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HCAs and APs

HCAs and APs

Health care assistants and assistant practitioners are hugely valued members of the nursing workforce.

Health care assistants (HCAs) and assistant practitioners (APs) are hugely valued members of the RCN and the nursing team. Although there are a wide range of titles used to describe these roles, we have chosen to encompass all of these under the titles HCA and AP.

The RCN is the ‘go to’ organisation for all members of the nursing team. We understand your needs better than anyone else, whether you aspire to develop your career or remain in your support role and be the best you can be in that role. We’re here every step of the way.

Nursing Associates

Nursing associates are a new support role introduced to the health care workforce.

Nursing associates will work alongside health care assistants, assistant practitioners and graduate registered nurses in training for two years, and attend universities and further education colleges part-time.

1,000 trainee nursing associates will begin their training in January 2017 at sites around England. A further 1,000 will begin training in April 2017.

Find out more about nursing associates.

The RCN responded to Health Education England’s (HEE) consultation on the nursing associate role. More than 7,500 members responded to the RCN’s survey, helping to inform its response.

Read the RCN's consultation response.


First Steps

First Steps is the RCN’s most popular free e-learning tool for health care assistants. It’s a perfect resource to dip in and out of, whether you’re new to the post or looking to refresh your knowledge and skills.

Get started

Health+Care spring 2016 cover
23 Mar 2016

RCN Health+Care: Spring 2016 (Current Issue)

This issue includes features on the history of HCAs in the RCN, nutrition and hydration, mental health, and plans for a new nursing support role.


RCN membership

If you provide health or social care under the guidance and supervision of a registered nurse, midwife or health visitor and are not on a professional register you could be eligible to join the RCN.

Join the RCN