Assistant practitioners are experienced staff working in support roles, alongside qualified healthcare professionals.
Training and qualifications required
To apply to train as an assistant practitioner, you have to be working in the NHS, often in a clinical support role such as healthcare assistant, dietetic assistant, maternity support worker, etc. As well as healthcare experience, trainee assistant practitioners have a healthcare qualification, usually at level 3, such as the CACHE Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support. You'll be given the training you need for the job, including an introduction to the department and its procedures. You'll usually be expected to study part time for a foundation degree in health or social care and to keep your skills and knowledge up to date with regular training.
Expected working hours and salary range
Clinical support staff working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. As an assistant practitioner, you would usually be on AfC band 4. There are sometimes opportunities for trainee assistant practitioners at AfC band 3. You'll usually work standard hours of around 37.5 a week and may work shifts, which could involve nights, early starts, evenings and weekends. Terms and conditions will usually be different for clinical support staff working outside of the NHS.
Desirable skills and values
As an assistant practitioner, you'll need to be caring and kind, physically strong for lifting and patients and equipment, willing to be hands-on with patients, able to follow instructions and procedures, able to work in a team but use their own initiative, able to explain procedures to patients, careful and methodical. You'll also need good communication skills, including listening, good organisational and observational skills.
With experience and training you could become a senior assistant practitioner, supervising the work of other clinical support staff. With experience, and as long as you can demonstrate that you have the academic ability to study at degree level, you could apply to train as a healthcare professional such as a nurse, dietitian, physiotherapist, podiatrist, healthcare science practitioner, etc.