Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs are designed to provide a better understanding of the Online Assessment Tool (OLAT). If you have any questions about OLAT that are not covered here or elsewhere on the website please get in touch via the Contact Us page.

The OLAT can be accessed online via the NSHCS website or via the link

Trainees will be sent a link to the system from the NSHCS at the onset of their training. Only they should register directly. All other users should wait to receive an email from the system with a link following nomination by the trainee.

Only trainees require a secure key to access the system and can register directly. This key is provided to trainees by the National School of Healthcare Science at the onset of their training. If you are a trainee and have not received the secure key, please contact the school at

All other user types will gain access to the system when nominated for a particular activity by the trainee. The nomination will generate an email and link to the system where the user should register or if already registered should login in with their user name and password.

You can access the User Guides by logging in to the system and going to the ‘Useful Links and Documents’ panel on your Homepage.

They may be going into your Spam or Junk folder. If they have, please add the Sender’s email address to your trusted list of email addresses.

It may also be the case that the organisation receiving the emails has specific settings that block receipt of the emails. You should contact your local IT department to enable receipt of emails from the system. The NSHCS will provide details to all employers with regard to necessary access to try to minimise this issue where possible.

Otherwise, contact the Help Desk via the page who will be able to further advise you.

To protect your confidentially, if you leave the computer and are still logged on to a shared or publically viewable computer.

Your local Trust might also have its own auto logout, which we cannot control and which may vary. Please ensure you regularly save any content you are working on, to ensure that if you are automatically logged out, your most recent updates will available when you log back in.

You should use the Rest Password facility available on the login screen. This will generate an email with a link that you can use to access your account. The system will verify you as the required user and you will then be able to update your password.

If you enter an incorrect password on more than 7 occasions within 1 hour you will be locked out of your account.

The system will indicate how many attempts are remaining and you are advised to use the password reminder facility available to avoid any unnecessary delays. If you are locked out due to entering an incorrect password, you will only be able to unlock your account by contacting the OLAT Helpdesk.

You can change your password and the email address associated with your account by clicking 'Preferences' and then completing the form in the Account Settings section.

Duplicate accounts are generally created when trainees use different email addresses for the same individual when nominating them for a particular activity. Duplicate accounts can only be merged by the helpdesk who should be contacted using the enquiry form.

All users are advised to only use one email address within the system and should confirm this with the trainees otherwise the system will generate duplicate accounts for each different email address that is used.

Trainees should ensure that they spell email addresses correctly when nominating individuals as this also will generate duplicate accounts.

Trainees who require multiple roles will need to register a separate email address for each role. Examples scenarios include:
· An STP Trainee has been nominated as an MSF Rater for another trainee
· A Healthcare Scientist who was previously on the STP Programme is now nominated to be Training Officer or Assessor for a current STP Trainee
· A Healthcare Scientist who was previously on the STP Programme now requires access to the HSST Curriculum.
· An HSST Trainee who requires separate access to assess or act as Training Officer to an STP Trainee/trainees

Generally once an an assessment has received an outcome from the assessment or review and is marked as ”Accepted” by the trainee, the School will not authorise a reset as this is the accurate record of activity and should remain recorded as such.

Requests to reset assessments are likely to be granted under the following circumstances and should be requested via the training officer to the school who will authorise the helpdesk to take the necessary action:
• Need to change assessor or reviewer due to changes in training strategy, personnel or issues with response times by assessors or reviewers
• Issue with inappropriate evidence such as patient identifiable data loaded onto the system
• Assessor has marked the assessment with the wrong outcome (written confirmation from the assessor will be required under these circumstances)

Any request made by a trainee will be confirmed with the training officer prior to altering by the School.

They are simply the different titles used for those assessing the different content. An assessor is someone who will assess/mark a DOPs, CBD or OCE, whereas a rater someone who is nominated for an MSF; a reviewer is someone who reviews and signs off a competency.

Details of the different roles and responsibilities can be found in the Terms and Conditions under the ‘About us’ tab.

When a trainee is away from the host department for a period of time, for example on rotation, a local supervisor will be nominated by the Head of Department and agreed with the Training Officer.

The supervisor will undertake the support role for the trainee whilst they are within their department.

The Supervisor will take overall responsibility whilst the trainee is in their department for:
• Agreeing with the trainee the assessor/reviewer for each assessment in advance of the assessment taking place
• Monitoring and management of user access to the system within the local department

Details of the different roles and responsibilities can be found in the Terms and Conditions under the ‘About us’ tab.

The Training Officer has overall responsibility for supporting trainees over the length of their training. As well as general support, pastoral care and oversight of the training, their role includes the management of the information used and stored within the online assessment tool by the assessors/raters/reviewers and trainees in their department. This should include:
• Agreeing with the trainee the assessor/reviewer for each assessment in advance of the assessment taking place
• Identifying the trainees’ daily supervisor/mentor for each learning outcome of the module
• Monitoring and management of user access to the system within the department.

The Training Officer will be expected to meet regularly with the trainees and assessors to ensure that individuals are progressing through the training programme appropriately and to pick up any issues in a timely manner.

Details of the different roles and responsibilities can be found in the Terms and Conditions under the ‘About us’ tab.

The Training Coordinator provides oversight and support for trainees within one or more specialisms across a number of different employers where training is being delivered across multiple sites or within formalised training consortia. This role can be applied to all specialisms where it exists within the agreed training arrangements.

Details of the different roles and responsibilities can be found in the Terms and Conditions under the ‘About us’ tab.

No, not all specialisms will have this sort of role within their training structure. Departments should confirm with trainees if this role is applicable to them and if so who the training coordinator is.

All trainees must nominate a training officer and most will also nominate different supervisors for their first year rotational modules.

This can be done by going into your Preferences and opening the tab for TO and Supervisors. Your nominated Training Officer may already appear on the dropdown list. If not, you will need to add their details, where they will receive an email inviting them to complete registration on OLAT.

We wish to ensure that we support all trainees. This means you can tell us about any disability you want us to be aware of and request any support if you wish to do so. This is not a mandatory field; you do not need to complete unless you feel your disability may affect your training.

If you do have a disability that may affect your training and you are unsure whether the School is aware please email to confirm your personal circumstances

Currently trainee content is stored indefinitely, and you can access it as such, though this policy may change in the future. There is also a function to enable you to print information from your account as PDF. Trainees should note however that once they complete the training their accounts will be updated to either passed or failed status by the NSHCS and the account will become read-only. Should you need to enroll on another training programme (i.e. you are now an HSST Student), you will need to register under a different email address.

Should the School change its policy in the future and remove past content, we will alert all Trainees via email. Therefore, it is imperative that should you wish to retain this information in the future, your OLAT account is updated with your current email address.

Yes you will be logged out of OLAT if you have not made key strikes and/or movements of the mouse within a 30 minute period. This is intended as a security feature to protect data.

Additionally, users should be aware that you can also be logged out if there is no transfer of signal between the user and the local server. This means that if you are not actively saving your work on a regular basis, your local server will not recognise that the site is still active and may log you out. This will still happen even if you are typing onto the system if you do not save regularly because of inactivity according to the server, not OLAT.

The system has inbuilt email facilities in which all those who are asked to review a competency or undertake an assessment are sent an email immediately.

Once the initial email has been sent, with the exception of MSF, assessor and reviewers will not receive reminder emails. Trainees should ensure that they maintain regular contact with any assessors or reviewers to ensure they access and complete their activities within a reasonable timeframe. Any ongoing issues or delays should be reported and discussed with the training officer in the first instance. Assessors/reviewers should be reminded to ensure emails from are not directed to their Spam/Junk folder.

This is probably due to the number of times a user selects the ‘create’ button. Once this button is selected the system will generate the competency or assessment however the speed at which it does so will be dependent on the local Internet connection and browser speed. Users should wait for the system to load the new competency or assessment as clicking ‘create’ multiple times will create multiple copies of the same competency or assessment.

Should a duplicate competency or assessment be created then users should contact the helpdesk by using the Contact Us page to remove the duplicate as required.

Access to the live site for all user types except trainees is only via nomination i.e., you will not be able to access the system until you are nominated by the trainee for a particular role or purpose related to their training.

Trainees are the only user type who are able to register on the live site directly. If you are not a trainee and you attempt to do this you will end up registering a trainee account.

If you wish to view the functionality of the system before you are nominated you can do so by accessing the training site which is available to all user types.

The platform is a copy of the live tool and includes all of the same functions and content so users can get a feel for how OLAT works prior to accessing the live system. This platform is available to all trainees and staff participating in the delivery of training under the modernised training programmes. The platform is separate to the live version of OLAT and has been made available for training purposes only.

There is specific guidance available on the purpose and use of the training system which all users must observe. Trainees must not at any point use this version of the system to record their progress as it will periodically be wiped and updated as the live site is developed.

You can access the OLAT Training Platform via with:
Username: bluesky
Password: sunshine

The guidance document can be accessed here.

There is currently no provision for HSST students to upload GSP content. These modules are currently under consultation. If they are added to the HSST Curriculum, all students will be notified via the email address associated with the School. Until then, and where appropriate evidence of GSP can be referenced, please use the Reflective Log and those WPBAs where the evidence is relevant.

This is something that should be discussed with your HSST supervisor. OLAT for HSST Students is a repository for evidence; it is for you and your HSST supervisor to agree that a piece of evidence/report is relevant to multiple competencies or assessments, in which case it can be loaded onto OLAT against those competencies or loaded against one competency, and then reference made to it for the other competencies. In HSST it would be anticipated that a project report or evidence would satisfy a number of competencies. Good practice is to include, at the beginning of the document, the list of competencies to which it refers.

Competencies should only be marked and accepted after all evidence has been uploaded. To this end, the School recommends discussing with your supervisor each item of evidence. When both you and your supervisor agree it is of a suitable standard, the evidence should be added to the competency, however you should not send the competency for review. Rather, leave the competency in Draft mode, so you can add further evidence as your studies progress. Only after all evidence has been agreed with your supervisor beforehand, and added to the competency, should it be sent for review. The School is aware this is an issue inherent to the OLAT and appreciate it is not the most ideal way to review competencies, though we anticipate a fix within one year.

You should not include any information that could be used to identify a specific patient. This includes (but is not limited to): Patient name, Date of Birth, Hospital/Clinic Identification Number, NHS Number, Address, Phone Number. If you have any doubt whether or not a piece of data should be redacted from your evidence, please consult your local Caldicott Guardian.

Please note, any assessment/competency that includes patient-identifiable information that has been assessed, will require resetting to Draft mode, the information struck out of the evidence, and the assessment/competency re-assesses/re-reviewed.

There is no fixed number of times the trainee can attempt an assessment or a competency but training officers and assessors should use their professional judgement when considering whether the trainee has performed to the necessary level. This judgement should take into account the point at which the assessment is taking place in the training programme i.e., expectations for a trainee in their first year of STP training would be different to a trainee in their third year of HSST training. If a trainee is deemed to be unsatisfactory for the stage of the training or presents a likely clinical risk, then the assessment can be repeated but only after the trainee has received the necessary additional training to support them in another attempt. The number of times this process should be repeated would depend on the nature of the particular assessment or competency being undertaken and the perceived gaps in the trainee’s skills, knowledge or understanding.

If it is felt that the trainee is unable to complete the assessment or competency satisfactorily despite a number of attempts, the relevant Professional Lead from the National School should be contacted to discuss the situation and agree a way forward.

You should immediately contact the National School of Healthcare Science at who will look into this for you.

Minor changes such as grammatical errors will be corrected but any changes to curricula will not take place until the curricula is reviewed.

To evidence competencies trainees must be able to provide examples of how the knowledge or skill has been applied in a practical setting. The list below provides some examples, but trainees are expected to utilise a variety of different tools, resources and media within the local department to demonstrate evidence of each competency:

• Be aware of relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) and adheres to them
• Provide advice – verbal, written or by telephone to a response or query
• Management of referrals in an appropriate manner i.e., brought to the attention of an appropriate member of staff
• Management of samples and use of local systems to record
• Direct assessment and account of reviewer
• Discussion between trainee and trainer
• Accurate management of patient data and sample information
• Peer observation
• Abstracts from relevant reports/journals.

Trainees should work with their reviewer to ensure that the evidence provided is effective and appropriate. Trainees should try to avoid providing significant amounts of material to evidence each competency and should rationalise or summarise the information where possible.

You do not have write lots and should speak to your Training Officer about potential evidence if you are unsure.

Examples of evidence for competencies are available on this page of the NSHCS website.

There are short films and user guides on the home page of the online system, which explain the purpose and how to undertake the different types of assessment. You should also discuss this with your training officer who will have been trained in this form of assessment by attending Train the Trainer programmes. There are also user guides on the system which show you the functions on each page and how to complete a particular kind of assessment online.

For STP Trainees, MSFs are most often used after 18 months of commencement, and then again within six months towards the end of the training. Trainees from 2014 onwards are required to undertake a minimum of 2 MSF assessments in order to complete their training. Earlier cohorts of trainees are advised to do at least two of this type of assessment to benefit their professional development.

For those on the HSST path, the MSF process is the same, however the frequency will be confirmed when the HSST handbook is distributed.

The timing of undertaking an OCE, and the context of that assessment, should be discussed thoroughly with your training officer or assessor. There is a list of OCE assessments within the system to choose from and your choice will depend on local availability and circumstances. When undertaking an OCE you should always respect the needs and wishes of the patient and ensure they are aware you are a trainee who is undergoing an assessment.

Trainees on the STP must complete a minimum of 28 assessments across the 3 years of training.

For the first year of the STP a total of 8 assessments must be completed: a minimum of one CBD for each module, plus a DOPS or OCE.

The number of assessments required for each module in the specialist years varies for each specialism (due to variability in number of modules in years 2 & 3 across specialisms) but should equal a total of 20 overall with a minimum of 50% being CBDs.

This information is detailed in the Learning Guide and is also available under the useful documents panel of the home page:
STP Number of Assessments 2012 and 2013 trainees.pdf
STP Number of Assessments 2014 trainees onwards.pdf

The assessment progress bar is automatically populated to show how far you are in undertaking your assessments.

Trainee rate of completion will be assessed against these minimum numbers and the School will monitor progress through the programme.

Trainees on the STP must achieve a satisfactory outcome for the minimum number and type of assessments specified and must complete all competencies for the programme with a satisfactory outcome in order to have completed their account on the OLAT.

Trainees can do more than the minimum number of assessments should this be of benefit and appropriate to their training.

Trainees using the OLAT for other programmes such as HSST should refer to the agreed strategy and local requirements for number of assessments and competencies required.

For STP there are four rotational modules that are fixed for each specialism. In two specialisms it is possible to select the rotations from a list. These are Genetics and CVRS (Urodynamics, GI and cardiac).

For HSST stage 2 modules this function can be used to select the appropriate modules for your training.

You do have to select a specialism in order to register on the system. It is important to discuss this with your Training Officer, however it is very easy, under the ”Preferences” tab, then ”Training” tab on the system, to change your specialism at the end of the rotational period, if needed.

Trainees in these specialisms only can change their preferences at any time within their first year provided no assessments or competencies have been generated for the specialist training in years 2 and 3. Trainees should refer to the preferences/training tab in their account and use the drop down list for specialism to update their accounts.

If assessments or competencies from years 2 & 3 modules have been generated then the specialism can only be changed by the helpdesk. Trainees wishing to do this must first get their training officer to email the School to confirm the request who will then authorise the change with the helpdesk.

Trainees who change their specialism should notify the NSHCS of this change via email to as OLAT does not link directly to the School’s information database.

This means there is still some work to be undertaken and you should be clear with the reviewer exactly what is required and that you have an action plan to ensure you are able to complete the competency. It may be that you need to develop further skills or simply that you need to upload some additional evidence. You will only know what is required once you have discussed it with your reviewer. The reviewer should have been provided with guidance about their part in the feedback and what their role is.

When a competency is returned as incomplete or unsatisfactory this indicates that you need to provide further or different evidence. In order to edit the competency again you should change the status of the competency back to ‘draft’.

You should not ‘accept’ the competency outcome at this stage as this will render the competency un-editable and you will have to contact the help desk for them to release it again for editing.

The reflective log is intended to record your thoughts on your learning at various points. It will be particularly useful for the elective period and for clinical experiential learning.

Reflection is an important part of learning. The aim is to promote the development of autonomous and self-directed professionals, stimulating personal and professional growth and closing the gap between theory and practice.

There is a separate module for you to complete competencies related to your elective.

The reflective log is not a structured assessment but it is a helpful tool that enables you to demonstrate and record clinical experiences that have been carried out. Reflecting on practice and learning from experience are an essential part of learning and assessment and so trainees are encouraged to use the reflective log where this is helpful to their training.

Trainees are not required to complete and submit a form to the NSHCS for their elective. This is an inaccuracy in the learning guide which will be rectified at the next curricula review.

Trainees should make sure that they complete the 3 competencies required for the elective on their OLAT.