What is a Nursing Associate Apprenticeship and why is it important?

  • 5 January 2022

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Arthur Rank Hospice Charity are proud to support two trainees who are currently working towards qualifying as Nursing Associates.

Kate Barry and Sam Barclay started their two year Apprenticeship roles at the beginning of September 2021 and are learning on-the-job, as they work on the Inpatient Unit at our Shelford based Hospice. We caught up with them to find out how they were getting on.

What can you tell us about your new role?

Kate – My new role is Trainee Nursing Associate. This consists of two years University study as well as on the job learning to cover all Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Nursing Associate proficiencies. Our on-the-job learning will take place at the Hospice and on external placements in other hospitals. Once this course is complete, we will have gained a foundation Degree approved by the (NMC).

Sam – The Nursing Associate role is a new scheme to bridge the gap between Nurses and Healthcare Assistants. When qualified I will be registered with the NMC. On the Inpatient Unit (IPU) I will be able to give medications and follow care plans and will have received further training for skills needed on the Unit, that are not covered in the course.

How does this role differ from your previous role?

Kate – This role differs from our previous roles as Healthcare Assistants in a few ways. We will be more accountable on IPU, with more responsibilities to make direct decisions. As a Nursing Associate we will be more involved in the medical care of our patients and have more direct responsibility. Having Nursing Associates on the IPU supports the Registered Nurses, freeing them up to focus on more complex clinical work. We will be qualified to administer medications to patients and able to carry out procedures such as venepuncture, cannulation, wound care, NG feeds…. and practice many more skills that we will gain along the way.

Sam -This is a step up with regards to my academic understanding of care, but also an increase in responsibility for the care and safety of our patients.

What do you enjoy about the role?

Kate – This role is still very new to me and the Hospice, so we are learning along the way together. It’s great to be gaining new skills and knowledge that I can bring to the IPU from other organisation. My work will be more varied and challenging from now on I’m sure!

Sam – I’m enjoying the challenge of learning new things about anatomy and pharmacology. I’m currently on placement at Papworth Hospital and have been able to see surgeries such as a double lung transplant and two open-heart surgeries. I’m learning new things on every shift and am challenging myself to further my skills and understanding.

What do the extra studies entail?

Kate – We are now part time students at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge studying towards our foundation degree. We attend University two full days a week.

Sam – Our two days a week at University include online lectures, face to face skills sessions on campus and online group work,  along with pre and post learning. I’m also writing an academic reflective essay on my days off which is a challenge as I last wrote an essay over 15 years ago!

What motivated you to this role?

Kate – I have worked in care since I was 17 years old. This is my passion to care for others and make a real difference to patients at any stage of their life. Along the way in my own life I have had care from nurses that have made a real difference to me with their kindness and compassion and I want to be the person that makes a difference. I was motivated to apply for the position when it was advertised as it opened up an opportunity for me to progress in my career gaining knowledge and new skills along the way.

Sam – I gained my Care Certificate through working on the IPU at the Hospice and this gave me the hunger to be able to continue to improve the holistic patient care that I give our service users and their loved ones. This apprenticeship was the perfect opportunity to challenge myself and gain the skills and knowledge needed to provide this improved care.

Was there anything that surprised you about the role?

Kate – It wasn’t much of a surprise as I had read up on the course, but the academic workload has been a bit of a shock after being out of education for 21 years!!

Sam – The first few weeks were manic with lots of different computer systems to use for University. This felt overwhelming at times but I now feel more like I am in the swing of things.

How do your colleagues/line manger support you?

Kate – My Line Manager has been very supportive along the way, as I said before we are all new to this new role within the Hospice and are learning together along the way, making sure we have regular meetings and catch ups when we can. From the end of January we will be on placement here at the Hospice so we will be seen more in our grey University uniform. I feel we can educate the whole team on Nursing Associates roles and responsibilities so we are all clear on the same facts.

Sam – I meet regularly with the IPU Ward Manager, Jenny Oakes and the Matron of Clinical Services, Carly Love to discuss any issues and to find solutions. I’m also seeing the Head of Education and Practice Development, Kay Hardwick as my mentor from outside the IPU which has been invaluable for discussing these issues as well.

Anything else you would like to add?

Sam – It’s quite a shock to the system starting this course but I know this is what I’m meant to be doing, to improve my skills and knowledge to ultimately provide better holistic care for our patients and their loved ones.

Kate Barry, Nursing Associate Trainee outside Arthur Rank Hospice Charity

Kate Barry, Nursing Associate Trainee

We know you will join us in wishing both Sam and Kate the best of luck along their journey and we look forward to updating you on their progress, later in the year.

If you would like to find out more about working for Arthur Rank Hospice Charity please see our vacancies page or read more about other members of the team here: arhc.org.uk/about-us/meet-our-team/