Several hundred nurses in the West Midlands are among the first to embark on new multi-professional training aimed at creating a standardised advanced practitioner status.
The move by Health Education England’s West Midlands’ regional branch aims to help solve the long-standing issue of the considerable variability in advanced practitioner roles around the country.
“There were variations in how they were recruited and in definitions of advanced practitioner roles”
Initial surveys for the project – involving higher education institutions, trusts and other healthcare employers – confirmed variation in existing training courses, skills and definitions of current advanced practitioner jobs and roles.
Sukvinder Kaur, the programme’s manager for HEE in the West Midlands, said: “The survey of higher education institutions found similarities and differences in the education provided, such as the length of training and the fact some did or did not offer independent prescribing.
“We found trusts and organisations were employing advanced clinical practitioners, but they may not actually be called that and had a number of different job titles,” she said. “There were variations in how they were recruited and in definitions of advanced practitioner roles.”
The Masters-level course now being offered at nine universities in the region is part of an HEE initiative to boost workforce capacity, plug skills gaps and recognise the contribution advanced-level workers can make in acute, community and primary care.
While on the course, participants continue to work directly with patients as “trainee advanced clinical practitioners” and are guaranteed a job once they complete the training.
Moves to standardise advanced practitioner roles
The programme has involved the development of a standardised curriculum to achieve “advanced clinical practitioner” status and a framework setting out core principles and competencies, working closely with universities, employers and existing advanced practitioners in various fields.
Nearly 150 professionals embarked on the first courses, which started in September, of which 70% were nurses. A second cohort of around 100 more students started in January.
Nurses who complete the course will have the title Advanced Clinical Practitioner – Nurse. Applicants who have previously completed elements of the training, such as being a nurse prescriber, will be able to fast-track parts of the course.
The West Midlands programme will feed into wider efforts to develop the advanced practitioner role by other regional branches of HEE with a view to developing a set of national principles.
Ms Kaur added that she thought it was important the training was multi-professional.
“When you are working within services you will be working with lots of different professional groups and people from different backgrounds so that gives you an advantage from day one,” she said.