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Nursing associate

A new support role in patient care

Nursing associates

The nursing associate is a new support role in England that bridges the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses to deliver hands-on, person-centred care as part of the nursing team.

The role was introduced in response to the Shape of Caring Review (2015), to help build the capacity of the nursing workforce and the delivery of high-quality care. It will be a vital part of the wider health and care team and aims to:

  • support the career progression of healthcare assistants
  • enable nurses to focus on more complex clinical work
  • increase the supply of nurses by providing a progression route into graduate-level nursing.

Training and regulation

The nursing associate role is regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

To become a registered nursing associate, individuals must pass a foundation degree awarded by an NMC-approved provider, typically taken over two years. The programme prepares trainees to work with people of all ages and in a variety of settings in health and social care.

Trainee nursing associates can either earn while they learn as part of an apprenticeship programme, or go through a self-funded route. Currently, most nursing associate training programmes are being delivered through the apprenticeship route. However, a number of universities started offering self-funded programmes from September 2019. You can find a list of all approved programmes on the NMC website or visit UCAS to search for self-funded courses open to application.

To find out more about the role, or register your interest in training as a nursing associate, please visit the nursing associate website.

Case studies

Nursing associates in general practice

Hear from trainee nursing associates, nurses and a nurse consultant at Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group in Gateshead.


Nursing associates in mental health

Nikki Rushin, nursing associate and Theresa Jenkinson, ward manager at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust explain the benefits of the role.


For further case studies, please visit the nursing associate website.

Useful links

Nursing associates website

Health Careers website

Employers guide to nursing associates (NHS Employers)

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) resources

Information for nursing associates in social care (Skills for Care)