Five years of nursing associates: their fantastic contributions to health and care

Published on 28 January 2024

Five years of nursing associates

Today (28 January 2024) marks five years since the first nursing associates joined the NMC register, creating a new role in nursing teams in England, and offering a different pathway for those wanting to become a registered nurse.

Since 2019, nursing associates have successfully bridged the gap between health and care assistants and registered nurses in England. They provide highly educated care and support for people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and beliefs, enabling registered nurses to focus their expertise where it’s most needed.

The role has helped widen access to a career in health and care for many people. Nursing associate education offers a foundation degree with apprenticeship options, alongside traditional study routes, for those who want to earn while they learn.

While a profession in its own right, it also provides a progression route into graduate level nursing for those who want to. There are now more than 10,000 skilled and knowledgeable nursing associates on our register, with nearly 1,500 more having become registered nurses.

To celebrate this five-year milestone, we asked nursing professionals, students, and educators to share their thoughts and reflections about the positive difference the role makes for people, and their advice to anyone considering becoming a nursing associate.

By sharing their stories on social media, we hope to highlight the positive impact nursing associates make to peoples’ health and care every day. Professionals and students can share their own positive stories and reflections on X (formally Twitter) and Instagram with @nmcnews using the hashtag #NAFiveYears.

Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“We’ve come such a long way since the first cohort of nursing associates joined our register five years ago. These professionals are now embedded as valued members of nursing teams across England.

“Their compassion and commitment are clear to see, working closely with their wider teams to support peoples’ care. Whether working in hospitals or in the community, or now practising as registered nurses, they make an invaluable contribution to the public’s health and wellbeing.

“On behalf of the NMC, I want to thank every nursing associate, talented student and nurse who followed the nursing associate route, for everything they do. You have so much to be proud of and today we celebrate you."

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said

“Since its introduction, the nursing associate role has made a huge contribution as part of the multi-disciplinary team and provides essential care and support to patients and their families.

“As well as being a vital profession in its own right, the nursing associate training pathway also plays an important role in career progression – recognising talent and offering opportunities to healthcare support workers to progress if they want to as well as providing a potential onward route from nursing associate to registered nurse.

“I welcome every opportunity to grow our professions as we continue to increase the number of nursing associates and open up the nursing profession to more people, I look forward to welcoming them to the NHS.”


Our animation, ‘What to expect from your nursing associate’, explains how these professionals are guided by our Code and standards to provide safe, effective and kind care.

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