Information for employers

Nursing associates in practice

While we’ll develop standards that set out what nursing associates need to know and be able to do in order to join our register, employers will decide how nursing associates are used in their own health and care settings.

Nurse leaders in England have been clear that the intention is for nursing associates to support and not substitute for nurses. Having more highly educated and skilled support staff should enable better use to be made of graduate nurse resources.

Protected title ‘nursing associate’

The Department for Health and Social Care’s consultation included plans to protect the title ‘nursing associate’. Once the register opens in January 2019, it’ll be an offence in England to practise  as a nursing associate without being registered as one with the NMC, or falsely to claim to be qualified or registered.

Employers are strongly advised not to recruit people to ‘nursing associate’ posts who will not be able to practise as nursing associates once the title is protected, or to advertise posts as ‘nursing associate’ posts if they are not going to be filled by qualified and registered nursing associates.

Employing nursing associates

You’ll be able to employ nursing associates from January 2019 when the first cohort of students qualify and join our register. Nursing associates will be subject to the full suite of regulation, in broadly the same way we regulate nurses and midwives. This includes adhering to the Code, completing revalidation and being subject to fitness to practise processes.

We’ll also open the register to applicants from outside England.

Organisations with responsibility for workforce and safe staffing will be developing tools and resources to support you in implementing the new role. We’ll provide links to these when they’re available. In the meantime you may find it helpful to speak to those involved in the test sites via your professional networks.

Nursing associate apprenticeships

The nursing associate apprenticeship standard has been approved and is now available for use. This is funded by employers via the apprenticeship levy and offers a work-based training route. It’s based on the Health Education England's (HEE) Curriculum Framework but when we publish our standards for nursing associates (in October 2018), the apprenticeship standard will be updated to refer to our standards.

The nursing associate apprentice standard requires nursing associate apprenticeships to be delivered by an NMC-approved approved education institution (AEI) for pre-registration nursing.

There’s nothing to prevent employers taking the standard and using it, but we do encourage you to join an existing consortium, or establish a new consortium, under HEE’s oversight. 

Find out more information about nursing associate test sites on the Health Education England website.

Employers involved in current test sites

If you’re an employer involved in a current test site, your students may soon be graduating and applying to register with us.

We must assess the comparability of the qualification of every pre-regulation student’s application to join the register. If their qualification is deemed comparable, they can apply to register as if they have an NMC-approved qualification.

If we cannot deem their qualification comparable, the student will have the right to sit a test of competence in order to be eligible to register.

Find out more about how we will assess the comparability of qualification.