Nursing Degree Apprenticeship – What You Need to Know

For those working in the NHS, or considering a career in health care, it probably won’t come as a huge surprise that the the health service is facing a challenging time. Staff shortages in hospitals and clinics across the UK are becoming acute, particularly in nursing. Despite nurses making up a vital part of the NHS workforce, the majority of hospitals are struggling to fill full-time nursing positions. Across England, only one in every seven nursing vacancies is being filled, while at the worst extreme, hospitals in Maidenhead in Kent are only managing to fill one out of every 400 vacancies.

For the first time in the history of the NHS, more nurses are leaving the NHS than are entering it, due to high levels of burn out, longer working hours, and high costs of living. This makes the profession untenable for many, especially in and around London and the South East.

As a result, demand for qualified nurses has never been higher. In an attempt to tackle chronic staff shortages, the government has launched a series of initiatives to attract more nurses, including the introduction of the nursing associate role and the nursing degree apprenticeship. Below, we lay out some of the keys things to know about this new programme, and how it has been running so far.

What is the Nursing Degree Apprenticeship?

The nursing degree apprenticeship was launched in September 2017 as a way to attract greater numbers of nurses and to streamline the process of becoming a qualified nurse. Whereas before, those considering a career in nursing needed to complete a degree, prospective students can now combine academic learning with on the job training. You’ll be given time by your employer to train part-time at an institution approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, with most courses taking four years to complete.

Who is Eligible and what is the Application Process?

The nursing degree apprenticeship is open to everyone. You don’t have to have any experience in healthcare to be able to apply. If you’re already working as a nursing associate, some of the experience that you’ve gained will count towards your course.

It’s relatively straightforward to apply. You can find a list of employers offering these types of apprenticeships here. It’s also important to note that there are no tuition fees to pay. The cost of the course is paid by your employer, as part of the Apprenticeship Levy, launched in April 2017, which means that employers who have a pay bill of more than £3million must contribute a percentage of their income towards training and apprenticeships. This means that you will gain the same qualification as someone who would in the past have had to pay tuition fees on a university course, while earning money and gaining experience working on the ward at the same time.

Problems with the Nursing Degree Apprenticeship

Public Health England has a target of 2,400 to be enrolled on the course within the first 6 months of it being rolled out, with a further 17,000 current nursing associates to extend their training to become registered nurses. However, so far the take up on these courses has been quite low.

Critics have also pointed out that the way the apprenticeship levy is structured has created obstacles for the effective running of the course. The cost of training nurses in this way is very high and a lack of funding for suitable on the job training could mean the quality of training may be compromised.

Other Options for Nurses

With the nursing landscape facing unprecedented changes, there’s no doubt that it’s a challenging time to be working in the field. But with these challenges have come new opportunities to explore the ways in which nurses currently work and how they can be improved. Here at EBPCOOH, we are continually recruiting nurses for our out of hours service, with an emphasis on roles that offer a high level of flexibility so that you can find roles that work for you. If you’d like to find out more, you can see explore our current vacanciee, or feel free to contact us if you have any questions.