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The Royal Marsden

Postgraduate certificates: what you need to know

If you want to take your career to the next level, a post-grad certificate could be the first step

As the academic year draws to a close, you may already be looking ahead to the next stage of your training and education. But this can be a daunting choice; should you study for a masters or a diploma? Will stand-alone modules give you the specialist skills you need? Have you got the time, alongside a busy career and/or home life? One option could be a studying for a postgraduate certificate.

What is a postgraduate certificate? 

‘A post-grad cert gives you the knowledge and skills to develop your career but without having to commit to a full masters,’ says Chris McNamara, a course leader at the School. 
A postgraduate certificate is a one-year, part-time course focusing on one of seven core subjects: 
You will also study a number of additional modules to deepen your existing knowledge and to help develop your critical thinking, so you can make better assessments and decisions in your current practice.

Who are they for? 

Chris says post-grad certificates are not for people at the very beginning of their career in cancer care, but for those in advanced nursing roles who may not have the academic background to support their clinical expertise. He says, ‘The course will teach you how to think critically and use the evidence base for practice in your decision-making process.’ 
This can boost your confidence and has a direct result on improving patient outcomes. ‘If you’re involved in a discussion with other clinicians, and you haven’t got the academic grounding or confidence when talking about evidence, then you’re at a disadvantage,’ says Chris. But a postgraduate certificate can teach you how better assess a patient’s needs and communicate them confidently to your team, leading to better outcomes. 

What will I learn? 

In addition to the core modules relating to your specialist subject, such as breast cancer or cancer survivorship (listed above), you’ll study a number of optional modules to build on any areas of professional or clinical interest. 
These include:
advanced clinical assessment
clinical trials in cancer practice
enhancing clinical leadership
enhancing communication skills in health and social care
psycho-social impact of cancer
physical assessment and clinical reasoning
Apart from enhancing your academic skills, you’ll develop the ability to look at services with a critical eye in order to make improvements. ‘We encourage you not just to accept the status-quo, but work out how to change something in clinical practice that, as a by-product, can improve the lives of staff and patients,’ says Chris. ‘It’s not just about personal development but the wider impact that personal development can have, too.’

Where will a post-grad certificate take me?

A post-grad cert is a qualification in its own right but it can also be used as a stepping-stone to full masters, if you decide that’s where to take your training and education at a later date. Because our masters pathway is a flexible programme, you can opt to ‘step off’ at diploma level with an exit award, too.
Interested? Find out more about our postgraduate certificates, or contact us with any questions .