“The best thing in my nursing associate journey has been getting feedback from my patients on the care I’ve given them that they’re really happy, and it was a great experience.”
The registered nursing associate is a new support role in England that bridges the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses to deliver hands-on, person-centred care as part of the nursing team. Nursing associates work with people of all ages in a variety of settings in health and social care.
Nursing associates are members of the nursing team who have gained a Nursing Associate Foundation Degree, awarded by a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved provider, typically involving two years of higher-level study. During this time, the trainee nursing associate undertakes both theoretical and placement hours, and meets proficiencies defined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Registered Nursing Associates are required to work to a nationally recognised code of conduct. After successfully completing the foundation degree, it is then necessary to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council in order to practice as a Registered Nursing Associate.
Salary, hours and benefits
|Standard hours are usually around 37.5 to 40 hours a week
|You could work
Shifts, which could involve nights, early starts, evenings, and weekends. Some roles may involve office hours.
Training as a nursing associate via the apprenticeship route enables you to earn while you learn.
As a trainee nursing associate or nursing associate, you will also benefit from:
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- supporting people with a learning disability to live independently,
- setting up intravenous drips and taking blood samples,
- using monitoring equipment like electrocardiograms (ECGs),
- recording data, for instance temperature and blood pressure,
- cleaning and dressing wounds,
- giving injections and certain medications,
- sharing information about patients’ progress with registered nurses,
- maintaining hygiene standards and managing infection risks,
- updating patient and work records.
As a nursing associate based in a specialist learning disability setting, you may be caring for and supporting people in their own home, in the community, in a hospital, or in any health and care setting, working with registered nurses and other health and care professionals as part of a multidisciplinary team.
Characteristics and skills required
You’ll need to be:
- a desire to help people,
- to be thorough and able to pay attention to detail,
- the ability to work well with others,
- the ability to accept constructive criticism and work well under pressure,
- sensitivity and understanding,
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations,
- excellent verbal communication skills,
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device.
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults.
Career path and progression
The nursing associate role is a standalone role. However, it also provides a progression route into graduate-level nursing. This means that, upon completion of your training, you can go on to train as a registered nurse by undertaking a shortened nursing degree apprenticeship.
There is a range of roles within nursing, from support to leadership.
|Career Framework level
|3 and 4
Assistant practitioner is a clinical role, delivering person-centred care with other members of the nursing team. Assistant practitioners will provide direct care to people, and may contribute to service improvement projects, support the collection of data relating to safety and quality, and supervise those in healthcare support worker roles. They work under the direction of a registered health professional, as part of a team with other healthcare staff, and have a lot of contact with patients.
|Foundation degree which may be available as an apprenticeship programme
Nursing associates work with people of all ages in a variety of settings in health and social care. As a nursing associate based in a learning disability setting, you may be caring for and supporting people in their own home, in the community, in a hospital, or in any health and care setting, working with registered nurses and other health and care professionals as part of a multidisciplinary team.
|Foundation-degree, delivered by a two-year apprenticeship programme.
|5 and 6
|Registered Nurse – Learning Disability
The registered nurse – learning disability plays a vital role, working with people with learning disabilities across the whole lifespan in both health and social care settings. By working with people and their families and putting the individual at the centre of everything they do, these nurses lead the way in achieving positive health and social outcomes for people with learning disabilities.
Can be delivered as an apprenticeship programme.
|Advanced Clinical Practitioner
Advanced clinical practice is delivered by experienced nurses and embodies the ability to manage clinical care in partnership with individuals, families, and carers. In the field of learning disability nursing, advanced clinical practitioners might specialise in a particular aspect of health service delivery to people with learning disabilities, such as physical health inequality, behaviour, forensics, or autism.
Nurse consultants, also called consultant nurses, are highly experienced nurses who have specialised in a chosen area of practice. All consultant nurse posts are firmly based in clinical and nursing practice and involve nurses working directly with patients, clients, or communities for much of their time.
How to become a Nursing Associate
You can get into this job through:
- an apprenticeship,
- working towards this role,
- volunteering and experience.
The main route to becoming a trainee nursing associate is through a nursing associate apprenticeship programme, supported by a healthcare employer. To be accepted onto a nursing associate apprenticeship programme you will need to be employed in a healthcare role, most commonly as a healthcare support worker, have GCSEs grade 9 to 4 (A to C) in maths and English, or Functional Skills Level 2 in maths and English as a minimum. You will also need to demonstrate your ability to study to level 5 foundation degree level and commit to completing the nursing associate apprenticeship programme.
The nursing associate apprenticeship programme typically takes two years and includes both academic and work-based learning. The apprenticeship prepares trainees to work with people of all ages and in a variety of settings in health and social care. Training includes a mixture of hands-on experience in the workplace, supported by learning in the classroom.
You can also apply directly to universities and fund the course yourself. Each university sets its own entry requirements so you will need to check the requirements for any university where you apply for the programme. For trainee nursing associates on self-funded or direct-entry programmes, you will spend more time in the classroom and will also gain practical experience in a range of healthcare settings.
You could start as a healthcare assistant or care worker in a hospital or community care setting. Once you have some experience, you could apply for a place on the nursing associate higher apprenticeship and train on the job.
Volunteering and experience
You will find it useful to get some paid or voluntary experience in a healthcare setting or personal care role. This will help when you apply for jobs.
You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS Trust for advice about opportunities.
From within health and social care
If you are already working in the health and social care sector and looking for a new challenge, then you can change career to become a nursing associate within learning disability and autism support and care. You will need to map your skills and experience against the entry criteria for this role, as advertised by employers or universities.
From outside health and social care
If you want to work in health and social care and you are looking for a new challenge, then you can change career to become a nursing associate within learning disability and autism support and care. You will need to map your skills and experience against the entry criteria for this role, as advertised by employers or universities.
As the main route to being a nursing associate is through an apprenticeship, this means you will be earning a salary while you learn.
Once registered and working as a nursing associate, if you work in an NHS organisation in London you are given an uplift in salary, known as London weighting. This is a percentage increase in your salary depending on the location of your employer within the London region.
Jobs in the UK
Most NHS Trusts advertise their vacancies on NHS Jobs. Some advertise on their own websites.