Assistant Practitioner (Nursing) Higher Apprenticeship FdSc

Work-based undergraduate (20 months)

Chelmsford, Cambridge

September, January

(Subject to approval)


Our higher apprenticeship is ideal if you're a healthcare assistant who wants to develop your skills and play a fuller role in your nursing team. On successful completion of the course, you can opt to study for a full honours degree - and ultimately, become a registered nurse.

Full description
One of the top 10 UK universities for nursing
Nursing Times
31 August 2016


On successful completion of this course and the endpoint assessment, you'll be ready to work as an assistant practitioner to a nursing team. You can also opt to join our Nursing degree apprenticeship, and train to become a registered nurse.

Modules & assessment

Year 1

  • Fundamental Knowledge for Health Care Practice
    This theory module will be delivered at the beginning of the course to prepare students in all areas of nursing care with the knowledge required to deliver fundamental and safe care. Understanding the importance of patient safety is a key strand within this module and students will be introduced to their responsibilities in maintaining patient safety, the safeguarding of vulnerable people and the key drivers underpinning this. Students will also be introduced to the Health Care Support Worker Code of Conduct (2013) and the professional and NHS Constitution values required for health care practice. A range of communication and study skills will be central to the student experience, as will the development of knowledge in relation to human anatomy and physiology. Understanding the concept of health and an introduction to the prevention of ill-health and promotion of healthy behaviours will prepare students to recognise the health care professional’s role in public health. Recognising that for many students this will be their first experience of Higher Education, study skills such as identifying personal learning styles, literature searching, preparing reference lists, presentation skills, reflective practice, understanding marking criteria and using feedback will be addressed. Students will also be supported to identify types of literature and evidence to support care provision/practice. To support the early development of team working skills, students’ understanding of personal, lay and professional perspectives of health be will assessed through a team presentation. Bioscience knowledge will be assessed through a multi-choice exam.
  • Fundmental Skills for Health Care Practice
    This work-based learning module will be delivered to support students in all fields of nursing to acquire the skills required to deliver fundamental and safe care. The students for this module will all be employed in nursing care settings and will bring with them a range of experience and existing skills. The Health care Support Worker Code of Conduct (2013) underpins the practice aspects. The module focuses on the five cluster skills (adapted from the NMC 2010): Care, compassion and communication; Organisational aspects of care; Infection prevention and control; Nutrition and fluid management; Medicines management. Students will also be assessed on their inter-personal and professional attributes reflecting the 6Cs (Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage, Commitment). In addition students will complete a student pledge linked to the 6Cs and supervisors will approach service users for feedback on the students’ performance. As part of the practice element, students will identify a patient’s journey and explore other services related to that journey. The taught component will include portfolio development. Students and supervisors will be supported in practice by the module leader, Education Champions and link tutors.
  • Knowledge and Values for Health Care Practice
    This module will be delivered in the first year of the course and will support students to develop an understanding of the professional values and attributes expected of a health care worker. Professional and NHS Constitution values will be explored from a range of perspectives and students will have the opportunity to consider the concept of professionalism itself. The Francis Report (2013) and Patients Association (2015) highlight the importance of delivering individualized care that responds to human needs rather than system-driven protocols. In response to this, students will be supported to understand the significance of prioritising patients as central to the role of a health care worker. Person-centred care will be further addressed through the exploration of patient autonomy and patients’ rights. The concepts of advocacy (including raising concerns) and candour will also be studied to provide students with an understanding of the legal and ethical parameters that support the delivery of safe care. The module will build on knowledge of bioscience and clinical skills to further enhance delivery of safe and fundamental care. Communication skills are also important in this endeavour and will be considered across a range of service user groups including those with sensory impairment, learning difficulties and dementia. Exploring health inequalities and health behaviours will further provide students with insight into the challenges faced by individuals in managing their health. The module is designed to be accessed through either face-to-face or blended learning delivery patterns. Students’ understanding of values based health care and the professional knowledge used to deliver safe care will be assessed through a written reflection and bioscience knowledge will be assessed through a multi-choice exam.
  • Clinical Skills for Health Care Practice
    This module is intended to equip students with the underpinning knowledge and practical clinical skills for practice as Senior Health care support workers/ Assistant Practitioners. Students will receive a combination of lectures and clinical skills sessions to link the theory of the anatomy and physiology of the body with core skills and observations. Students will develop these skills in clinical settings, where appropriate, or through simulation within the Skills laboratory. The clinical skills relate to the BSc (Hons) RN curricula to support the step-on to the BSc course following completion of the FdSc. As students are employed in health care settings, mandatory training is provided in-house for Moving and Handling, basic life support and in-hospital life support, and therefore these are not included. Supported by a strong evidence-base from core texts by simulation within the clinical skills labs, the students will develop confidence and understanding of their role in supporting patient healing and working within a multi-disciplinary team to support patient outcomes. The module will equip students with the basic skills for managing adult, child and mental health patients within a clinical setting, including: clinical intervention and acute deterioration management. Underpinning all aspects of the module will be the NHS Constitution, the 6Cs, the Recommendations from the Willis Report (2015) and the Health care Support Worker Code of Conduct (2013). The assessment for the module is a portfolio/work-book demonstrating development of clinical skills and relevant underpinning knowledge.
  • Medicines Calculation for Safe Practice 1
    You will develop your competence in basic medicines calculations relating to tablets and capsules, liquid medicines, and injections.

Year 2 core module

  • Work-based Learning in Health Care
    This module enables students to develop their role in their own area of practice. It looks at developing a range of skills including: risk assessment, managing quality of care, teaching and assessing others and the development of knowledge and skills related to the work setting. The module will include core content related to clinical governance, teaching and assessing and management of change. Understanding the place of clinical governance, standard setting and audit in providing and maintaining quality care for service users is important to all health care professionals. Risk assessment and management are equally as important in supporting patient safety and students will have the opportunity to consider how patient safety may be enhanced through carrying out clinical audits and evaluating existing provision against evidence based standards. Approaches to change management will be explored through devising an action plan addressing an area of service development. Teaching and assessing others whether it be new members of staff, health care assistants or others, is a key aspect of developing health care practice. Theory underpinning what makes a good learning environment and the use of formative and summative assessment will be explored. In addition, students will identify areas for development within their own area of practice, guided by their employer. The assessment of the module consists of a portfolio of evidence which will include: personal development plan; service improvement action plan, report of an audit, reflection on teaching and assessing a colleague and how they have developed leadership and management skills relevant to scope of practice.

Year 2 field-specific modules

  • Contemporary Issues in Adult Health Care (adult nursing specialism)
    This is a theory / practice module addressing the complexities of long term conditions and palliative care for adult patients. The Five Years Forward View (2014) calls for a ‘radical upgrade’ in prevention and public health and development of integrated services to meet the needs of the UK population. This module will provide the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge and understanding of the pathophysiology, pharmacology, ethical and legal issues and challenges faced by those affected by long term and life limiting conditions. Effective integrated care is critical to the patient experience and students will explore the impact of national drivers from a theoretical and practice based perspective, with a focus on the use and effectiveness of care pathways. Preventing the development of long term conditions and life-threatening disease, promoting health and wellbeing and supporting adults with long term conditions to live well independently are key aspects of the nurse’s role. Students will explore the concept of empowerment and the factors (psychological, physiological, social-economic and genomic) influencing a person’s health choices and readiness for change. With understanding of national policy and the ‘Framework for Personalised Care and Population Health for Nurses, Midwives, Health Visitors and Allied Health Professionals’ (DH, 2014) students will be expected to engage with the importance of nurses as health promoting practitioners, delivering person-centred care and Making Every Contact Count (MECC) (DH, 2014). The assessment for this module requires students to take a case study approach and consider the patient journey, analysing the effectiveness of integrated care for a patient with a long term condition or life shortening illness. Students will complete practice competencies within their work setting.
  • Contemporary Issues in Children's and Young People's Health Care (child nursing specialism)
    This theory and practice module will build on existing knowledge and experience to explore contemporary issues in child nursing across a wide range of areas. It will support students to develop an understanding of the assessment needs of children and young people which will enable them to plan and deliver care in a variety of different practice areas. The importance of assessment, communication and partnership within an inter professional framework of care will be emphasised as the basis for developing the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to meet the needs of children, young people and their families/carers. The module will explore the developmental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual needs of children and young people and the importance of the explicit knowledge required to deliver holistic family centred care. The factors that may impact on the health and wellbeing of children across a variety of settings will be considered during this module. Students will explore the factors which enable and those which inhibit children and young people from achieving their innate potential, taking into account their cultural, spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual, developmental and social needs. If children's nurses are to give effective care to children they must respect their rights and consider the needs of the whole family, ensuring that what they offer is designed to meet the children's expectations and needs. Students will evaluate the role of the children's nurse, focussing on the implications for children and young people living in contemporary society. The children's nurse's role in health promotion and the local, national and international policy which influence strategies and initiatives will be considered. Understanding how research, health care legislation and policy determine best practice for children’s nurses will support students to examine practice and approach change in a dynamic way. Simulated skills will take place. The assessment of this module involves a child/young person and family led case study, reviewing the development and wellbeing of the child/young person and their family and opportunities for children’s nurses to become involved in promoting the health of the family unit. Students will complete practice competencies within their work setting.
  • Engaging in Mental Health Care (mental health nursing specialism)
    This module will explore the nature of mental illness and mental health nursing practice within a biopsychosocial, cultural and historical context. Students will be asked to identify and explore both the purpose and process of assessment and care planning with people using mental health services. It intends to challenge students pre-existing values, beliefs and opinions and aims to facilitate the development of core principles that support a philosophy of recovery led and service user focused care across the lifespan. The module is designed to be accessed through either face-to-face or work-based learning delivery patterns, and will be assessed via a case study. Students will complete practice competencies within their own work setting.


In addition to assessments for each module, all students undertake an endpoint assessment to complete this course.

The endpoint assessment takes place during the final three months of the course and includes the following components:

  • a multiple choice and short answer test
  • an observation of practice undertaken in the workplace
  • a reflective journal
  • an interview.

These elements are carried out by independent assessors who will be identified from the register of assessors (RoAAO). Time will be allocated to guide you through the process.

Multiple choice and short answer test

This assesses the following knowledge components of the apprenticeship standard:

  1. Principles and philosophy of health and social care
  2. Physiology, organisation and function of the human body
  3. Lifespan developments and healthcare needs from prenatal to end of life/bereavement
  4. Research and development in the health and social care sector to inform and improve quality of care
  5. Provision and promotion of holistic person centred care and support, duty of care and safeguarding of individuals
  6. Importance of the strategic environment in health and social care and the implications for the individual
  7. Importance of current evidence based practice within scope of the role
An observation of practice undertaken in the workplace

You must be able to:

  1. Communicate complex sensitive information through a variety of methods
  2. Manage information, keeping accurate records and ensuring confidentiality
  3. Use and promote a range of techniques to prevent the spread of infection including hand hygiene, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and waste management
  4. Promote and maintain a safe and healthy working environment
  5. Identify and manage risks
  6. Demonstrate and promote what it means in practice to provide person centred care and support
  7. Treat people with dignity, respecting individual's diversity, beliefs, culture, values, needs, privacy and preferences
  8. Show respect and empathy for those you work with; have the courage to challenge areas of concern and work to best practice; be adaptable, reliable and consistent
  9. Show discretion and self-awareness
  10. Promote effective inter-professional and multi-disciplinary team working with peers, colleagues and staff from other agencies
  11. Provide appropriate leadership within the scope of the role
  12. Undertake defined clinical or therapeutic interventions appropriately delegated by a registered practitioner
A reflective journal

You'll complete a journal in the three months leading up to the endpoint assessment. It's a chance to reflect on the development of the following components from the apprenticeship standard:

  1. Case Management
  2. Supervision and Teaching

Your reflective journal must also include evidence of the values and behaviours being applied in the context of case management and supervision and teaching.

An interview

The final interview takes the form of a professional discussion, to let you further showcase your knowledge, skills and behaviours.

The assessor will select the areas they wish to explore with you after viewing your responses to the multiple choice and short answer test, your reflective journal and the outcome of the observation of practice.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support our students through their learning.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

Degree apprenticeships are funded by your employer and the Government


Entry requirements

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Essential requirements:

  • Employment in a suitable healthcare role/environment on a permanent contract exceeding 30 hours per week
  • Employer support to undertake this course
  • Confirmed eligibility to be funded as an Apprentice as set out within the ESFA’s Funding Rules
  • Evidence of level 3 study in a related subject, eg A Levels, BTEC in Health and Social Care*
  • Level 2 qualifications in Maths and English, eg GCSEs at Grade C/4 or above (or equivalent)**
  • An enhanced level Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) disclosure is a check with police forces and local authorities in the UK to ascertain whether or not you are suitable to work with certain groups of vulnerable people. These checks are required to be carried out on all prospective students to ensure the safety of our client group.
    Further information on DBS disclosure will be sent at a later date if you are successful and firmly accept your place at ARU.
  • Occupational Health clearance from your employer

* Applicants without a Level 3 qualification but with experience of healthcare will be considered on an individual basis for accreditation of prior learning (APL)/prior experiential learning (APEL).

** Applicants currently working towards a Level 2 qualification in either English or Maths must have gained the qualification prior to the start of the course. If you are unlikely to have evidence of either qualification before the start of the course, you should delay your application until you have these.

Please note: you will need to have the National Care Certificate (Health) to undertake the End Point Assessment. If you do not hold this, you will be able to complete this during your Foundation Degree programme to enable you to take the EPA.

Only on provision of the evidence to demonstrate that you meet the requirements listed above will you be invited to attend an interview.

You will be required to provide one reference from someone who knows you in your current (preferable), or most recent, healthcare role to identify your attitude to study and learning.

Apply now