A nursing associate (NA) is a position to work within the nursing team providing care and support to patients and other healthcare service users. It is among the new roles in nursing that started in England. Trainees get an apprenticeship for all areas of nursing enabling them to work across different healthcare areas. Most of the trainees are recruits from existing roles they perform as healthcare assistants. The purpose of a nursing associate role is to train healthcare workers who bridge the gap between registered nurses and health care assistants.

Qualifications to become a nursing associate

Anybody with an interest to serve in healthcare can apply to be a nursing associate even without traditional academic qualifications. The entry requirements might also depend on the local university, and it is essential to contact an institution or NHS trust for clarification. NA is becoming a prominent role in the UK so applicants to join the program must be fluent in English in addition to a high grade in math. A DRB check that previously was called CRB is also another essential qualification.

The educational background to become a nursing associate is to have a minimum of the following:

  • Level 2 Math and English
  • NVQ or an equivalent level 3 in a health-related subject

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Training and development to become a nursing associate

Nursing associate training takes about two years of full-time training comprising of clinical and academic work. The training combines classroom with practical learning. A trainee undertakes to attend academic learning for one day of the week and engage in practical work-based learning for other days of the week.

Trainees will develop an understanding of all the elements of the nursing process. They also learn about caring for individuals with specials conditions such as mental illness, dementia and learning disabilities.

The training involves travelling to placements and working in a mix of shifts. The purpose is to provide training that makes nursing associates have skills to work in specific healthcare settings such as mental, community and acute health hospital. It also provides experience to work at care homes, hospices, other care settings and situations.

Nursing associates after qualification can go ahead and train to become a registered nurse by enrolling for a shorter nursing program or complete nurse apprenticeship to a nursing degree.

The shorter training time makes the study, placements and job roles to be extremely demanding and it is essential to have a management policy. A nursing associate should at the end of training have these personality traits.

  • Knowledge
  • Understanding
  • Positive attitude
  • Ability to work in the role

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Role of placement in becoming a nursing associate

Trainee nursing associates must get placements in these three healthcare settings:

  • Hospital
  • Home
  • Close to the home settings

The primary placements where NAs get employment are based in one of the above training contexts but must gain experience in at least one of the other two. It is a requirement to ensure that trainee nursing associates experience a wide range of contexts and learning opportunities as necessary to deliver the essential learning outcomes.

A learning environment in all the placements must provide and facilitate learning activities with a design to achieve stated learning outcomes. The placement incorporates all activities that support trainees in the construction of their learning. Successful nursing associates get employment and move to a higher salary category than the position they were during training.

Nursing apprenticeship is a position to earn while learning and still get experience to work in a healthcare setting or join an accelerated degree program to become a registered nurse.