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NMC prepares to welcome first nursing associates in January 2019

Today we're outlining final proposals for the regulation of nursing associates, including the skills and knowledge students will need in order to qualify.

The nursing associate role will bridge the gap between registered nurses and healthcare assistants. It will also provide a pathway to becoming a registered nurse for those nursing associates who want to further their career.

The new standards for the role have been published alongside the wider approach to the regulation of nursing associates. Our governing Council will be asked to approve the proposals at its meeting on 26 September.

Geraldine Walters, Director of Education and Standards at the NMC said:

“It’s clear from what we’ve seen and heard that trainee nursing associates are appreciated by those they’re caring for, and that the nurses they are working alongside recognise the potential of the role now and in the future.

“We know just how important it is that students who are training ‘on the job’ have time away from their everyday duties to learn. We’re confident that the plans we’ve outlined today will not only support students to learn and keep patients safe but also work for employers too.

“We look forward to seeing the first qualified nursing associates caring for people across England from January next year.”

The main way for a nursing associate to train will be through work based learning - an apprenticeship. So the we have worked closely with employers and educators to develop a new approach to ensuring appropriate learning time for students. This will give education providers and their practice placement partners more flexibility to decide how students will get the protected learning time they need.

One option could be the traditional ‘supernumerary’ model – where students are additional to the minimum number of staff required for safety.

While under the new option, nursing associate students would be included in the numbers required for safety but their employers must show us how they will protect a certain amount of time for them to learn. This might be by giving them time away from their usual duties or showing that they have supervision when developing new skills.

Under both options, students would be supervised and must receive the same amount of protected learning time.

As part of our plans, we have also set out how the existing Code - with a new introduction and some minor changes - will apply to nursing associates as well as nurses and midwives, ensuring that the same high standards of professional behaviour and conduct will apply to everyone on its register.

While the proposed fees that nursing associates will be expected to pay have also been set out and will bring nursing associates broadly into line with nurses and midwives.

Details of the proposals can be found on our website.

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