Nursing Associate Apprenticeship

This foundation degree programme aims to produce nursing associates who are able to practice safely and effectively within their parameters of practice, demonstrating appropriate values and behaviours in a wide range of health and care settings. At the end of their course, students will be regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). This includes adhering to the Code, completing revalidation and being subject to fitness to practise processes.

A nurse and an academic.

Leading to the award of: Foundation Degree

Programme duration: 2 years full-time

Intakes a year (dependent on numbers): March and October

Read more about the nursing associate profession on the NMC website

On this page:

Key programme information

  • It is an Apprenticeship Foundation Degree course (Level 4 study first year and Level 5 study second year)
  • It is a generic course - not field specific, but covers all four fields (Adult, Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Child)
  • The course is split into work-based learning and alternative learning (university study days, alternative placements)
  • The trainee nursing associate completes 3375 hours or learning over the two-year programme
  • The trainee nursing associate is employed 37.5 hours per week
  • 2025 hours are completed in the work-based environment, with 950 hours evidenced as protected learning time
  • 675 hours of learning are in the alternative placement areas
  • 675 hours of learning are in the university setting
  • The two years are divided into 4 units.

    How is this achieved?

    Trainee Nursing Associates (TNAs) must experience placements in each of the three health and care settings: hospital, at home and close to home settings. Their primary placement, where they are employed, will be based in one of these training contexts but they must have experience of at least one other placement in each of the other two. This is in order to ensure that the trainee nursing associate experiences as wide a range of learning opportunities and contexts as necessary to fully deliver the required learning outcomes.

    The learning environment in all placements should provide and facilitate learning activities designed to achieve the stated learning outcomes. This supports trainees in the construction of their own learning through those activities.

    The average TNA will successfully achieve the described outcomes on the basis of appropriate assessment tasks and criteria. Successful completion of the programme is based on achievement of all learning outcomes.

    A blended-learning approach, designed to encourage TNAs to behave in ways most likely to achieve the necessary outcomes, is used with teaching, learning and assessment activities aligned to the learning outcomes.

    Offering a creative and flexible approach to learning, recognising and promoting activities that support the overall aims of the programme in developing a compassionate, competent and confident nursing associate and a motivated, autonomous, life-long learner, is encouraged.

    The programme also acknowledges and respects the clinical skills already developed in their previous role. However, these skills now have to be undertaken with an ability to apply the knowledge acquired in learning activities.

    Programme Team

    Programme Leader 

    Deputy Programme Leader

    Programme Support

    Judith Septon
    0114 222 2070
    j.sephton@sheffield.ac.uk

    Sally Snowden
    0114 222 2086
    sally.snowden@sheffield.ac.uk

    Deborah Reid
    0114 222 2037
    snm-admin@sheffield.ac.uk

    University Teachers
    Name Telephone Email

    Lynne Firth

    0114 222 2049

    lynne.firth@sheffield.ac.uk

    Elaine Shaw

    0114 222 2031

    elaine.shaw@sheffield.ac.uk 

    Kevin Bonardt

    0114 222 2628

    k.j.bonardt@sheffield.ac.uk

    Claire Knight

    0114 222 2627

    claire.knight@sheffield.ac.uk

    Clinical Educators

    Name

    Telephone

    Email Address

    Aasia Rajpoot (Sheffield areas)

    07523910146

    a.rajpoot@sheffield.ac.uk

    Zoe Black (Sheffield areas)

    07895332431

    z.black@sheffield.ac.uk 

    Joanne Sessions (Doncaster areas)

    07523910145

    j.l.sessions@sheffield.ac.uk

    Kathryn Haran (Doncaster areas)

    07892766276

    k.haran@sheffield.ac.uk 

    Amy Bradley (Barnsley/Rotherham areas)

    TBC

    amy.bradley@sheffield.ac.uk 

    Course Structure

    The course follows an apprenticeship route of work-based learning (base placement) with regular additional placements in alternative areas to ensure experience across the life-span and in all fields of health and social care. Academic learning is with the Division of Nursing & Midwifery, lead and facilitated by experienced nurses and various specialist healthcare practitioners.

    The programme emphasises the role that nursing associates can play in life-course (pre- conception to end of life) approaches towards health and well-being and the ways in which they actively contribute to the delivery of holistic care. Holistic care is a whole-person approach which considers and equally values:

    • physical needs
    • psychological needs
    • public health needs
    • learning disabilities needs and considerations
    • social, economic, spiritual and other factors in the planning and delivery of care

    To support this, TNAs engage with learning activities that focus around the following NMC platforms:

    1. Being an accountable professional
    2. Promoting health and preventing ill health
    3. Provide and monitor care
    4. Working in teams
    5. Improving safety and quality of care
    6. Contributing to integrated care

    Work-Based Learning

    This is the main approach to learning on this programme and the following should be considered by both supervisor and student in organising learning activities:

    • Is a well-established educational theory
    • Can take many forms and should be designed to meet the specific needs of the Nursing Associate Training Programme and the trainee nursing associate’s working role, the relevant employment sector and the type of employer
    • Could involve any (or all) of the following work-based learning types; learning through work, learning for work and learning at work
    • Placements should provide appropriate environments for trainee nursing associates to achieve specific, negotiated learning outcomes. The work environment should be able to support learner- managed, reflective learning and practice at the appropriate levels
    • Constructed around developing and using specific and transferable skills
    • Should provide authentic opportunities for trainee nursing associates to work, develop and learn and to apply the skills and knowledge that they have acquired. Working in itself is not sufficient

    Alternative Learning - Clinical Placements

    TNAs must experience health and social care across the lifespan and across all fields of nursing (adult, mental health, learning disability, child) so external placements are arranged within the locality throughout the two-year programme.

    Whilst on an external placement trainees are regarded as students and not employees and are therefore not counted in workload numbers. Learning experiences are supervised by Practice Supervisors from the external placement who know the learning outcomes that need to be achieved and discuss individual learning needs with each trainee nursing associate they support. Each external placement is audited by the Division of Nursing and Midwifery as a suitable learning environment.

    These placements are organised in conjunction with employers, external placement providers within the region and the clinical educators for the locality. 

    What will a trainee nursing associate be expected to do?

    TNAs are equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours that enable them to support the delivery of nursing care in and across a wide range of health and care settings.

    TNAs work within the sphere of nursing and care, under the leadership and direction of registered nurses and other healthcare practitioners. The nursing associate works within all aspects of the nursing process providing high quality holistic and person-centred care to individuals and supporting the registered nurse in the assessment, planning and evaluation of care. However, the registered nurse retains responsibility as primary assessor, planner and evaluator of care.

    The nursing associate develops an understanding of the nursing process and the rationale for each stage within their training programme. They appreciate the importance of the registered nurses’ role in performing a holistic assessment prior to planning care and the need for them, as nursing associates, to utilise their own skills of ongoing assessment and evaluation in order to identify when an individual needs their plan of care re-visiting, be this due to improvement, deviation or deterioration of needs.

    The TNA is a key member of health and care teams in enabling and improving the delivery of safe, reliable care across a range of health and care services and settings. They extend the capacity and capability of the nursing workforce allowing registered nurses to focus more specialist care and advanced practice.

    TNAs are occupation-specific and whilst working under the leadership and direction of registered nurses, they have a degree of autonomy and exercise professional judgement to ensure that they are working always within the parameters of their practice.

    Service delivery now requires organisations and individuals to work together across care pathways and within new local models and frameworks of integrated care that are no longer linear and set by organisational boundaries. Access to care, and care itself, will be more tailored to the needs of local health populations. Nursing associates have the breadth of knowledge and a flexible, portable skillset to serve local health populations in a range of settings.

    Working individually and with others, nursing associates work to reduce unwarranted variation in health and care as a means of ensuring the delivery of the right care in the right place at the right time.

    Alternative Learning - University Study Days

    Study days may be at the University of Sheffield or arranged locally and this depends on agreements with employers. These include taught sessions and various learning activities (workshops, group and individual tutorials, guided study, online resources). 

    There is a requirement for trainees to have digital technology awareness before starting the programme which is why applicants are asked to complete the ‘basic computer skills’ training and assessment prior to starting the programme. There are also expectations of literacy and numeracy for applicants. Further learning in digital technology, numeracy and literacy will be facilitated whilst on the programme in order to meet the NMC standards for a Nursing Apprentice and the programme outcomes for a foundation degree.

    Programme Structure

    The programme is made up of 4 units and a final end point assessment that takes place after the course has finished:

    Unit 1: Foundations in Health for Nursing Associates

    60 Level 4 credits.

    Aim

    The overarching aim of this unit is to introduce students to the art, science and professional values of nursing and health and social care and provide the foundation upon which subsequent units build. It enables students to acquire a holistic core knowledge and skills base in the theory and practice of nursing associates and health.

    Learning Outcomes

    1. Demonstrates knowledge of the meaning of being an accountable, professional nursing associate with a duty of care to others.
    2. Describes the role of the nursing associate in person centred care, within the context of the multidisciplinary team
    3. Demonstrates knowledge of anatomy and physiology to underpin safe practice. 
    4. Demonstrates the ability to reflect on own communication skills and development needs. 
    5. Achieve the clinical practice standard required for this unit. 

    Assessment

    A one and a half hour invigilated MCQ exam, previously unseen. This is designed to test the understanding of key concepts relating to the anatomy and physiology taught in this unit (summative).

    A practical communication assessment with accompanying written summary of 500 words. This is designed to demonstrate appropriate communication skills within a simulated patient interaction using digital technology to record this interaction (summative). The written summary will discuss the importance of good communication in nurse patient interactions (formative).

    A 1000 word reflection based on an alternative field of nursing to meet EU Directive requirements. This is designed to get the trainee nursing associate to reflect on an occasion where they cared for a patient that is related to a field of nursing (summative).

    A health numeracy calculation test. Trainee nursing associates will be enrolled onto the online SafeMedicate system at the start of the programme which will support students in the development of health numeracy skills (formative). 

    A Practice Assessment Document (PAD) will be completed over the course. During the placement in Unit 1 - students will have guided participation in care and perform with increasing knowledge, skills and confidence. This is a pass/fail assessment.

    Unit 2: Developing Nursing Associate Practice: Caring for People with acute and short-term needs

    60 Level 4 credits.

    Aim

    The overarching aim of this unit is to continue to support students to develop the art and science of nursing whilst examining knowledge, skills and values required of the nursing associate to safely provide care within the field of acute care.

    Learning Outcomes

    1. Demonstrate knowledge of anatomy and physiology to underpin safe practice.
    2. Understand the safe use and action of medications
    3. Application of knowledge of the role of the nursing associate in the provision and monitoring of people and shared decision making within the multi-disciplinary/multi-agency team.
    4. Demonstrate safe and effective use of risk assessment and communication skills.
    5. Achieve the practice standard required for this unit. 

    Assessment

    A one and a half hour invigilated MCQ exam, previously unseen. This is designed to test the understanding of key concepts relating to the anatomy and physiology taught in this unit (summative).

    A structured clinical examination based on a simulated scenario of an acutely ill deteriorating patient. This will test the trainee nursing associates ability to perform an A to E assessment of a patient, understand the appropriate underpinning pathophysiology, use an appropriate risk tool and escalate concerns appropriately using a framework such as the SBAR technique (summative).

    A 1000 word reflection based on an alternative field of nursing to meet EU Directive requirements. This is designed to get the trainee nursing associate to reflect on an occasion where they cared for a patient that is related to a field of nursing (summative).

    A 1000 word assignment on pharmacology, medicine management and the nursing associate role. This is designed to get the trainee nursing associate to understand a patient’s health condition and how their medication has an impact on this (summative).

    A health numeracy calculation test which will support students in the development of health numeracy skills (formative). 

    A Practice Assessment Document (PAD) will be completed over the course. Unit 2 is the end of Part 1 so students MUST have completed all sections of the PAD before progressing onto Part 2. This is a pass/fail assessment.

    Unit 3: Developing Nursing Associate Practice: Caring for people with long-term and complex needs

    60 Level 5 credits.

    Aim

    The overarching aim of the unit is to expand student’s knowledge, skills and understanding of the health needs and experiences of patients living with long term and complex conditions and the impact that this may have on the individual, family / significant others.

    Learning Outcomes

    1. Explore the nursing associate’s role in promoting and protecting health, preventing ill-health and discuss factors that may lead to inequalities in health outcomes.
    2. Discuss the role of the nursing associate in multi-agency collaboration and integrated care across the health and social care sectors when caring for patients with long-term and complex conditions 
    3. Demonstrate understanding of the importance of user/ carer expertise in health care decision making and the personalisation of healthcare.
    4. Discuss best practice approaches to communication for managing complex and long term care needs; providing health information and checking understanding 
    5. Demonstrate health numeracy to underpin safe practice.
    6. Achieve the practice standard required for this unit. 

    Assessment

    A one hour invigilated exam designed to test the numeracy skills of the student, based on the modules undertaken as part of the SafeMedicate educational resources. 80% is the passing grade for this examination (summative).

    A 1000 word reflection based on an alternative field of nursing to meet EU Directive requirements. This is designed to get the trainee nursing associate to reflect on an occasion where they cared for a patient that is related to a field of nursing (summative).

    An educational resource aimed at patients/carers with a long term health condition with a 1000 word supporting paper. This is designed to get the trainee nursing associate to identify an issue from practice where a patient or their carer required information relating to their long term health condition. The supporting paper should consider lifestyle, interpersonal, environmental, occupational and socioeconomic factors that may have had an impact on the patient and their long term condition featured in the student’s presentation (summative).  

    A Practice Assessment Document (PAD) will be completed over the course. Unit 3 is the start of Part 2 so students are not expected to meet all the proficiencies in the first unit of Part 2. This is a pass/fail assessment.

    Unit 4: Transition to Professional Nursing Associate Practice (Apprenticeship route)

    60 Level 5 credits

    Aim

    The overarching aim is to enable students to meet the criteria for achieving this foundation degree and facilitate their transition into knowledgeable, skilled and safe practitioners. Completion of this programme permits progression towards the ‘end point assessment’ and success will permit entry onto the NMC professional register as a Nursing Associate.

    Learning Outcomes

    1. Demonstrate proficiency and accuracy when calculating dosages of prescribed medicines 
    2. Explore concepts and practice of patient safety, personal safety and coherently communicate findings. 
    3. Consider the role of the nursing associate as an ambassador, coach, supervisor, and professional role model.
    4. Achieve the clinical practice standard required for this unit. 
    5. Complete “End-point-assessment”

    Assessment

    A one hour invigilated exam designed to test the numeracy skills of the student, based on the modules undertaken as part of the SafeMedicate educational resources. 100% is the passing grade for this examination (summative).

    A 1000 word reflection based on an alternative field of nursing to meet EU Directive requirements. This is designed to get the trainee nursing associate to reflect on an occasion where they cared for a patient that is related to a field of nursing (summative).

    A risk assessment poster with a 1000 word supporting paper. This is designed to get the trainee nursing associate to consider lifestyle, interpersonal, environmental, occupational and socioeconomic factors that may have had an impact on the risk/safety aspect of patients and their care. The supporting paper should discuss patient/multidisciplinary decision making regarding risk and safety (summative).  

    Practice supervisor training is undertaken as part of theory hours. This is to prepare the trainee nursing associate for their role as a practice supervisor upon registering as a nursing associate. This is a complete/incomplete element and does not have a grade.

    A Practice Assessment Document (PAD) will be completed over the course. Unit 4 is the end of Part 2 so students MUST have completed all sections of the PAD to achieve a PASS grade. This is a pass/fail assessment.

    End point assessment (Zero credit)

    Post completion of the course the nursing associate will complete the endpoint assessments as required by the Nursing Associate apprenticeship standards identified in doc AP0508/0.

    How to Apply

    This programme is advertised locally in partnership organisations and application is via their recruitment processes (i.e NHS jobs). The University does not currently recruit directly to the course.

    Entry Requirements agreed by partnership areas and the University

    • Employment within a partnership organisation who will support apprenticeship
    • GCSE grade C Math/English or Level 4 and above or equivalent
    • Functional Skills Level 2 Math/English
    • Key Skills Level 2 Communication (Literacy)/ Application of Number (Numeracy)
    • Evidence from NARIC of equivalent English/Maths (A*-C)

    Interview/Assessment Centre

    Recruitment, shortlisting and interviews will be organised by the employing partnership with support from the Division of Nursing and Midwifery and service users.

    Disclose and Barring Service (DBS)

    You will require to have a DBS enhanced (including children) within the last 3 years.

    Digital Learning Technologies

    Trainee nursing associate students are required to demonstrate the ability to use digital technology prior to commencing the TNA programme, so you will be given a link once appointed to a free digital learning and testing site where you will complete the ‘basic computer skills’ package and submit the certificate as evidence as directed by your employer or on your first day of learning at the university. This link is free to use and allows learning and practice of digital skills prior to taking the test. The test can be taken several times.

    Accreditation

    This programme is awaiting approval by the NMC and once full approval has been granted (expected within the next few weeks), this will lead to a foundation degree, Nursing Associate and permit entry onto the ‘end point assessment’ gateway. Entry into the gateway is permitted for all trainee nursing associates who have successfully completed all assessments and required hours of the foundation degree programme. Training for the ‘End Point Assessment’ takes place in this gateway supported by the employer. Once deemed ready, the trainee nursing associate is assessed by the ‘End Point Assessment Examiner’ who grades as either Pass or Fail – 2 attempts are allowed.

    Once the end point assessment is passed, application to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is made to become a registered Nursing Associate.

    Currently met by the Employer's Apprentice Levy

    Additional Costs

    Travel to university and alternative placement will not be met by the University. Please speak to your employer to about expenses.

    Employer organisations interested in the trainee nursing associate programme

    If you are an employer and you are interested in joining the partnership groups or having a trainee nursing associate in your clinical area please contact Velda Hulme, Velda.Hulme@hee.nhs.uk or Lindsay Butterworth, Lindsay.Butterworth@hee.nhs.uk from Health Education England who will provide you with more information.

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