• Nursing Associates

Why Do We Need Nursing Associates?

The Nursing Associate role was introduced in response to the Shape of Caring Review (Health Education England, 2015), to help build the capacity of the nursing workforce and the delivery of high-quality care. The role is a proving to be a vital part of the wider health and care team and aims to:

  • Support the career progression of health care assistants
  • Enable nurses to focus on more complex clinical work
  • Increase the supply of nurses by providing a progression route into graduate-level nursing.

Education Pathways to Qualification

Currently, most Registered Nursing Associate training programmes are being delivered through the apprenticeship route. The nursing associate apprenticeship standard was approved for delivery in 2017 some spaces are available through direct applications to the university.

Other pathways to working as a Nursing Associate include Retire and Return, self-funded candidates, and overseas recruitment. Please click here to compare these pathways.

A Registered Nursing Associate qualification contains a number of different elements:

  • A foundation degree training programme is usually taken over two years. During this time, the trainees must complete at least 2,300 programme hours which are divided to achieve an equal balance of theory and practice learning. This equates to half the hours required for a registered nursing qualification.
  • To meet the requirements of the training programme, trainee nursing associates must work in a range of settings and situations to gain as much experience as possible across different age groups.
  • The trainees must complete at least two substantial placements (totalling a minimum of 460 hours) in settings other than their primary place of employment. . External practice placements enable the TNA’s to develop breadth of experience, they also compliment their development and understanding of the healthcare system and the population that they are working in.
  • As part of the Nursing Associate apprenticeship, trainees must meet the 15 standards set out in the care certificate. If they do not already hold level 2 English and maths qualification, these must also be achieved before completing the programme.
  • Requirements for training and education are set out and regulated by the NMC in its standards for pre-registration nursing associate programmes.

Scope of Practice

The NMC has developed and published standards of proficiency for nursing associates. These standards provide a clear picture of what Registered Nursing Associates know and can do when they join the register.

In General Practice, Registered Nursing Associates are complimenting the nursing team across Primary Care Networks, examples include;

  • Baby immunisation clinics
  • Cervical sample taker
  • Wound care, complexity increases with experience
  • Lower Limb Management including compression bandaging
  • Administer prescribed medications (including IM/SC) – Not currently under PGD
  • AVPI (RN remains responsible for assessment)
  • Long Term Condition Reviews (Asthma, COPD, Diabetes, Hypertension)
  • Accurately undertake risk assessments, using assessment tools such as MUST, MMSE, falls assessment, NEWS2
  • Safeguarding, recognise and escalate signs of all forms of abuse
  • Recognise and escalate signs of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation

Registered Nursing Associates will also have the ability to communicate effectively, with sensitivity and compassion, providing high quality person centred care.

It is important to remember that this role is different to that of the graduate Registered Nurse.  The Registered Nurse maintains responsibility for assessing, coordinating and evaluating care and leading and managing teams.   The Nursing Associate will provide and monitor care, whilst contributing to integrated care.


For more details about the role of Registered Nursing Associates, please click here.

Case Studies

The video below provides an insight into the role of nursing associates, and why current nursing associates chose this role.

To see more case studies from newly qualified nursing associates, please click here.