Defined Specialist Portfolio Route: The lonely path to registration

By Alix Sheppard FRSA, FRSPH
UKPHR Public Health Practitioners registration scheme coordinator (East of England)
FPH Accredited Practitioner Programme Lead

In the East of England we have identified 18 individuals who are considering or currently completing a portfolio for registration as a defined specialist and receiving great interest from practitioners completing the practitioner route to have a “next step” to proceed with.

Having worked in Public Health myself for nearly 20 years, one of the frustrations with career planning is the lack of clear pathways, very unlike other areas of health and social care systems. Couple with this the variable support for CPD and career progression on both a geographical basis and from employer to employer and it is easy to see why people become “stuck.” Add on a few restructures here and there – some people are now on their 6th in as many years – and it presents a challenge to say the least. 

Thankfully in the last 5 years, we have made huge improvements in workforce support – but there is no room for complacency. We have a lot to do and the health and wellbeing of over 65 million people to improve and protect.

The practitioner registration schemes and specialist training programmes are well established, but what of the group of people who fall between these areas?

It seems that support for people undertaking the defined specialist portfolio route (DefSps) is comprehensive in some areas and non-existent in others. Following comprehensive consultation with this group, we concluded that in the East of England the support needed was not extensive, but what can usefully be offered is a network, a base and a sense of team.

In order to provide this level of support in the East of England, we have brought this group under the wing of the practitioner scheme. Liaising with the specialist training programme to share training sessions has enabled DefSps to access training to fill gaps in the “knows how”. Later this year, there will be portfolio development days with guest speakers and facilitators who have completed portfolios for this route.

It is early days yet, but all in all, the action-learning cohort model which works well with practitioners appears to be looking good for DefSps too.