By Paul Thompson
So, in mid-January 2020 I sat in the staff room of the nursing/residential home in which I work. On the table there was an advert for a new job opportunity, Apprentice Trainee Nurse Associate. I gave it a quick glance and looked at the job description. The word that initially jumped out at me was ‘apprentice’, how could I, at the age of 45, married with 2 young kids, out of any sort of formal education for 25 years be considered as an apprentice, let alone attend university and get a foundation degree. Later, and over the next couple of days I pondered of the advert. I took my role as a carer very seriously, always looking for new knowledge to make me better and more competent in my role, and I was always very inquisitive of the on-duty nurse. I spoke to my line manager about the role and she said that in her opinion I would be an ideal candidate.
So, I researched the role asking What is an apprentice trainee nursing associate?
On the internet (especially NMC) I found some good resources and information about the role, the training, and what would be expected of me throughout the learning process. It became very clear, very quickly, that the role of the Nursing Associate is still relatively new and because of this it is not fully understood how the role is best placed by those in the health and social care sector. This was the first time my organisation had offered the opportunity for an apprenticeship university course and as such the successful candidates would be a pilot and ambassador, influencing the future program offer. No pressure then!
I applied for the role within my organisation and was one of the two successful candidates selected to attend the university interview. When this day came, I was nervous, stressed and quite unsure about how the day would progress, I had not done anything like this for such a long time. I was notified a short time later that I had been accepted onto the program.
What does the role of nursing associate mean to me?
Working as a care assistant in a residential/nursing home, how can I, and my organisation benefit from me obtaining this qualification and becoming registered with the NMC. For me personally the opportunity to learn and develop a vast range of skills across a broad range of nursing areas was exciting. To have the chance to undertake placements in different fields was and still is a challenge that I relish and look forward to. To be able to do this in a way that I can continue to work full time and continue to fulfil my family commitments is something I thought I would never be able to do. In work I can bring my newfound skills and knowledge to the care team I work with, building on and enhancing the care given to my residents. I can and will be able to look at things differently and come up with, through discussion and reflection, new ways of working and provide a different perspective that maybe needed in different situations. Being registered with NMC will give me the regulatory framework and backup needed to remain focused and committed in the role. For my organisation, as a qualified nursing associate I will be able to assist our on-duty nurses and be delegated tasks that will undoubtedly free up more of their time to focus on more complex situations. The nurses are busy, work long hours, and I am sure they will appreciate the fact they can share some workload, discuss situations with a fellow registered professional, and apply my knowledge into practice. Being able to bridge a gap between the care team and the nurse will help me not only fulfil my potential but, I hope, will give me the opportunity to pass on valuable learning to the rest of my colleagues.
When I say to people that I am a trainee nursing associate I often get asked “what is that?” or I get looked at with a vague, perplexed expression. These reactions do also come from registered nurses and other trained professionals. I do feel that there is a lack of knowledge and understanding about the role and I do find this a little frustrating at times. Obviously, this particular role is still relatively new and many may not have come across a person who is a nursing associate or is in training to be one. I often see this as an opportunity to shout about the role, explain what it is and share my passion for it. I am proud of myself when I say that I am a trainee nursing associate, I am proud that I am undertaking a foundation degree and I will be proud to be a registered professional. As the role progresses and matures in the nursing family I will strive to grow and mature with it, giving it a voice and shouting about who we are.
My name is Paul, and I am trainee nursing associate. Watch me grow.