More than bridging the gap
The Shape of Caring Review (Willis, 2015) identified a need to bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and registered nurses. The pilot launched in January 2017 with test sites across England. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register has over 1000 registered nursing associates (NAs) as of June 2019 (NMC, 2019).
I have followed the trainees as a clinical educator in practice and later a lecturer at the University of Derby. In fact, the reason I moved to higher education was because of the excitement and buzz around what was known locally as the ‘legacy’ cohort; legacy referring to the first registered NAs to become NMC registrants.
One of the more concerning aspects of the development of the new role, though, is the perception of NAs by members of the nursing community. NAs have been compared to enrolled nurses on an anecdotal level; however, this comparison is simply not accurate. The NA programme achieves a foundation degree on completion that can be utilised as a springboard into further learning, enhancing future development opportunities. NAs are certainly not ‘cheap nurses’.
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