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Higher Level Apprenticeship Nursing Associate

Become a knowledgeable and skilled member of the nursing team, supporting registered nurses to provide high-quality, safe, person-centred care. Please note this programme is currently subject to NMC approval.

Earn as you learn as a Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) employed apprentice.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma

Pass an Access to HE Diploma with at least 30 credits at merit

T level P (C+ in core elements)

Maths & English grade 4/C

Equivalent qualifications may be considered, including workplace-delivered NVQs

Applicants will need to be in employment in a healthcare environment for a minimum of 30 hours per week with on-site registered nurses and nursing associates who are willing to support the applicant to achieve all programme requirements. Applicants will also be required to complete an Initial Needs Analysis (INA) to show substantive skills development needs which can be met through completion of the Higher-Level Nursing Associate Apprenticeship.  In addition to this, applicants will need to demonstrate values in accordance with The NMC Code (2018) Professional Standards of Practice for nurses, midwives and nursing associates with the capability to learn behaviours in accordance with The Code. 

See full entry requirements

Duration 2 years full time

Course Summary

Nursing associates work with healthcare support workers and support registered nurses across the four fields of nursing to provide high-quality, safe, person-centred care in a wide range of health and care settings across the lifespan. This two-year foundation degree is mapped to the NMC (2018) Standards of proficiency for nursing associates and the Nursing Associate (NMC, 2018) Standard (IfATE, 2019) and includes both academic and practice-based learning. Successful completion of the programme leads to eligibility to apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in England.

Why this course at Marjon

Taught by committed and experienced registered nurse academics and other registered professionals from a wide range of clinical backgrounds.

Accelerated learning through combining academic theory with clinical simulation in our new first-class suite. Learners will understand why their new knowledge and skills are relevant and how to apply these in their clinical practice, contributing to high-quality, safe care.

Close working relationships with professional colleagues in clinical practice, ensuring our programme is responsive and relevant to local needs and helping learners to robustly prepare for their future role as accountable registrants.

High-quality placements in clinical practice, working with local healthcare providers in acute and community care settings, with guided learning to help students develop knowledge and skills specific to the area of clinical practice.

Focus on supporting learners to become safe, accountable professionals through developing robust critical thinking and complex problem-solving and teamwork skills, empowering learners to contribute to nursing teams through effective self-management and ability to positively respond to challenges.

Modules for this course

1st Year

Developing Nursing Associate Practice 1
This all-year clinical practice-based module will enable learners to develop the professional knowledge, skills and behaviours required for the delivery of high-quality, safe, person-centred care. Learners will develop core proficiencies within their scope of professional nursing associate practice in the context of evidence-based practice, local policy and legal and ethical frameworks under the direction or supervision of a registered practitioner. Placements in clinical practice will provide opportunities for learners to meet the Standards of proficiency for nursing associates (NMC, 2018) across the lifespan and in a variety of settings, gaining a breadth of experience across the different fields of nursing. Whilst in clinical placements, learners will be continuously assessed and undertake two formal assessments including an Episode of Care and Medicines Management. Formal assessments will be completed by a designated Practice Assessor.
Foundations of Nursing Associate Practice
Students will contextualise their health and social care knowledge and understanding by exploring its origins, philosophy and priorities including the introduction of the nursing associate role within contemporary healthcare teams. Students will learn about the NMC Code (2018) in-depth and the professional standards of practice and behaviour expected of nurses, midwives and nursing associates, developing an understanding of the importance of values-based practice and delivering compassionate, person-centred care within a range of health and social care environments.
Communication and Relationship Management Skill in Nursing Associate Practice
This module supports learners to contribute to holistic, high-quality person-centred care through effective, sensitive, and compassionate communication through developing interpersonal skills which are respectful, therapeutic, and ethical. Learners will develop their knowledge and understanding of a range of communication skills to support individuals, families, and carers, demonstrating cultural awareness and valuing their needs, priorities, and preferences. Learners will learn how to make reasonable adjustments where required to ensure equal access to quality care by sharing appropriate and accessible information in a way that promotes good health and health outcomes. Learners will also develop their communication skills to ensure high-quality person-centred care by communicating effectively within interprofessional and integrated care teams.
Applied Anatomy, Physiology and Procedural Skills for Nursing Associates
This module helps students to develop their knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of key human body systems across the lifespan to support robust holistic assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care in nursing associate practice. In addition to formal teaching and learning, students will apply their learning in the Clinical Simulation Suite using a range of clinical scenarios and case studies and will be introduced to various assessment tools used in contemporary nursing practice. Students will learn how to assess, identify, interpret and document essential clinical data, identifying normal ranges and deviations and will learn how to escalate to other members of the interprofessional team promptly when required, using the SBAR Tool (Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation) to ensure effective and clear communication and to promote patient safety at all times.
Assessing, Monitoring and Contributing to Integrated Care for Nursing Associates
This module will introduce students to the theory of nursing practice and the importance of history-taking and robust holistic assessment using a bio-psycho-social approach and accurate documentation of assessment data and information. Students will develop their understanding of the first stage of assessment, interpreting clinical data to establish a baseline from which they will be able to prioritise, demonstrating an understanding of context and its impact on immediate care planning, implementation, and evaluation of care. Students will learn about the importance of developing therapeutic relationships and using contemporary evidence to support clinical decision-making. Students will also develop their knowledge and skills and learn how to assess risk in clinical practice to promote safety and reduce harm, recognising when escalation to the wider interprofessional team is required.

2nd Year

Developing Nursing Associate Practice 2
This all-year practice-based module builds on learning in Year 1 and will enable students to transfer and consolidate their knowledge, skills and professional behaviours as part of the team in clinical practice. Students will work towards practising independently with minimal supervision to provide and monitor high-quality, safe, person-centred care, demonstrating increasing knowledge, skills and confidence. Students will work towards achieving the Standards of proficiency for nursing associates (NMC, 2018) throughout their working life and in different settings and fields of nursing. Whilst in clinical placements, learners will be continuously assessed and undertake three formal assessments including (1) Episode of Care 1 (2) Episode of Care 2 and (3) Medicines Management as required in their Year 2 Practice Assessment Document (PAD). All formal assessments will be completed by a designated Practice Assessor.
Professional and Personal Development for Nursing Associates
This module will help students to develop their skills and ability to reflect on their own personal, professional, and academic development and explore issues relating to quality healthcare service delivery. Students will explore the demands of professional practice and learn how to recognise signs of vulnerability in themselves, or their colleagues and the actions required to minimise risks to personal health. This will include helping students to develop strategies to build resilience, including when and how to seek support to help deal with uncertain situations. Students will also critically reflect on their own practice and feedback received to evaluate their own and the service user's experience, meeting the requirements of the NMC.
Promoting Health and Preventing Ill Health
In this module, students will explore sociological factors which impact health status and examine concepts of health and illness and their social context from a life-course perspective, exploring health inequalities and evaluating factors that contribute to a community network. Students will also learn about the theories, principles and concepts that underpin public health practice and its intended impact across sectors to address health inequalities and improve health. Students will examine trends and patterns in population health, including epidemiology and health statistics and work towards adopting a systematic approach to developing health improvement interventions. Students will also learn about health promotion, exploring the methods in which interventions can be planned, managed, and evaluated, to develop the maximum impact and benefit for society.
Medicines Management
This module will help students to develop their knowledge, skills and professional behaviours to ensure the safe administration of medicines via various routes within the context of the NMC (2018) Standards of proficiency for nursing associates, with a specific focus on Annex B Procedural Skills, Section 10: Procedural competencies required for administering medicines safely. Students will develop their knowledge of accountability and working within ethico-legal and policy frameworks, as well as the underpinning principles of pharmacology and the relevance of indications and use of medicines and their contra-indications, cautions, interactions and side-effects and how to recognise and safely manage adverse reactions. Students will also learn about assessing mental capacity and how to make reasonable adjustments where required.
Improving Patient Safety through Research
The final module of the programme focuses on developing the student’s awareness of current patient safety issues and understanding the importance of applying valid research-based evidence to nursing associate practice to understand and reduce risk and prevent harm. Students will learn about risk factors which contribute to patient safety incidents in an increasingly complex healthcare system and the importance of adhering to local policy guidelines. Students will learn about different types of research used in nursing including qualitative and quantitative research and will understand the importance of using research to develop their own professional practice with a focus on continuous improvement and influencing teams.

Please note: This course is subject to validation which means that it is either a new course or that the content is currently being updated. You can apply for this course now while some of the details of the course are being finalised by the University. Please contact the course leader if you would like further information.

Perfect if you're curious about

Developing a career in modern healthcare

Making a positive difference to people’s lives everyday

Becoming part of a nursing team and contributing to high-quality, safe care

How the human body works and what to do when things go wrong

How research improves professional practice and patient safety

Developing a career as a Registered Nurse across any of the 4 fields of nursing including Child Health; Mental Health; Learning Disability and Adult nursing.

What might you become?

On successful completion, graduates are eligible to apply to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council as a Registered Nursing Associate.

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

This programme is delivered on our Plymouth Campus and includes both academic theory and clinical practice, which are delivered side-by-side. Apprentices will be released by their employer to attend a weekly Study Day which will include lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, clinical simulation, group discussions, debates, peer support, study skills and more. Apprentices are required to complete 1150 hours in clinical practice over 2 years by the end of the programme, including 460 hours in External Placements and 690 hours Protected Learning Time. This is equal to 575 hours per year.

Placements will be jointly managed by the employer and Plymouth Marjon University Clinical Education Team and will provide apprentices with a range of placement opportunities to develop the breadth of learning required for the nursing associate role.

How will you be assessed?

The programme specifically prepares students for professional practice as nursing associates, and all assessments are there to ensure understanding and application of the knowledge skills and professional behaviours required. Academic assessments include essays, case studies, In-Class Tests, practical assessments in the clinical skills lab, academic poster presentations and literature reviews. Students maintain a Practice Assessment Document (PAD) and Professional Practice Portfolio (PPP) which records continuous and formal assessments in clinical practice including Episodes of Care and Medicines Management, to evidence achievement of the NMC (2018) Standards of proficiency for nursing associates; Professional Values (The NMC Code, 2018) and the Nursing Associate (NMC, 2018) Standard (IfATE, 2019). Upon successful completion of programme requirements and the End-Point Assessment (EPA), apprentices will be eligible to apply for entry to the NMC Register as nursing associates.

Course leader

Sandy is a registered nurse, midwife, specialist public health nurse and experienced nurse academic and programme leader.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £15,000

As an employee, apprentices are paid a salary and through the Apprenticeship Levy of the supporting organisation, the following services are provided at no cost: tuition fees, tripartite reviews, End-Point Assessment (EPA), access to course-specific equipment and facilities including the Clinical Simulation Suite Associated academic services including the library, study skills training, IT support, student support and wellbeing services, and membership of the Student Union. Employers: For larger employers, apprenticeship levy funding can fully meet the costs of training, assessment and certification. For smaller employers, funding may be available to support fees. Please contact the Programme Leader for further details.

Additional costs:

  • Textbooks
  • Stationary
  • Printing/Photocopying
  • Membership of a Union (Optional but advised)
  • NMC registration on completion of the programme.
  • There may be some discretionary trips and other activities to support your studies

Frequently asked questions

Q1   Can I specialise in a specific area as a Nursing Associate?

Upon entry to the NMC Register, Nursing Associates are knowledgeable and will have developed generic skills to support registered nurses in the assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care. These skills can be applied to all fields and specialities of nursing. Thus, once qualified, it may be possible to specialise in a specific clinical area but this will depend on your local employer's workforce plans.

Q2   Do I have to attend other placements away from my employer?

Yes. You are required to complete 460 hours over 2 years or 230 hours per year in External Placements. Depending on the type of organisation you are employed in, will determine the type of placements you will need to complete. Very large organisations will often include placements within their own organisations but in separate teams. For example, an apprentice based with the Community Nursing Team may have an External Placement with the Health Visiting Team to gain experience in both public health and child health. An apprentice employed within a large Trust may complete placements in various departments. For example, an apprentice may complete a placement in the Care of the Elderly and then a placement in a Paediatric High-Dependency Unit (HDU) to gain acute experience in child health. If an apprentice is based within a GP Practice or Community Hospital, then the apprentice will need to complete placements within the acute hospital setting and Community Nursing.

Q3   My employer is keen to support me through this route, but they've never had an apprentice before, is this still possible?

Absolutely. Your employer will need to contact the Programme Leader for further information about this and preparations may include PMU Educational Audit; discussion regarding programme placement requirements; completion of the NMC Apprenticeship Modification process and completion of Practice Supervisor and Practice Assessor training for registered nurse and nursing associates within the organisation to support the apprentice(s). Employers are advised to plan up to 6 months in advance to complete the processes required and submit NMC Apprenticeship Modification Form, if applicable, to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for approval before the commencement of the programme.

Q4   Can I apply for student finance or a maintenance loan?

No. Unfortunately, apprentices are not eligible for student loans. Your employer and the government will meet the tuition fees of your apprenticeship. As an employee, you will be paid a salary by your employer. This means you can graduate debt-free. You will also not be eligible for student discounts, including Council Tax exemption, although you will be able to apply for an NUS Apprentice Extra card.

Q5   Do Nursing Associates administer medication?

Yes – the administration of medicines is included in the NMC (2018) Standards of proficiency for nursing associates, Annex B procedural skills Section 10.  Students will be introduced to the safe administration of medicines in Year 1 and will prepare to complete formal assessments as part of clinical practice modules. When administering medications in clinical practice, students must be supervised at all times by a qualified member of the team throughout the programme. In Year 2, students will complete a Medicines Management module to prepare for this role, learning about the underpinning principles of pharmacology as well as working within current legislation and local policy frameworks to ensure patient safety.

Q6   Do I apply through UCAS?

No, apprentices apply through their employer. Please contact the Education/Apprenticeship Lead for your organisation to discuss your interest in the role.

More information

Whilst the Nursing Associate is a new and valued role within the nursing team, it also provides a platform from which to develop further. Apprentices may wish to qualify as a registered nurse and because of the generic nature of the role, can apply for BSc (Hons) Nursing or a Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship (RNDA) across the four fields of nursing, including Child Health, Mental Health, Learning Disability and Adult. Apprentices will be able to apply for up to 50% (maximum allowed)  ‘Recognition for Prior Learning’ (RPL) on NMC-approved nursing programmes and complete their studies within 18 months – 2 years. Alternatively, they could progress onto a non-professional BSc (Hons) award. If you are interested in qualifying as a registered nurse, then please contact your organisational Education/Apprenticeship Lead to discuss this further.

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