New apprenticeship standards for advanced clinical practitioners have been given the seal of approval, meaning the first programmes should be on offer to nurses soon.
The final standards, published by training body Skills for Health, set out the skills required to achieve the master’s level qualification, which will typically take three years to complete.
The new advanced apprenticeship is aimed at any healthcare professional – including nurses – as long as they are registered with one of the statutory healthcare regulators.
It represents one of the first times a nationally agreed definition and standards for advanced practitioners have been drawn up, following the recent publication of a national framework for the role, and also the introduction of a voluntary accreditation scheme by the Royal College of Nursing.
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Under the new apprenticeship framework, advanced nurse practitioners and other advanced clinicians will be expected to “have a high level of autonomy”.
This means “freedom to make decisions about how people should be cared for and treated and act in complex and unpredictable situations”.
The role may include prescribing medicines, therapies and care and advanced practitioners will be expected to be able to “apply a skillset that may have traditionally been the remit of other disciplines so that you can enhance the care and experience of individuals”.
As well as delivering high-level care, advanced practitioners will also be expected to drive improvements in services, educate others and undertake research activities.
When it comes to the core values advanced practitioner must be “caring, compassionate, honest, conscientious and committed”.
They must “show respect and empathy” for colleagues and “have the courage to challenge areas of concern”.
The apprenticeship will combine university and work-based learning with ongoing assessment, culminating in a final assessment designed to showcase everything candidates have learned, which will include a two-hour exam based on three case studies and a presentation in which candidates will outline a proposed change in practice.
Plans for the new qualification suggest up to 200 people could embark on the training in the first year.
However, this should increase to around 1,000 a year once the qualification is established, states the End Point Assessment Plan.
The advanced clinical practitioner apprenticeship is one of a number of new apprenticeships being launched in healthcare, including for nurses and nursing associates.
Since April last year, all large employers in England – including NHS trusts – have been required to pay an apprentice levy to fund apprentice training.
Under the new system, employers negotiate contracts direct with training providers for the staff training and assessments they need.
A spokesman for the Council of Deans of Health said: “The creation of an advanced practice apprenticeship standard in England could be a major step in supporting the development of the workforce at this level and addressing the challenges around funding for post-registration education that have previously been an issue.
“The council will be working with Health Education England and other stakeholders over the coming year to help support the growth of this role,” he added.