Assistant practitioner

Assistant practitioners are experienced staff working in support roles, alongside qualified healthcare professionals.

This page has information on the role of assistant practitioners, including entry requirements and skills needed. 

Working life

Assistant practitioners (sometime known as associate practitioners) have skills and experience in a particular area of clinical practice. Although they are not registered practitioners they have a high level of skill through their experience and training. 

Assistant practitioners work across the NHS in most departments so you could be working in:

As an assistant practitioner, you'll always work under the direction of a health professional such as a nurse, dietitian, physiotherapist, podiatrist or biomedical scientist. Your level of training and experience means you can often work alone, without supervision. You'll carry out agreed procedures, referring to a professional for guidance when necessary.

You could work in hospitals, clinics or in the community eg GP surgeries. You may visit patients in their homes or in residential care. You'll work closely with other healthcare staff and have a lot of contact with patients.

You may mentor healthcare assistants, trainee assistant practitioners and student nurses.

Entry requirements 

To train as an assistant practitioner, you have to be working in the NHS, often in a clinical support role such as healthcare assistantdietetic assistant or maternity support worker.

As well as healthcare experience, trainee assistant practitioners have a healthcare qualification, usually at level 3, such as the NCFE CACHE Diploma in Healthcare Support.

Your skills and responsibilities will vary, depending on the care setting you work in. You’ll need to demonstrate the values and behaviours of the NHS Constitution and a knowledge of physical health, mental health and illness prevention, as well as more advanced knowledge, depending on your care setting.  

Personal characteristics and skills needed

Assistant practitioners need to be:

You'll also need effective:

Training and development

You will be given the training you need for the job, including an introduction to the department and its procedures. Assistant practitioners usually follow a therapy or nursing training pathway and undertake a level 5 two-year foundation degree in health or social care, which may be available as an apprenticeship programme.

Assistant practitioners have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with regular training.

Assistant practitioners can become members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) or the professional association for their speciality.

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