Frequently asked questions
Is it compulsory to be certified?
No, the scheme is voluntary and operates in a similar manner to other self managed certification schemes established by other health professionals like dietitians and social workers.
Will it be compulsory in the future as with NZ/UK etc
The medical laboratory professionals chose to set up the self regulated scheme because the Australian Government decided not to include Medical Scientists and Technical Officers in the professions covered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) when it was established in 2010. Most developed countries do have formal regulation of Medical Scientists and Technical Officers to protect the public and set minimum standards for ongoing assessment of competency and continuing professional development. It would require the Australian Government to legislate mandatory registration and if they were to do so it would almost certainly be under AHPRA.
Do I need to be a member of a Professional body to apply for certification?
No but if you have already been assessed and approved as a scientist or technical member of most organisations, you should have acceptable qualifications and experience to fulfil most of the certification requirements. This is certainly the case if you have been assessed for immigration purposes by AIMS.
Why do I need to agree to the ACCMLSW Code of Ethics?
As outlined above, we have established this scheme along the lines of those operated by other non APRHA professions. These groups are part of a national association of self regulated health professions which ACCMLSW may consider joining in the future. One requirement common to all these schemes is a declaration to abide by a code of ethics. Many of your professional bodies will already have something along these lines but to ensure everyone is following the same code we have included this declaration in the application process.
Is the fee annual?
The certification period is for two years (from the date of inclusion on the register) to be aligned with the compulsory scheme in operation in New Zealand and the CPD recording periods. Fees are payable for recertification every two years.
Why does my supervisor need to certify my competency?
Assessment of competency is a requirement under ISO 15189 and a key requirement for certification. We have developed online competency assessment tools which employers may use to assess competency. Regardless of the method of assessment, we require your supervisor to confirm they have assessed your competency and you demonstrate safe and ethical practice.
I am already a member of a professional body, do I need to apply for certification as well?
Yes, you need to join to protect the public and set minimum standards for ongoing assessment of competency and continuing professional development as determined by the 10 professional associations who have formed the ACCMLSW company. All recognise that their initial requirements for membership do not assess ongoing competency. Participation in CPD schemes is also voluntary for most association members. The new scheme is designed to formalise the requirement for ongoing CPD and regular competency assessment in order to have your name displayed on the register.
What CPD recording schemes are accepted?
Do I need to be in one of the member organisation CPD schemes to join?
For the first round of applications we will consider CPD records which have not been formally lodged with a CPD provider such as APACE. However, assessing these records does generate a significant administrative load and for re-certification the expectation is you would be able to provide a certificate of meeting CPD goals set by a member organisation. CPD records from organisations using APACE or RCPA for Faculty of Science members or the ASC's CEC scheme are acceptable.
Details of the activities and credit points for the APACE scheme can be found at: https://www.aims.org.au/documents/item/1272.
Note that with restricted opportunities for CPD due to COVID-19, the APACE requirements have been temporarily amended to 100 points over 3 years.
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.
Can clinical or senior scientists apply for certification?
They definitely can. At the moment there is no specific category but they will meet all the current criteria to be certified as a practising medical laboratory scientist (MLS). We hope to introduce more categories at a later date but have launched the scheme with the two categories of MLS and medical laboratory technician to start the ball rolling.
What if I am a new graduate and don't have 2 years experience?
Scientists and Technical Officers who are currently employed and have met the qualification requirements but do not yet have the minimum 2 years relevant recent experience and CPD record may apply for conditional certification.
They must still agree to Code of Conduct/Ethics and should provide a declaration from their supervisor that they are employed in a relevant role but with less than 2 years experience and that they are undertaking ongoing training and competency assessment. Applicants for conditional certification also need to commit to participate in CPD activities and recording.
Conditional certification will run for a maximum of two years, after which they will be required to undergo competency assessment and provide CPD records and transition to full certification.
What are the benefits of being a certified scientist or technical officer?
Your status as a certified medical laboratory professional is a public guarantee that you are qualified, competent and continuing your professional development. It is a formal recognition of scientific qualifications, your certification is aligned with competency development and assessment processes and acknowledges your participation in continuing educational activities. We also believe the scheme demonstrates increased professional credibility and prestige in the industry.
We hope employers may look to certification as a desirable attribute during the recruitment process and when we have online competency assessment tools developed you will be able to demonstrate to your employer your continued competence in a standardised way, reducing their administrative burden.
Can I apply to be a certified medical scientist to be classified as a medical laboratory scientist for visa/immigration purposes?
No. Your qualifications and work experience need to be assessed to determine your ANZSCO classification under the skilled migration program. The Australian Institute of Medical Scientists (AIMS) is the assessing authority (on behalf of the Australian government) for the following occupations: Medical Laboratory Scientist ANZSCO 234611; Medical Laboratory Scientist ANZSCO 234611 Specialisation IVF Embryologist; Medical Laboratory Technician ANZSCO 311213; Pathology Collector ANZSCO 311216.
Details of qualifications and skills assessment for migration can be found at: https://www.aims.org.au/services/qualification-assessment