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What does a Nurse Associate do?

by Rachel Chapman, Nurse Associate at Chestnut Tree House.

Get to know Rachel

I started at Chestnut Tree House 14 years ago as a Care Support Worker. I’ve always worked in care with children, but palliative care was what I really wanted to do. I lost my sister when I was younger and, since then, I've had an interest in helping families and making their last days a bit better.

What is a Nurse Associate?

I read about the new Nurse Associate role in Nursing Times magazine when it was brought in as a new qualification by the NHS. Two of us interviewed for the training and both got a place to study for a two-year foundation degree. As it’s a form of apprenticeship, it’s a combination of academic study and work-based learning which included several placements in clinical settings.

It’s a general qualification (combining adult and paediatric nursing), so we continued our employment at Chestnut Tree House while also undertaking other placements in adult mental health and disability settings.

Career progression

Care workers have a large skill set and we’re highly trained in a variety of clinical competencies. Duties include personal care as well as care of feeding tubes and tracheostomies, suction, ventilation and administering medications under the supervision of a nurse.

The progression to nurse associate means being able to administer drugs independently, care for invasively ventilated children and take our skills further with more in-depth knowledge.

I learned a huge amount throughout the duration of my training, but one of the most valuable lessons I learned was how resilient I am. Sometimes, starting a placement and having experience of working in a clinical setting, people just expect you to know everything. I discovered how to speak up for myself and insist on having things explained properly.

Broadening horizons

I would encourage anyone considering the Nurse Associate training to do it because it deepens your knowledge and skills. It’s certainly worth it to progress in your career. As a healthcare assistant, there’s only so far you can go – but doing the nurse associate training broadens your horizons so you can go anywhere.

In terms of how much my role has changed on a day-to-day basis, it’s certainly busier! I look after more children now, and those I care for are more complex. I have more responsibility and more autonomy. We have a senior nurse who’s in charge of a whole shift, while the nurses and nursing associates care wholly for their child.

Working in children’s hospice care is so rewarding. I think lots of people think hospice care and palliative care is very sad, but that’s absolutely not the case. End-of-life care is only a small part of what we do.

Image of Rachel with a love hert sign saying: My favourite part of my job is seeing the difference we make to children and young people and the opportunities we can give them.

Would you like to work for Chestnut Tree House and make a real difference?