One of the most common struggles for healthcare professionals is trying to balance the demands of work with home life, as shift patterns can make it difficult to be around when needed for family and other commitments. Agency work can provide a degree of control, but temporary roles also come with less job stability and uncertainty over working patterns.
However, doctors, nurses and physiotherapists who want to improve their work-life balance do have some alternative options available. One less traditional option is to work fixed hours in an office environment as a functional assessor.
What is a functional assessor?
The term ‘functional assessor’ is fairly new. The role involves carrying out face-to-face interviews with benefit claimants and preparing detailed clinical assessments for the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments. It is similar to the role clinical assessors perform, but the employers and the range of benefit claims involved are quite different.
The Centre for Health and Disability Assessments has assessment centres across the UK and uses functional assessors to investigate claims for Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Veterans UK and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. PIP assessors do a very similar job, but the claims investigated are related to Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) which tend to be more associated with permanent disablements as opposed to temporary or work-related conditions.
Are these positions suitable for all healthcare professionals?
Functional assessor roles are best fitted to doctors, nurses and physiotherapists who have good clinical assessment skills and are confident in making decisions. Interpersonal skills are very important, along with the ability to write concise reports. A paid four-week training course is provided to ensure all candidates are capable of carrying out their duties.
These roles are ideal for doctors, nurses and physiotherapists who are looking to make a career move but still want to keep their clinical skills up to date. They are unlikely to appeal to those who are strongly committed to delivering hands-on care in their role rather than focusing more on assessments. However, we have seen healthcare professionals from a wide range of clinical backgrounds excel within these roles.
What are the benefits?
The key benefits are a much more sociable 9-5 working day with bank holidays off and an opportunity to escape the stress of working within a clinical environment. Successful applicants will also have the opportunity to greatly develop their clinical knowledge as they come into contact with a much broader range of conditions than those healthcare professionals working in a single speciality.
In addition, the role offers a number of opportunities to develop your career further, whether through paid training or gaining more experience in certain areas. For example, nurses who want to keep their NMC and hands-on nursing skills up to date have the option of supplementing their earnings by doing shifts at the weekend or in the evenings.
Functional assessor salary
Salaries start at £38,000 (£44,000 in London). There are also a number of other benefits including paid training, private healthcare and childcare vouchers.
Am I eligible?
In order to become a functional assessor, you must be a GMC registered doctor, an NMC registered nurse (RGN or RNMH) or a physiotherapist with a current HCPC registration. You must also have at least two years of post-registration experience to be eligible to apply.
You will need strong oral and written communication skills and confident interpersonal abilities. This can be demonstrated through a record of showing empathy and respect to patients, as well as delivering a high level of service to the people you work with and treat.
Due to the nature of the role, honesty, integrity and adherence to customer and authority confidentiality are also very important. IT skills are a must, along with a willingness to travel where necessary.
Finally, any previous experience of functional or disability assessment or diversity/disability awareness training would be advantageous for candidates wanting to take up the role.
Find out more
Unfortunately, we no longer employ functional assessors.
We do, however, offer a wide range of PIP assessor roles. Find out what life is like working as an assessor and browse our latest jobs.
*This post was originally published on 14/04/2015 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Last updated on 2 July 2020.