Nursing Associate Job Profile: What to Expect
Nursing associates work with healthcare support workers and registered nurses in England, to deliver quality and personalised nursing services to patients and the public. They work with people of all ages across a variety of health and social care settings. The role was introduced in December 2015 by the government to boost the capacity of the nursing workforce and improve healthcare. It frees up registered nurses to focus on complex clinical duties and take lead in making decisions about patient care. In this article, we provide a job profile or the nursing associate role.
Nursing associate responsibilities
Nursing associates handle various responsibilities in nursing and health and social care settings. The responsibilities depend on the needs of the health care unit they are assigned to. Some responsibilities you are likely to handle as a nursing associate include:
Perform clinical observations like monitoring blood pressure, glucose levels, pulse, temperature, and respiratory activity and recording them
Support and encourage patients and their families facing serious illnesses or life-changing diagnoses
Share and discuss patients' condition, activity, medical responses and behaviour with registered nurses
Undertake basic clinical tasks such as venipuncture and ECGs
Assist registered nurses with various caregiving tasks
Identify patients with failing health and prioritise their emergency care
Ensure confidentiality of individuals' information and their safety and dignity at all times
Identify vulnerable and abused adults and children and institute protection measures for them
Administer rapid first aid measures that include basic life support during emergencies
Identify signs of emotional and psychological distress among vulnerable individuals
Collect and test samples of stool, vomit, urine, sputum and interpret and report their results
Identify signs of self-harm and suicidal tendencies in people and take measures to stop them
Carry out and break down neurological observations on the central nervous system
Carry out basic mental health first aid to enable them to spot depression and anxiety with patients
Offer lifestyle and dietary advice
Monitor and care for healing wounds
Nursing associate attributes
To be a successful nursing associate you require the following attributes:
Communications skills: These skills help you to address and receive patients and individuals' feedback and respond to them amicably.
Emotional stability: This helps you to cope with traumatic or stressful situations that happen when working with patients.
Empathy: Having empathy as a nursing associate will help you comfort patients and individuals you interact with despite their conditions.
Flexibility: A nursing associate needs to be flexible to work at unsociable hours and handle different responsibilities assigned to them.
Attention to detail: A nursing associate needs to be alert and pay attention to details since healthcare matters are sensitive.
Interpersonal skills: To earn the trust of patients and individuals an associate nurse needs to be friendly and approachable.
Physical endurance: A nursing associate needs to be physically fit and healthy to be able to handle the rigours of the job.
Problem-solving skills: A nursing associate needs to have the ability to think quickly under pressure to address urgent situations that arise when dealing with patients or individuals.
Courtesy: Nursing associates need to respect patients and individuals they engage with and handle their affairs with dignity.
Team-oriented: Nursing associates work with different professionals which requires them to be collaborative to work with teams.
Related: What Are Communication Skills?
Nursing associate education requirements
To study to be a nursing associate, you require GCSEs grade 9 to 4, with A to C in mathematics and English or level 2 functional skills in mathematics and English. Some employers may require level 3 qualification. The qualifications enable you to enrol for a two-year nursing associate apprenticeship, a foundational degree, awarded by a nursing and midwifery council (NMC) accredited institution. You can also earn while learning to be a nursing associate through apprenticeship programs.
The foundational degree has academic and work-based learning and trainees have to complete 2300 hours to be nursing associates. In that time, they learn how to work with people of all ages in different health and social care settings. As a trainee, you study for one day of the week and the other days are for work-based learning. Through work-based learning, you understand how to nurse and care for individuals with conditions like dementia, mental illness and learning disabilities.
The government prefers potential nursing associates to apprentice which can help them pay their way through the course instead of taking loans to pay for their education. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) offers apprenticeship funding to cover costs incurred by nursing associates during clinical placements.
After attaining the relevant qualifications and meeting the NMC standards of proficiency you can apply to join the NMC as a member and get the accreditation needed to be hired. Below are the competencies a nursing associate needs to have to be registered by NMC:
Understand and implement the principles and aims of health protection, promotion, improvement and ill health prevention when working with people
Advocate for preventative health behaviours and disseminate information that helps people make informed decisions to enhance their physical, psychological and behavioural wellness and health
Ability to explain the principles of demography, genomics, epidemiology and how they impact health and wellness results
Have an understanding of the causes of inequalities in health outcomes
Possess knowledge of how early childhood years and experiences can impact life choices, psychological and behavioural health and wellness
Ability to comprehend and discuss how social influences, individual situations, health literacy and lifestyle choices and behaviours, affect psychological, physical and behavioural health results
Ability to explain the importance of health screening to people and identify those eligible for screening
Advocate for health by preventing ill-health through an understanding of scientific evidence for herd immunity, immunisation and vaccination
Protect health by comprehending and implementing infection, prevention and control which include, infectious disease surveillance and antimicrobial stewardship and resistance
Every three years of practice, nursing associates, like nurses and midwives, have to go through a revalidation process administered by NMC. Revalidation ensures nursing associates adhere to good healthcare practices in their profession and strengthens public confidence in them. There is a fee to the NMC for revalidation, but this is often covered by your employer.
Nursing associates can work in healthcare settings that include care homes, rehabilitation centres, hospices and mental health hospitals. A nursing associate's typical working week has about 37.5 hours. The working hours include nights, evenings, early mornings and weekend shifts while working in different health care settings. In England, trainee nursing associates are classified into the band 3 job category and earn between £19,737 to £21,142 annually. Qualified nursing associates in the band 4 category earn an average salary of £26,118. Nursing associates vacancies are usually posted on the national health service (NHS) website.
A nursing associate is entitled to pension and health service discounts. Annually they get 27 days of annual leave and bank holidays that increase the longer you work. The other benefits include:
Job prospects for nursing associates are high due to prevailing nursing shortages in England.
Nursing associates handle many roles in various healthcare settings, as a result, they accumulate diverse healthcare skills.
Nursing associates can have rapid career growth if they upgrade their skills, such as by studying to become a fully qualified nurse.
Nursing associates can train to be registered nurse by doing a shortened nursing degree or nursing degree apprenticeship. Being a nursing associate can cut two years of your registered nurse degree apprenticeship.