It was great to hear directly from two newly qualified nursing associates (NAs) who talked us through their journey from application stage through to qualifying.
Interestingly, they had both started their careers in health care later in life after gaining valuable life experience in other roles. One NA had come into health care after having a family and another after a career in the armed forces.
The flexibility and choice that nursing offers as a career is something we know has long attracted mature students into the profession.
Health Education England estimates that 40% of NAs will go on to study to become registered nurses. And, indeed, one of the NAs speaking at the event told us he had already secured a place at university to study nursing, which is fantastic news.
The RCN has always been clear that the quickest and most cost effective way to grow the registered nurse workforce is through increasing the number of undergraduate nursing students in higher education.
The NMC’s commitment to evaluate the impact of NAs is a good thing too, and the RCN is going to support with this through our research partnership with the University of Sheffield.
But, three and a half years after it was first announced, the NA role is still not clearly defined by the NMC
– including the scope of the role to make sure nursing associates are not substitutes for registered nurses, working beyond their registration and potentially impacting on patient safety.
We already have skilled Assistant Practitioners (APs) in the support workforce, and the NMC need to think more widely about how they regulate, clarify and standardise support roles in future.
I look forward to meeting more NAs
as they enter the nursing workforce and I hope that many will choose to join the RCN – we’re here for you
as you take the first steps in an exciting new career.
Nursing Associates: new year, new role