Becoming a nursing associate

The nursing associate role is intended to be an important role in its own right, and to act as a route for those who want to progress to become a registered nurse.

We consulted  on the standards of proficiency for nursing associates and the nursing associate education programme standards.

We are now analysing the responses that we have received and will be finalising our standards and approach to regulating nursing associates for approval by our Council in September 2018. We expect to publish the finalised standards in October 2018.  

We proposed in the consultation that nursing associate programmes will be foundation degrees, which are typically two years of higher level study.

Health Education England (HEE) is overseeing the current test sites, and if you’re currently employed as a health or care professional you can express your interest in becoming a nursing associate to your employer and seek their advice on options available to you.

The consortia piloting nursing associate education and training include partners from across the range of NHS providers, and also from independent providers and social care.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced in October 2017 there will be a further 5000 nursing associate places in 2018, and 7500 in 2019.

HEE is continuing to oversee recruitment to the 2018 places: existing consortia are taking on further cohorts and in some parts of the country, new consortia are being formed.

Students who started programmes prior to NMC regulation

There are 35 test sites currently training the first cohort of 2,000 nursing associates.
These students are training as nursing associates (against HEE’s curriculum framework) before we’ve set standards of education and approved education programmes.

When the register opens in January 2019 we want all those students who have completed their training and successfully gained a qualification to be able to apply to join the nursing associate part of our register.

We will be assessing whether these early nursing associate qualifications can be deemed comparable to qualifications we approve.

If we can, people who have achieved a qualification can apply to join the register, meeting our wider registration requirements. If we cannot deem qualifications comparable, people can still apply to join the register, but they may need to complete a test of competence in order to do so.

All students, regardless of when they started their training will be assessed against our standards of proficiency for nursing associates.

Applicants outside England

Nursing associate is an England-only role at the moment because there are no plans to use the role in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As a result, changes to our legislation mean that we can only approve nursing associate education programmes in England. We will be able to start approving education programmes once our standards have been published in October 2018.

When our new nursing associate part of the register opens in January 2019 it will also open to applicants from outside England.

If you have undertaken education and training in other parts of the UK that you think is relevant to the role of the nursing associate, you will be able to:

  • Apply for a pre-registration nursing associate programme in England and seek recognition of your prior learning; or
  • Apply to join the register through our process for applicants from the devolved administrations (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

More information for applicants to the nursing associate part of the register from outside England will be available in due course.

Progression to nursing qualifications

The government wants to see nursing associate qualifications help people with the desire and ability to progress to degree level nursing programmes.

We are designing our standards in a way that makes it easy for education providers to develop programmes that will build on nursing associate proficiencies. These programmes will need to enable students to develop a specialty in a field of nursing.