This apprenticeship gives you the knowledge, skills and attributes and will support you to become a compassionate, competent, confident and responsible nursing associate.

This apprenticeship is designed in partnership with local employers to meet the needs of the future nursing associate workforce as detailed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. It also allows onward progression for nursing associates into degree level nursing programmes and recognises the new professional role in nursing.

It will equip those working in a non-registered capacity, in the health and care sector, with the knowledge, skills and attributes to become a nursing associate and promotes reflection and reflexivity, independence and a critical awareness of your role boundaries. This will allow you to identify goals, engage in self-directed learning and achieve competence in the provision of holistic, safe, effective evidence-based care within the parameters of your practice.

What the apprenticeship covers

Nursing associates contribute to the promotion of health, health protection and the prevention of ill health. They do this by empowering people and communities to exercise choice, take control of their own health decisions and behaviours and by supporting people to manage their own care where possible. In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with a variety of service users, families and carers, and with an extensive range of health and care professionals and other agencies including social services, police, probation, prisons, housing, education, language interpreters and third sector agencies. They might be working in a health, social care or public health provider and may work various shift patterns which enable care to be provided 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days of the year. This is a new role and it is expected that nursing associates will become a key part of the team to meet the integrated health and care needs of patients and service users.

Nursing associates must be emotionally intelligent and resilient individuals, able to manage their own personal health and well-being, recognise boundaries of their practice and know when and how to access support.

What will I study?

The programme is undertaken over two years and will be divided equally between time spent in university studying a variety of different modules and time in a range of practice experience facilities including a fully equipped Simulation Suite and healthcare settings, including existing workplace if undertaking this as the apprenticeship.

The programme consists of a series of theory and practice modules designed to enable you to acquire the appropriate knowledge and skills to practise in a person-centred way. You will study nursing skills and knowledge, communication skills, professional issues, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, health and health promotion. Your modules use a problem-based learning approach and you will be introduced to a number of service user-based enigmas that will support your understanding by the integration of theory and practice. You will also follow some of these enigmas into our simulation suites where you will be able to develop, enhance and embed practical application so being able to develop confidence and competence in a safe environment. Your concluding module focuses on you becoming a registered professional through the consideration of leadership, management and the development of others within the unregistered workforce.

The programme is delivered in three fifteen-week blocks (trimesters) of study each year and consists of two elements; a university-based day which is fixed and placement application (duration is dependent on the pathway you are appointed to).

To deliver compassionate competent holistic care, Nursing Associate’s need an awareness of what a patient of any age may experience on their journey through health and care. It is an NMC requirement that each student has placement experiences in the following settings:

  • At home: e.g. community health team, nursing home, prison, specialist nurse
  • Close to home: e.g. community hospital, step down care, health clinic, hospice
  • Not at home: e.g. emergency departments, acute hospital wards, diagnostic departments

All about the course

We continually review and where appropriate, revise the range of modules on offer to reflect changes in the subject and ensure the best student experience. We will inform applicants of any changes to the course structure before enrolment.

Nursing Associate Practice 1 (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to equip the you with the theoretical knowledge, practical skills and attitudes and behaviours required to perform fundamental clinical cores skills as a Nursing Associate in a range of settings.

Wellbeing Across the Lifespan (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to develop knowledge and understanding of the factors that influence health and wellbeing across the lifespan including end of life.

Clinical Supervision 1 (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to equip you with the necessary skills to be a lifelong learner and to develop in to a reflective practitioner through the participation of group supervision.

Professionalism, Relationships and Fundamental Skills (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to recognise your role as a partner in care and how this can be adapted to the care context through the exploration of core communication skills, professional code of practice and interprofessional person centred care

Compassionate Conversations (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to develop an understanding of common mental health conditions and detection of these when co-existing with physical health conditions. To develop the ability to facilitate caring conversations with those experiencing emotional distress.

How you'll learn

Learning, teaching and assessment is heavily orientated towards work-based learning where knowledge gained is applied your role in the workplace and reflection and evaluation further enhances practice.

The emphasis of the teaching throughout the programme is centred on the programme’s aim to support you to become a compassionate, competent, confident and responsible practitioner who is able to deliver a wide range of clinical, care and inter-personal skills underpinned by a systematic knowledge base’ (HEE, 2016). The programme aims to equip Nursing Associates with the knowledge and skills; and behaviours and attitudes to work across the fields of nursing, across the lifespan and in a full range of settings across health and care. The Nursing Associate will have the skills and knowledge to monitor and review the care they deliver, identify when the care plan needs amendment, and refer back to the nurse when necessary (NMC, 2018).

A blend of face-to-face and online activities has been purposively chosen to meet the modules learning outcomes and to provide a connectedness between university and work-based learning. For example, core information may be provided via narrated PowerPoint presentations, suggested readings and learning activities while learning at university will encompass action learning sets, formative peer-feedback and student-centric activities which fuse theoretical and practical knowledge. The number of face-to-face days for academic direction will normally be five per 20 credit module and in general academic direction will incorporate face-to-face, directed and on-line activities. Importantly face-to-face facilitates active learning and enhanced engagement in work-based learning as you value and accredit the knowledge and skills which have been learnt through the medium of work. This allows you to demonstrate knowledge and skill development relevant to your work and enables you to enhance practice and consider new ways of working.

Self-directed learning is a significant aspect of all modules and an important process to enhance and supplement learning. You are encouraged to undertake up to 10.5 hours of self directed learning within your work place a week to integrate your theory and build upon your practical proficiencies.

You are encouraged to reflect on the classroom teaching and carry out structured activities to reinforce, consolidate and revise learning. Self-directed learning is less structured and encourages autonomy and independent learning and can be enhanced by the use of the e-library where you will have access to online journals and books.

To build on the interprofessional skills, problem-solving will be a consistent feature. The use of service-user case studies and scenarios will test understanding of the topic and elicit appropriate judgements, behaviours and actions. This approach will also contribute to your journey to self-regulative practitioner able to contextualise learning to the context of care delivery.


During your time on the Foundation Degree you will be expected to complete a variety of different assessments. Assessment is an essential element of this programme and is embedded within each module to demonstrate the integration of both theory and practice throughout the programme.

Each module has formative (developmental) activities that will support and prepare you for your summative (formal - used to evaluate the learning, skill acquisition and academic achievement) assessments and these are either graded or pass/fail.

Formative Activities will consist of group discussion and feedback sessions, draft assignment plans, feedback via simulated practice learning sessions, mock and practice safe medicate assessments, as well as every six weeks triennial reviews within your place of work.

Professional accreditation

Following successful completion of your Foundation Degree you will be equipped to complete your apprenticeship. This involves your employer nominating you to undertake an end point assessment (currently 2 professional discussions with a panel) before you can register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

More information

Full information on the apprenticeship standard 

Find out more about apprenticeships

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Associated partners

The Graham Care Group
The Huntercombe Group
Medway Council
Pilgrims Hospices
The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust
Strode Park Foundation