How to Becoming a Nursing Associate in the UK

Nursing Associate: A Comprehensive Guide

The nursing associate role is a relatively new addition to the nursing team, designed to work alongside healthcare support workers and registered nurses to provide care for patients and the public. It also serves as a stepping stone for those aspiring to become registered nurses.

Working Life

Nursing associates are active across all four fields of nursing: adult, children’s, mental health, and learning disability. Your specific skills and responsibilities will vary depending on the care setting you work in. As a nursing associate, you must exemplify the values and behaviors outlined in the NHS Constitution.

Nursing Associate in the UK

Your duties may encompass a range of tasks, including performing clinical procedures like venepuncture and ECGs, offering support to individuals, families, and carers during challenging situations such as life-changing diagnoses, recording clinical observations like blood pressure and temperature, and effectively communicating patients’ conditions to registered nurses. Moreover, ensuring the privacy, dignity, and safety of individuals is always a priority, and you must be vigilant about identifying and addressing issues related to safeguarding vulnerable children and adults.

Your Training

To become a nursing associate, you will engage in academic learning one day a week while undertaking work-based learning for the rest of the week. You’ll be employed in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital, care home, or hospice, and gain valuable experience in various other healthcare environments. This might require you to travel to different placements and work a mix of shifts.

As part of your training, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of nursing and caring for individuals with conditions like dementia, mental health issues, and learning disabilities or difficulties.

Career Development

Upon completing your training, you’ll possess the knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, and behaviors required to work as a qualified nursing associate. Furthermore, nursing associates have the opportunity to further their career by becoming a registered nurse. By leveraging their training, they can embark on a shortened nursing degree or a registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA).

Nursing associate training may shorten the duration of a registered nurse degree apprenticeship to just two years. For more information on the apprenticeship route and application process, you should consult your line manager, education team, or apprenticeship lead. Some employers may require you to work as a nursing associate for a year before transitioning to registered nurse training.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is responsible for registering and regulating nursing associates. To work as a nursing associate, you must be registered with the NMC.

Return to Practice

If you were previously a registered nursing associate but are no longer registered, returning to practice is a straightforward process. There are several paths you can take, including readmission, the test of competence, or a return to practice course.

Readmission: Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to re-register with the NMC without undergoing a course or test. You should contact the NMC to inquire about the readmission process.

Test of Competence: This test consists of two parts – a multiple-choice computer-based test (CBT) and a practical examination known as the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Preparation materials and essential reading for the test are available on the NMC website.

Return to Practice Course: This course will refresh your skills and prepare you to resume your role as a nursing associate with confidence. It combines classroom-based learning with placement experience.

Pay and Benefits


As a trainee nursing associate, you can expect to work around 37.5 hours per week, which may include various shifts like nights, early starts, evenings, and weekends. During your training period, your pay will typically fall under band 3 of the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system. Once qualified, nursing associates are usually employed on band 4.

Read more – Comprehensive Guide to Nurses’ Salaries and Benefits in the UK.

Alongside a competitive salary, nursing associates enjoy attractive benefits, including a generous pension scheme, health service discounts, and 27 days of annual leave, which increases with years of service.

Nursing related roles:

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