STIF SSHA Competency


Until now there have been limited options for acquiring Health Adviser specific qualifications or competencies. The development of the STIFIntermediate Competency module has given an opportunity for Sexual Health nurses to undertake relevant competencies pertinent to their practice and this model has now been adapted to the specific needs of SHAs. Working with the Society for Sexual Health Advisers (SSHA) who had developed a competency framework in 2013, STIF has produced this clinical training package to train and assess the knowledge and competence of healthcare professionals working as Sexual Health Advisers in Level 3 GUM services or in Integrated GUM/CASH services. It culminates in accreditation and certification with BASHH through 'The STI Foundation'. The trainee will be registered on the STIF SSHA Competency database. A revalidation process is required every 5 years to maintain registration.

Who is STIFSSHA Competency training for?

Health Advisers working in a Specialist Sexual Health/Genito-Urinary Medicine setting or an Integrated GUM/CASH setting.

Which competencies will be assessed?

  • Assessment and management of a woman including giving appropriate advice on safer sex, preventing STIs & unplanned pregnancy
  • Assessment and management of a heterosexual man including giving appropriate advice on safer sex, preventing STIs
  • Assessment and management of a man who has sex with other men (MSM) including giving appropriate advice on safer sex, preventing STIs
  • Assessment and management of young people (under 16) including giving appropriate advice on safer sex, preventing STIs and assessment for indicators of exploitation
  • Partner Notification: Conducting partner notification for relevant STIs and HIV including negotiating plan, PN resolution and completing a Provider Referral
  • Risk Reduction including Safer Sex Advice, using MI skills in practice and the role of alcohol, recreational/club drugs in risk-taking behaviour
  • Assessment of need for Post Exposure Prophylaxis following Sexual Exposure to prevent HIV acquisition and refer / manage appropriately
  • Managing an appropriate HIV pre & post-test discussion, including giving results to a patient at "High Risk"

A minimum number of clinical presentations in these areas must be seen and recorded in the Log Book.

Which knowledge areas will be assessed?

  • Assessment and management of people at higher risk who are especially vulnerable to STIs and other sex-related areas
  • Psychological support in key areas such as sexual assault, health anxiety, a new HIV diagnosis and herpes simplex infection.
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in clinical practice including partner notification issues, pregnancy choices, criminalisation of STI/HIV transmission and non-disclosure
  • The Public Health role and responsibilities associated with working as a Sexual Health Adviser

Knowledge, skills and experience required for STIF SSHA Competency training

  1. STIF Core and STIF Plus theory course (or equivalent)
  2. GUM clinical experience –at least 25 clinics in the last 12 months in a Level 3 GUM service (or fully integrated SRH service) seeing both male and female patients.
  3. Designated e-Learning for Healthcare (eLfH) sessions in the e-HIVSTI project.

What does STIFSSHA Competency training involve?

STIF SSHA Competency training and assessment is structured as a clinical attachment within a Level 3 Integrated service and comprises:

  • Initial meeting between the Trainee and the Named Clinical Trainer to plan the clinical attachment based on a Learning Needs Assessment Questionnaire completed in advance by the Trainee
  • Minimum of two initial training sessions
  • Previously having undertaken at least 25 clinics in the last 12 months in a Level 3 GUM service or fully integrated SRH service seeing both male and female patients and managing them independently as a Sexual Health Adviser; at least 25% of the patients seen must be male. Notes from some of these sessions should be reviewed with the trainer prior to starting training alongside the Learning Needs Assessment Questionnaire
  • Trainee fills in log book as training proceeds
  • Formal assessment of competence every 1-2 weeks using assessment tools (mini-CEX forms and case-based discussion forms)
  • Final summative assessment

Assessment methods

Most assessments are carried out in real clinical situations with real patients using mini-CEX forms. In some circumstances, it may be possible for certain competencies to be assessed in a role play situation or by a case-based discussion.


Criteria for being a Named or Lead Trainer for SHAs will be clarified after the completion of the Pilot. It is the responsibility of the Named Trainer for a particular SHA Trainee to ensure that the relevant professionals are available and competent to assess the trainee.

Evaluation of the training

Both Trainers and Trainees will be asked complete an Evaluation Questionnaire at the end. This is particularly important for a pilot of a new programme (but see earlier comment on feedback as well).

All those undertaking the training as part of the pilot will be required to submit the entire portfolio for quality assurance purposes prior to the award of the final certificate.



For this pilot of the STIFSSHA Competency Training and Assessment we are looking for objective feedback on the materials and the process. Please do not feel you have to wait until the end to tell us. People will undertake the training and assessment at different rates and we don’t want to find out later about something we could have fixed sooner. We want to know what does work and what could be better. We want to hear from you if you think there are things which are missing and ought to be included – for example any e-learning you feel should be added and/or any additional areas of competency.

Do you feel we should compile some other training resources apart from e-learning for Health? If so, which?

Should we ask for some reflective writing on a selection of cases seen?