There are some specific eligibility criteria and entry requirements that need to be observed before an application for the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship is submitted.
Our Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship supports employers to develop their healthcare support workers (HCSWs) towards registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as either Adult, Children and Young People, Learning Disabilities or Mental Health Nurses.
This webpage sets out some key information for our employer partners supporting apprentices on this programme. This information is correct at the time of publishing and this webpage will be reviewed regularly.
Please contact your local Staff Tutor or your Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager with any queries.
The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship is delivered in partnership between the OU and your organisation. The programme consists of at least 4,600 hours of learning which is split equally between theory and practice in accordance with the NMC (2018) Standards for pre-registration nursing programmes. Apprentices are also required to undertake off-the-job training time in line with ESFA funding rules.
The theory elements of the programme are delivered by the OU through online learning, tutorials, written assignments and wider reading.
Practice learning is delivered with supervision within the workplace and on placement with support from the OU. Each of the three stages of the apprenticeship consists of 770 hours of supernumerary clinical practice, which is split across three practice learning periods per stage of the programme.
Our Future Nurse curriculum utilises an Enquiry-Based Learning (EBL) approach. Based on active participation, EBL is a learner-centred teaching approach that motivates and engages apprentices with direct decision making and applied analytical thinking which results in competent, reflective, autonomous practitioners, able to think critically, and who can effectively problem-solve and respond in the ever-changing landscape of health and social care.
We see multiple benefits for apprentice development arising from such an approach – especially with the apprentice being proactive in their own learning, dissecting possible avenues of learning and pursuing these independently. If met with complex care in practice, these are skills that apprentices need to demonstrate in order to practice as safe and competent practitioners.
Introducing health and social care
Understanding nursing: knowledge and theory
Assimilating nursing: knowledge and theory
BSc (Hons) Nursing awarded:
Registration with the NMC.
Apprenticeship programme completed.
Introduction to healthcare practice
Developing nursing practice
Becoming an autonomous practitioner:
(K*326/7/8/9) - 60 credits
The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship has start dates in October and February each year. Comprising six 60 credit modules, the timelines are as follows:
An apprenticeship is a job with a formal programme of training which meets the requirements of the Apprenticeship Standard (in England), Framework (in Wales). The time that employers must allocate to this training can vary between programmes. The planned training hours will be detailed in the Training Plan. Note that in England and Wales, this time is called 'off-the-job training' in England and in Scotland, it is called 'protected time'. This is time for the apprentice to engage in formal learning with the OU during their contracted working hours.
For full guidance, visit: gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeships-off-the-job-training
This takes place in addition to the 2,300 hours of supernumerary clinical practice which your registered nurse degree apprentices will undertake on the programme.
Usually, your apprentices’ normal place of work within your organisation will be their primary or core base for the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship programme. They will be based in their usual place of work for the third practice learning period in each stage of the programme. This allows the apprentices to consolidate the learning achieved in the other two practice learning periods which are based in external practice placement settings. Apprentices are supernumerary for each practice learning experience, including those undertaken whilst in their primary learning base.
As your apprentices’ primary practice base, your organisation will need to meet the NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment. These standards state the quality assurance requirements for practice placement experiences, practice supervisors and practice assessors in each placement setting. Additionally, as the primary practice base, your organisation must also have a satisfactory current learning environment audit with either the OU or another higher education institution (HEI). If your organisation does not have a current learning environment audit in place (as required by the NMC, 2018), a member of the OU nursing team will complete this in conjunction with practice colleagues. The learning opportunities available within your organisation as the primary base will need to be mapped to the NMC (2018) Future Nurse: Standards of proficiency for registered nurses and the skills within Annexe A and B of these standards. This mapping exercise will assist with scoping the range of practice settings and practice learning opportunities required for the two external practice placement periods in each stage of the programme, ensuring that apprentices are provided with a range of experience to meet the Future Nurse standards requirements.
Apprentices in practice or work-placed learning must be supported to learn, which requires them to be supernumerary for the specified number of clinical practice hours needed to complete the apprenticeship. The NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment define supernumerary as meaning that during these periods of practice learning, apprentices “are not counted as part of the staffing required for safe and effective care in that setting”.
In each of the three stages of the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship programme, your apprentices must undertake two further supernumerary practice placements in external placement areas away from their primary practice base. These external practice placement experiences must provide the opportunity for the apprentices to gain learning opportunities and skills which they are unable to meet within their primary practice base to meet the NMC (2018) Future Nurse: Standards of proficiency for registered nurses by the end of the programme.
An example of an external practice placement is a mental health registered nurse degree apprentice employed in a mental health rehabilitation unit, undertaking a practice placement in an acute mental health ward at the same hospital site, or a placement outside of the hospital e.g. a home treatment mental health rapid response team. The Future Nurse Curriculum: Practice Pathways – Principles and Guidance document contains information and examples regarding external practice placements.
Like the primary base, these external placement areas must also meet the NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment with access to practice supervisors and assessors.
Supernumerary external placement experiences will need to be arranged by your organisation in consultation with us, and formal agreements are required prior to apprentices starting the programme. If apprentices go to other healthcare organisations for some of their external placements, there may be an expectation that your organisation enters into reciprocal arrangements for clinical placements, have honorary contracts or service level agreements in place, and that apprentices meet their mandatory and statutory training requirements.
If needed, we will introduce your organisation to contacts we have with local healthcare providers. In some areas the OU has no current partnerships, so your organisation will need to negotiate with local healthcare providers and confirm an agreement on placement provision.
There is a shared responsibility for the support of Registered Nurse Degree Apprentices between the OU and your organisation.
To meet the NMC (2018) Standards framework for nursing and midwifery education, apprentices’ primary base and external placement clinical areas are required to have a current learning environment audit in place. Learning environment audits look at the quality assurance of the clinical setting in terms of learning opportunities, Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports, availability of practice assessors and practice supervisors, compliance with staff appraisals and mandatory training. If your organisation does not have a current learning environment audit in place, a member of the OU Nursing Team will complete this in conjunction with practice colleagues.
It is important that there are enough trained and prepared practice assessors and practice supervisors available to support registered nurse degree apprentices on clinical placement, including cover for annual leave, sickness, special leave and staff leaving.
As described in the NMC (2018) Standards for student supervision and assessment, practice supervisors are registered nurses, registered nursing associates or other registered healthcare professionals within the workplace who act as role models supporting and supervising registered nurse degree apprentices, whilst also providing feedback on their progress and achievement of proficiencies and skills.
Practice assessors are registered nurses or registered nursing associates within the workplace, with appropriate relevant experience, who make and document evidence-based assessments on registered nurse degree apprentices’ conduct, proficiency and achievement.
A practice assessor cannot simultaneously be the practice supervisor for the same registered nurse degree apprentice.
In addition to a designated academic and professional lead for healthcare and account management support, the OU will deploy expert staff to support you and your apprentices:
In addition, The Open University provides the following support for apprentices:
Your apprentices’ theory work will be assessed by the OU through a combination of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs), interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs) and End-of-module assessments (EMAs).
In practice, the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship Practice Assessment Document (PAD) records your apprentices’ achievement of the NMC (2018) Future Nurse: Standards of proficiency for registered nurses within their primary practice base and in the alternative practice placement areas. The practice assessor in the practice setting will sign off apprentices’ achievements.
Regular meetings will take place between the apprentice, their practice assessor and their OU practice tutor, who also fulfils the role of academic assessor. At the mid-point review meeting, the apprentice will be assessed via a ‘Professional discussion’ that draws on their ability to discuss care and the evidence-base underpinning care practices.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) and NMC have agreed that the End Point Assessments (EPA) has been integrated in the final stage of their programme. This means that the apprentice is not required to carry out any additional assessments. The following process explains the integrated EPA:
The integrated EPA starts with the OU Examination board and finishes when the OU/AEI upload the apprentices course outcome, details and the required good health and character declarations to the NMC.
Consideration by the examination board and notice of the decision of the examination board to the NMC meet the requirements of the integrated EPA.
Last update: 20 February 2024
Depending on the specialism:
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