Here at Alternative Futures Group, we offer a Trainee Nursing Associate (TNA) programme in partnership with Edge Hill University and the University of Salford. The course provides an alternative pathway into a nursing career, allowing trainees to gain hands on experience in the workplace whilst developing their knowledge in the classroom.

What is the Trainee Nursing Associate programme?

The Trainee Nursing Associate programme is a 2-year course consisting of 6 modules. The course aims to bridge the gap between Support Workers and Registered Nurses, with a focus on delivering a high standard of care to the people we support.

The programme has various units of study that correspond with the NMC standards and competencies similar to the first year of a Nursing course, with an emphasis on both physical and mental health. Some of the fundamental aspects of the course include medication administration, completing ECGs and various other assessments and procedures.

The course combines full-time employment with an accredited qualification. Our current cohort of TNAs work at one of our Independent Hospitals whilst also attending university and completing external placements to broaden their knowledge and expertise.

On completion of the course, our Trainee Nursing Associates will have a foundation degree and will become Registered Nursing Associates with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. There will then be opportunity for further development in their role including the opportunity to progress onto further education and become a Registered Nurse.

We caught up with some of our Trainee Nursing Associates to see how they are getting on with the course so far…

Charlotte Keane

Charlotte, 20, worked as a Support Worker at one of our Independent Hospitals from April – September 2023, before starting the TNA course with the University of Salford in September 2023.

Why did you choose to do the TNA course?

“I wanted to further my career within mental health. I learn better while working, so doing this as an apprenticeship made it easier for me to learn. I go to uni every Tuesday and work the rest of my hours at one of AFG’s Independent Hospitals in Cheshire.

At the beginning of every module, I do a week at university as well as spoke placements at other hospitals. I am yet to do any placements but I am very excited to start these.”

What has been your favourite part of the TNA course so far?

“The support from everyone at the Independent Hospital where I work. Colleagues and the people we support have made me feel really comfortable in my new role. I am also enjoying the clinical days at university and spending time in the simulators.

Recently I have been spending a lot of time in the clinic with other nurses and completing medication rounds under supervision. I have learnt so much!”

Nick Wheeler

Nick, 34, has been a Support Worker with us for over 4 years, and is now completing the TNA course with Edge Hill University.

What have you learnt on the TNA course so far?

“We have been doing lots of work in the simulation suite, performing assessments related to vital signs and looking at how to escalate concerns in the correct way. This has enabled me to analyse everything that needs to be done in an emergency situation, helping me to respond better when facing these situations in the future.

I have also recently begun my first placement block at one of AFG’s Independent Hospitals in Cheshire where I currently work.”

“I have started shadowing the nursing staff, taking part in activities such as medication administration, physical health monitoring, and completing various assessments with people we support which form part of their recovery.

I am delighted to have passed the assessments that we completed in the first term and have received some constructive feedback.”

Jade Higson

Jade, 33, has been with AFG since 2010, working in supported living for adults with learning disabilities. Jade started the TNA course in September 2023 with the University of Salford.

Jade said, “I always wanted to do my nursing but with a family at home, it was a difficult task. When AFG introduced they would be supporting the TNA course, I jumped at the chance.”

How have you found the TNA course since starting in September?

“I moved over to AFG’s mental health division which I really am enjoying. Whilst working at one of AFG’s Independent Hospitals in Greater Manchester, I also attend university once a week and have learnt so much on the course already.”

How does the theoretical side of the TNA course apply to your role with AFG?

“We’ve been learning a lot about medications and clinical skills. This has been especially useful in learning different antipsychotic medications that are used in my current work setting, along with different mental health conditions these are used for.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and completing some external placements to gain more experience.”

Interested in our current opportunities? Visit our careers page.

Read more our colleague’s stories here.