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Pioneering new roles in healthcare: Nursing Associate students’ experiences of work-based learning in the United Kingdom

Attenborough, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4018-8445, Abbott, S., Brook, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-8867-0150 & Knight, R-A. (2020). Pioneering new roles in healthcare: Nursing Associate students’ experiences of work-based learning in the United Kingdom. Work Based Learning e-Journal, 9(1), pp. 35-60.


In order to address urgent workforce considerations and changing demographics, in 2017 the National Health Service in the United Kingdom introduced a new role in healthcare, the Nursing Associate. Education for the new role was delivered by work-based learning in partnership with local universities. This paper reports on a qualitative longitudinal study of a study which explored the experiences of work-based learners enrolled at a university in London. Data was collected in two stages over a six-month period: 17 work-based learners participated in interviews in stage 1 and seven in stage 2. Data was analysed using framework analysis; the framework was derived from a systematic literature review about introducing new roles in healthcare. Results have resonance for work-based learning programmes in healthcare and beyond and included the importance of adequate time for work-based learning; supervision by a skilled clinical educator; stakeholder engagement; a well-defined scope of practice and an appropriate and supportive educational programme. Participants valued the input of experienced qualified staff but appreciated the capacity issues that militated against their progress, as staff were not always able to support them. Participants also identified the necessity to take responsibility for their own learning in clinical practice. University-based learning was valued more highly than learning in practice, suggesting, as has been established elsewhere, that work-based learning opportunities in healthcare can be difficult to identify.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: work-based learning, healthcare apprenticeships, nursing associate, healthcare workforce
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
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