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.
As the scheme becomes established we intend to develop online competency assessment tools which will be the preferred measure for recertification. At this point 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.
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.