Information for educators

Our role in education will be to set standards of proficiency for the new role and requirements of programmes leading to pre-registration nursing associate qualifications.

Our goal will be to make sure that the new profession is consistently educated to a high standard.

The Department of Health is changing our legislation to give us the power to regulate nursing associates – we expect this to happen in July 2018.

We can’t set standards of proficiency for nursing associates or approve programmes before our legislation changes but we anticipate that our Council will approve the proficiencies and programme standards in September 2018 and approvals can begin from October 2018.

Managing the registration of the first trainees

2,000 trainees started nursing associate programmes and a further 5,000 may start this year. Test sites have developed their training programmes based on the Health Education England (HEE) curriculum framework.

The first people to apply to the new nursing associate part of our register will have trained before we have approved nursing associate programmes. This means we will need to assess whether or not their qualification is comparable to an NMC-approved qualification.

There will be two groups who started training before we approved nursing associate programmes and who will be eligible to apply for registration as nursing associates.

Those are people who have successfully completed:

  • A nursing associate programme delivered by a HEE approved nursing associate test site; and/or
  • A nursing associate apprenticeship programme.

We are working with Health Education England to collect evidence that will allow us to make an assessment about the comparability of qualifications.

We have asked AEIs involved in test sites to assess their trainees against our standards of proficiency for nursing associates as part of our assurance. We will also expect AEIs to confirm that every student has benefited from the required programme hours and breadth of placement experiences.

If we cannot deem qualifications comparable to NMC approved qualifications, people who have successfully completed an HEE or early apprenticeship programme will still be able to apply to join the register, but they will need to take a test of competence.

Getting involved in nursing associate education and training

In October 2017 the Secretary of State announced that there will be a further 5,000 nursing associates training in 2018, and 7,500 in 2019.

The apprenticeship standards is available for use by any employer, but we would encourage people to contact HEE and to use an existing test site consortium, or establish a new one, under HEE’s oversight.

This will ensure that there is robust quality assurance of your programme which should mean a simpler route to registration for your students.

We’re likely to take a similar approach to those training as nursing associates in 2018 as we have for the first group of trainees, while in 2019 – subject to parliamentary time – we’ll be the regulator and can approve nursing associate programmes.

Nursing associate apprenticeships

The nursing associate apprenticeship standard, which has been approved and can be used,  can be funded by employers via the apprenticeship levy and offers a work-based training route. Although based on the HEE curriculum currently, when we become the regulator of nursing associates, the standard will be changed to reflect our standards and education requirements.

The standard requires NA apprenticeships to be delivered by an NMC-approved AEI for pre-registration nursing, pending regulation and the approval of nursing associate pre-registration qualifications.

Preparing for approvals

The government has proposed a six-month transition period from January 2019 until July 2019, after which nursing associate training programmes must be NMC-approved in order for students to be eligible for registration.

At the end of the transition period, from August 2019, people who start nursing associate programmes in England, will need to be studying via NMC-approved programmes in order to be eligible to apply to join the register.

You can read more about our plans for approvals and quality assurance once our programme standards have been agreed later in the year.