The University of Derby has launched one of the country’s first pre-registration degree programmes for nursing associates that will move away from the traditional apprenticeship route.
“This role is so vital for the future of our profession- it offers many the opportunity to enter into nursing who never had the chance before”
Under the new two-year “direct entry” course, students will study the same content and meet the same number of practice hours as their apprentice counterparts but will be granted full supernumerary status for their programme and practice learning experiences.
Current Nursing and Midwifery Council guidance states that, unlike for student nurses and midwives, organisations can choose whether to include nursing associate students in their safe staffing quota.
Head of pre-qualification healthcare at the university, David Robertshaw, said the move comes in an attempt to widen participation and access to health and social care programmes, and to help meet national targets for nursing associates.
“Nationally there are number targets for the role, and we need to work together as integrated systems to achieve these,” he said.
“We don’t think these targets can be met by apprenticeship trainee nursing associates alone, so this is one of the reasons we’ve decided to start a non-apprenticeship pre-registration programme which is a bit more like a student nurse programme in the way it is taught and organised,” he noted.
“We don’t think a non-apprenticeship ‘direct entry’ programme is better necessarily than the apprenticeship version, just different,” he added.
Nursing associates that complete the new programme will then be able to proceed directly into the nursing programme at the half-way point.
Mr Robertshaw said this offered a faster and cheaper route to qualification as a nurse than completing, for example, a foundation year.
While the content for this new course will be the same as the traditional apprenticeship route, the way they are arranged will be slightly different, he said.
David Robertshaw at University of Derby
“Whereas apprentice trainee nursing associates attend the university in blocks, and work for the remainder of their hours with protected learning time and in external placements, these ‘direct entry’ trainee nursing associates will attend the university in blocks and go on placement in blocks,” said Mr Robertshaw.
He said: “They study exactly the same content, and meet exactly the same number of practice hours, just arranged slightly differently.
“These direct entry students will be fully supernumerary for their programme and practice learning experiences,” he added.
Students who wish to go down the direct entry route will be subject to tuition fees of £9,250 and will be required to have a level 2 qualification in English, a level 3 qualification in maths and 64-80 UCAS points.
Applicants must also undertake a criminal background check and meet any occupational health standards.
Mr Robertshaw said that the university was “really excited to contribute to the ongoing development” of the role of the nursing associate.
“This role is so vital for the future of our profession- it offers many the opportunity to enter into nursing who never had the chance before,” he said.
The news comes as the university celebrates is first wave of nursing associates who completed their programmes earlier this year who graduate this week.
According to Mr Robertshaw, it had the largest single-university group of trainee nursing associates in its first wave.