needs to be more intensive and hands-on initially so that both you and your supervisor can quickly identify your needs and already-established skills.

Having different people as managerial and professional supervisors

If your managerial supervisor and professional supervisor are different people who are both eligible to approve your NQP Goals, you need to decide with both supervisor how this will be monitored, approved and signed off.

Please note that you will have to assign each goal to a supervisor, and you can have different supervisors for different goals.

The RCSLT will only verify the completion of all goals with the signature of RCSLT certified and HCPC registered SLTs.

Professional support

The RCSLT stipulates that professional support should be available through:

  • The management structure of the employing organisation
  • Colleagues within and/or outside the service
  • RCSLT Clinical Excellence Networks (CENs), managers and the Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice (ASLTIP) groups
  • Peer support groups
  • Buddying by another SLT or formalise external supervision

Forms of support activities include:

  • Opportunities to shadow SLT colleagues
  • Joint working
  • Attendance at clinical meetings, in-service training and training seminars
  • Opportunities to access specialist advice to support clinical judgement and decision-making when needed, either face-to-face, through ‘open door policies’ or via phone call or email
  • Access to peer support networks, such as forums or support groups or peer ‘buddy’ systems
  • Regular contact with peers and specialists in the profession

Adequate provision of support can lead to reduced stress levels and enhanced ability to manage distressing or complex situations. This is especially important for you as an NQP. External personal support may be appropriate at times, including access to occupational health department, staff counsellors, employee assistance programmes or leadership training courses.

You may also like to read our guidance on CPD and mentoring.

Applying for your first job

As an NQP, it is strongly recommended the before and/or at an interview you have a conversation regarding ongoing supervision culture in the organisation in which you are applying. You need to pay particular attention to costing and time allocation for both types of supervision for posts where there is no SLT management and supervision structure (e.g. the only SLT in school or private hospital setting).

Working in independent practice

The RCSLT does not recommend that recent SLT graduates work in independent practice, in independent organisations, as locums or undertake bank work, during this transitional period without having confirmation from your employer that you will receive supervision from an HCPC registered SLT who also has certified membership of the RCSLT.

Please note that:

  • Locum agencies may not be able to guarantee supervision for NQPs
  • NQPs working in an environment where there is not an SLT team should have supervision bought in from the NHS.

For more information see:

Resources for managers supporting NQPs

NQPs are required to complete 24 mandatory NQP Goals to gain the skills and experience to become a fully qualified SLT. An NQP will need to be supervised during this process and will need their goals approved by an employer/supervisor who is both a member of the RCSLT and an HCPC registered SLT.

It is not recommended by the RCSLT that NQPs work in independent practice, in independent organisations, as locums or undertake bank work during this transitional period without having confirmation from their employer that they will receive supervision from an HCPC registered SLT who also has certified membership of RCSLT. Locum agencies may not be able to guarantee supervision for NQPs. NQPs working in an environment where there is not a SLT team should have supervision bought in from the NHS.

For more information, please visit the following:

Please contact us with any suggestions.

Volunteering

As an NQP you may wish to volunteer with speech and language therapy services to help maintain your knowledge and to benefit service users if you cannot find paid work. The RCSLT also understands that some services would like to support NQPs by offering voluntary experiences.

You should record your volunteering experiences in the CPD Diary as activities as part of working towards an NQP goal. Please note that you can only complete a goal and have it approved by a supervisor once you are in an NQP role.

The RCSLT has developed guidelines specifically for SLT services or practices taking on qualified speech and language therapists as volunteers.

RCSLT membership for NQPs

For information on your benefits as an RCSLT NQP member, including insurance, please visit our Membership pages

Transfer to Certified RCSLT membership

In order to transfer to certified RCSLT membership, you need to have completed the NQP Goals and have had them signed off by your supervisor(s), both electronically and physically.

Electronic sign-off

Each NQP goal must be signed off by your supervisor(s) within the online CPD Diary

For more information see:

Physical sign-off

They are signed off physically by completing an application form for transferring to Certified RCSLT membership

  • Application form for transferring to certified RCSLT membership 2018 - coming soon
  • Notes on completing the application form - coming soon

N.B. All NQPs are required to send in the new application form, even if you started working on your competencies in the old NQP Framework.

For more info, please contact us.

Assistants

Introduction

As an assistant, you are able to use a range of resources to support your professional development.

In this section you will find:

  • CPD for assistants
  • Resources

CPD for assistants

You are able to record your CPD by using the CPD Diary like other members by working towards goals and add activities which you have completed. 

Additional resources:

Resources

In the Communities area, you will find a Group for assistants where you can discuss issues, make announcements and share advice and CPD with assistant and support worker colleagues. Find out how to join.

You may find the following resources useful:

Overseas-qualified practitioners

Introduction

Overseas qualified practitioners (OQPs) are entered into the supervised category of RCSLT membership when they first join, after arriving in the UK.

These entrants to the profession are expected to complete up to one year in a clinical setting under supervision before being given certified RCSLT membership. This timeframe is given as a guide and may vary according to the individual.

In this section you will find

OQP Competency Framework and CPD Diary

This competency-based transitional framework for OQPs sets out a balanced set of clear expectations and standards. The framework can be used to support learning and development, specific to practice in the UK context. It will also support you with your continuing professional development (CPD).

The OQP Framework is found within the online CPD Diary.

For guidance on how to use the OQP Competency Framework and the online CPD Diary, please see our CPD guidance.

Career break

Introduction

You can take a break of up to two years and remain on the HCPC Register. In reality, this means that in order to renew your registration (which happens every two years) you need to have practised your profession at some point during the two-year registration period.

If you do not practice for more than two years and want to return, you will need to complete the HCPC returning to practice process.

If you have not practiced for more than two years, but have remained on the HCPC register you do not need to complete the returning to practice process. However, you may feel you want to complete some form of returning-to-work evidence to increase your confidence, knowledge and skills, in this case please contact us to discuss your options.

In this section you will find:

  • Returning to practice
  • Parental leave

Is it easy to get back into the profession after a break?

With the current financial climate, it is likely to be a challenging time for returners-to-practice who need extra supervision/support from employers and who are competing with SLTs who have not had a career break. HCPC rules state that a returner to practice cannot use the Speech and Language Therapist protected title until they have completed the returning to practice process and are back on the HCPC register. However, once you have completed the returning to work process you will be able to apply for roles as before.

What advice can you give?

A tip suggested by the RCSLT Returners to practice forum is to ideally avoid lapsing your HCPC registration. According to the HCPC you can still be considered practising, as long as you continue to undertake CPD and practice even a small amount per year. Please see below for their definition.

Defining ‘practising your profession’

We have received a number of enquiries from health professionals who are concerned that their practice may not ‘count’ as ‘practising their profession’. The largest number of these enquiries were from health professionals working in education, management or research, which we have always assured registrants is part of practice. However, we have also received a number of enquiries from people who work on a voluntary basis, or do occasional part-time work, or who have moved into a role that is related to their profession, but not directly part of it.

We do not want to exclude people from the Register who work in these kinds of newer roles, or people who are using their professional skills in some capacity but are worried that they will not be considered to be ‘practising their profession’ in a traditional, direct way. We also believe that in many cases the person best placed to decide whether someone is practising their profession will be the health professional themselves. For the purposes of renewing registration, or determining whether return to practice requirements need to be met, we have defined ‘practising your profession’ as drawing on your professional skills and/or knowledge in the course of your work. You will need to make a personal decision about whether you are doing this.”

Does maternity/paternity leave count as a career-break?

Maternity leave that is under two years would not be considered a career-break. If it is over two years then we would recommend contacting the HCPC to discuss your individual case. Please visit the page on maternity leave and CPD.

Any further questions?

If you have further queries about returning to practice or wish to join the free RCSLT Returning-to-Practice online egroup, contact us.

Returning to practice

The RCSLT is keen to encourage therapists who have been on career breaks to return to working as part-time or full-time SLTs. The resources in this section are designed to help you to return to the workforce with confidence after a career break, and help you to follow the HCPC returning-to-practice process.

HCPC returning to practice process and guidance

The HCPC has guidance on the returning to practice process which you will need to complete if you are returning to practice after a break of more than two years. The HCPC is fairly flexible in how you approach activities to update your skills:

“The updating period can comprise a combination of supervised practice, formal study and private study. We recognise that it might not always be possible to access a period of supervised practice and that particular return to practice courses may not be available in certain areas; which is why we have tried to be as flexible as possible with our requirements.” (From HCPC returning to practice process)

Find out more here: HCPC returning to practice process

The HCPC returning-to-practice guidance was updated in 2017. Most of the information is for professionals who are not currently registered and who need to apply for readmission to the Register, or who are registered but have been out of practice for more than two years. However, you may also find this guidance helpful if you are considering a break in your practice and thinking about what this might mean in the future, or if you are considering supervising or employing a returner:

Find out more here: HCPC return to practice guidance (2017)

The HCPC provides forms to record your returning to practice learning: HCPC Returning to Practice form

What happens to your RCSLT membership status when you return to work?

If you have been out of practice for more than two years, apply to become a 'returner' RCSLT member, whether you work part-time or full-time, for one year and transfer to the full membership list again.

Informal online group for returners

The RCSLT has an informal Basecamp group for people who are returning to practice. If you would like to be added to this group, please contact us.

Returning to practice distance learning courses

There are a number of ‘return to practice’ courses being developed or run by universities across the country. Birmingham City University runs a distance learning course aimed at therapists returning to practice after a career break. This course counts for approx. 115 hours towards the HCPC return to work process and is classed as ‘professional study’. For more information on this and other courses which may be available please contact the RCSLT on info@rcslt.org or 0207 378 3012.

It is also worth looking at other universities which offer speech and language therapy degrees as they often have short courses available, which will help to refresh your skills. You will find a full list here.

Returning to practice: further support

England
If you are living in England then you may like to know that Health Education England has a new programme to encourage returners to practice. It covers funding in three areas: academic study, practice placement and out of pocket expenses.

If you are thinking of returning to practice in England please take a look at the HEE advice and resources and register your interest in HEE support.

Health Education England return to practice support

Wales
For those members living in Wales please see the guidance provided by NHS Wales:

Guidance for return to practice for nurses, midwives, SCPHNs, AHPs and Healthcare scientists (2016)

Parental leave

We have recently revised our policy on CPD requirements during maternity/paternity leave, to bring this in line with current HCPC policy.

See the HCPC guidelines

Whether you remain registered as practising or non-practising with the RCSLT during your maternity/paternity leave, there is no set number of hours of CPD that you need to fulfil.

However, if you retain your practising status with the RCSLT during your leave, we would expect you to maintain a basic level of CPD.

As a guideline, the RCSLT suggest that 'minimal' CPD might be two to three examples of CPD that you reflect on well. The HCPC is looking for quality over quantity.

Examples of CPD activities you might be able to do while on maternity/paternity leave

Self-directed at home:

Self-directed outside of home:

  • Reflection on a 'keeping in touch day'

Direct Gov advice on maternity leave

Direct Gov advice on paternity leave

  • Voluntary work - such as being a school governor, participating in parent-toddler or new baby groups, etc.

Upon returning to work after maternity/paternity leave, your minimum RCSLT CPD requirement will be calculated on a pro rata basis. For example, for practitioners who work full-time the minimum number of CPD hours is 30, or 2.5 hours a month x the number of months from when you return to work and the end of the CPD year (the CPD year is 1 April to 31 March).

By recording your maternity/paternity leave in the special circumstances section of the online diary, both you and the HCPC will have a record of this to hand if needed.

HCPC guidelines

HCPC guidelines now state:

We would expect that registrants be maintaining a very basic level of CPD throughout a maternity leave. In regards to CPD audit, maternity/paternity leave and extended sickness either during the two-year cycle that is being audited or during the audit window itself, would give grounds to apply for a CPD deferral.

If the registrant did not receive the deferral, or chose to complete a CPD portfolio anyway, as long as an extended period of absence was explained in the CPD portfolio this would be taken into account when the portfolio was being assessed.

If the registrant's deferral request was successful, the CPD audit would be deferred until the next two-year cycle, i.e. when the next CPD audit took place any registrants who had deferred would definitely be selected.

Working overseas

Going to work overseas?

The RCSLT has members who trained in the UK and now work overseas as speech and language therapists.

Using the MRA to apply for membership of a professional association overseas

The Mutual Recognition of Credentials Agreement, known as ‘the MRA,’ is an agreement between:

  • Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • Speech Pathology Australia (SPA)
  • Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA)
  • Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT)
  • New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists Association (NZSTA)

The agreement enables full RCSLT members to join any of the others.

RCSLT members who want to apply for membership of a professional association overseas must:

  • Contact the professional association in the country in which you are going to work to check on their requirements and application processes
  • Contact the RCSLT to let us know you are intending to make an application using the MRA
  • Secure a letter of good standing from the RCSLT. To do this, please complete this application form
  • Secure a reference from your manager. Please ask them to complete this reference form
  • Send your application to the professional association in the country in which you are going to work.

SLTs working in voluntary roles

Some of these members work in voluntary positions for charities, others work in overseas health systems.

The RCSLT offers a discount on the membership fees for SLTs working in a voluntary role. Please contact the membership team for more information on this.