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Assistant practitioners (sometime known as associate practitioners) are experienced staff working in support roles, alongside qualified healthcare professionals. They 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 respiratory medicine, testing and assessing lung function, occupational therapy, assessing people’s need for aids and equipment at home, an operating theatre area, scrubbing and assisting in surgical and other procedures, or monitoring patients recovering from surgery, providing personal, social, therapeutic and rehabilitative care (e.g. bowel care and management, catheter insertions etc.),dietetics, encouraging people to make healthier food choices, biomedical science, analysing samples in a lab, mental health services, supporting adults or young people with mental health issues, stroke rehabilitation, helping people recover in their own homes, emergency medicine, treating patients so they can return home as soon as possible, radiography, helping to diagnose or treat a patient’s illness, a health centre or GP surgery, changing dressings and monitoring medication, hearing services, as a hearing aid dispenser

Assistant practitioners, always work under the direction of a health professional such as a nursedietitianphysiotherapistpodiatrist or biomedical scientist. Their level of training and experience means you can often work alone, without supervision, carrying out agreed procedures, referring to a professional for guidance when necessary.

Assistant practitioners could work in hospitals, clinics or in the community e.g. GP surgeries, may visit patients in their homes or in residential care.

They 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.

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

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