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Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship

The Open University (OU) has worked in partnership with healthcare employers for over 15 years, in order to deliver highly successful work-based pre-registration Nursing programmes, for Health Care Support Workers (HCSW’s) The Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship is delivered in collaboration with healthcare employers, in order to support and develop HCSW’s towards achieving registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as a Nursing Associate.

The Nursing Associate is a highly trained generic support role within the field of Nursing which acts as a ‘bridge’ between unregulated HCSW’s and Registered Nurses. Nursing Associates are not Nurses because Registered Nurses (RN’s) develop additional skills and knowledge within a specific field of Nursing. Nursing Associates work under the leadership and direction of RN’s to deliver care based on agreed plans. 

Nursing Associates will have the breadth of knowledge and a flexible, transferable skills set to serve the health needs of local communities, covering both the full life span and a range of care settings.  Nursing Associates need to be adaptable, reliable, and consistent, in addition they are required to demonstrate resilience, self-awareness and leadership skills.  

Key benefits

  • It provides a flexible and structured career pathway for developing valued HCSW’s
  • You invest in staff training and nurturing talent, in order to support the growth and efficiency of your organisation
  • Apprentices can immediately apply new learning into practice, for the positive benefit of service users
  • It maximises the use of your apprenticeship levy, embedding apprenticeships into workforce planning and service transformation

Entry requirements

The Open University has an inclusive approach to education so do not set any formal entry requirements, other than those set by the NMC and the Apprenticeships Standards, however employers are free to set their own additional criteria.

  • Applicants must demonstrate the ability to work at Level 2 English and Maths when applying to the programme or achieve these qualifications during Year 1 of the apprenticeship
  • A satisfactory criminal disclosure check (DBS or equivalent)
  • Occupational Health clearance
  • Throughout the recruitment process, applicants must demonstrate having the values and behaviours required for the Nursing Associate apprenticeship
  • Apprentices must meet the Care Certificate Standards in Year 1 of the programme, if they have not already done so 

Course information

With a focus on holistic person-centred care, Nursing Associate Higher Apprentices develop and demonstrate effective interpersonal skills which meet service users’ needs and rights, to be treated with dignity and privacy in a compassionate and caring manner. Based on the Standards of Proficiency for Nursing Associates (NMC 2018) apprentices study the theory and practice of;

  • Being an accountable professional
  • Promoting health and preventing ill health
  • Providing and monitoring care
  • Working in teams
  • Improving safety and quality of care
  • Contributing to integrated care

Practice learning takes place across a range of client and age groups and in different health and care settings within hospitals, the community and people’s homes. The apprentice’s work place is the core setting for protected practice learning and they must undertake at least 460 supernumerary hours in external practice placements within other care settings. It is also a requirement that at least 20% of an apprentice’s working week, is dedicated to off the job academic study.

Learning is delivered flexibly around the demands of the work place and requires minimal time away from the workplace, using our tutor-supported, rich media online delivery methods. Learning is accessible 24/7 and can be delivered simultaneously to various locations using tried and tested educational technology.

What support will you receive?

The Open University provides a range of support to employers in the form of:

  • Practice Tutor – Helps to integrate learning into the workplace and support the delivery of the practice based learning modules throughout the programme. They meet with the apprentice and their practice assessor/supervisor at least three times per practice placement module.     
  • Academic Tutor – Facilitates learning for the theory modules throughout the programme providing personalised tuition, delivering online tutorials, marking assignments and giving extensive feedback on academic work, in order to develop the apprentice’s academic writing skills.
  • Nursing Staff Tutor/Education Manager – Supports employers to deliver the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship, in order to meet organisational needs and the quality assurance requirements set by the NMC for practice learning
  • Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager – Supports employers to deliver their apprenticeship programmes and manages the apprentice journey from start to completion. They also provide employers with regular apprentice progress data.

​Why choose The Open University’s Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship?

  • Our programme enhances the delivery of safe, effective and compassionate care, through developing evidence based healthcare practitioners
  • Our experience in supporting learners whatever their prior attainment, means you can develop apprentices from all backgrounds, with us helping them to develop study skills
  • Tutor-supported online learning is delivered flexibly, enabling apprentices to balance study with personal commitments and minimising time away from the workplace
  • Online content and forums are available 24/7 to support high quality education and learning regardless of location

Course Summary


2 years, 4 months (approximately)

Qualifications achieved

  • Foundation Degree in Nursing Associate Practice
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Further information

For a more detailed look at our Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship, download our brochure.

Download brochure