During your dietetic career, you may choose to take a break and may not practise dietetics for a period of time, and therefore leave the HCPC register. This could be for a multitude of reasons including career break, travel, parental leave, caring responsibilities or illness.
For some individuals, after this period of time, they choose to resume their dietetic career, and return to practice.
The HCPC is the regulatory body for dietitians in the UK. Registration with the HCPC is mandatory if you are practising as a dietitian in the UK. If you have been out of practice for more than two years and you were previously registered as a dietitian in the UK, or have undertaken your dietetic qualification in the UK, you are required by HCPC to undertake a period of updating your skills and knowledge before you can become re-registered.
The following updating is required, depending on the length of time you have been out of practice:
|0-2 years||No requirements|
|2-5 years||30 days of updating your skills and knowledge|
|5 years or over||
60 days of updating your skills and knowledge
The updating of your knowledge and skills can be made up of any combination of supervised practice, formal study or private study. The HCPC requires that any private study makes up no more than a maximum of half of your period. The period of updating should be completed within the 12 months before you apply for registration.
Once completed, you will be required to complete HCPC forms confirming your updated knowledge and skills. You will also need to ensure that you meet the HCPC standards which include:
- Standards of conduct, performance and ethics
- Standards of proficiency for dietitians
- Standards of continuing professional development
For further information regarding the HCPC requirements and how to apply for re-admission to the register please visit HCPC.
We strongly recommend that you contact the HCPC to discuss your circumstances and intention to re-register before embarking on any updating.
Advice for returners
We would strongly recommend that you join the BDA if you are planning to return to practice. We have a vast number of resources available to members that will help you for your period of updating.
These include Continuing Professional Development tools and resources, opportunities to network with practising dietitians through Specialist Groups and Branches, professional and education advice from the experts in the BDA office, practice and professional guidance documents, information on key policies affecting dietitians, copies and on-line access to Dietetics Today and the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Trade Union cover and professional indemnity insurance. It also provides access to the Practice-Based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN)database.
Health Education England (HEE) have a scheme across England to support AHPs to return to the HCPC register and back into practice. Dietitians have already returned and you can too.
It is recognised that those that have left the register have a wealth of skills and experience they can bring back to practice. On average, a returner has 9 years of clinical experience and has worked to band 6 level. The scheme provides not just support to the returner but also to managers and departments to encourage them to provide placements and CPD opportunities. The HEE scheme provides financial support to both the returner and departments offering a placement.
We encourage all those returning to practice to register interest on the HEE website.
We advise all returners to gain some supervised practice before they return to practice, alongside some formal and private study. Firstly, contact your local dietetic department and speak to the dietetic manager to make a request. Or alternatively, get in touch with any of your ex-employers that are local to you.
If you are working in a department, even unpaid, whilst updating your skills and knowledge prior to getting back on the HCPC register, we suggest that you might ask to have an ‘honorary contract’, which would make your position as a supernumerary member of staff clear.
An honorary contract, or a letter to you from the supervisor/manager, should make your situation clear and define what you can and cannot do. There are procedures to be followed that protect you, the hospital and, most importantly, the patient. Most health organisations should have an honorary contract and may also require you to prove your identity and have a recent CRB check.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland there is currently no specific funding available for returners to update their skills and knowledge. The BDA do not provide funding for members returning to practice. If you are a resident in Wales you may apply for funding through the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH). Please note funding available in England via Health Education England can be used for BDA courses.
- Return to Practice Handbook is a booklet put together as guidance to support other returnees by a physiotherapist that had returned to practice. Health Education England are currently reviewing the booklet to consider adaptations to support all professions. However, this may be useful to use as guidance.