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A flexible new approach to developing advanced clinical practitioners

A female healthcare practitioner in dark blue scrubs and holding a clipboard smiles at a male patient whose back is to the camera

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) and The Open University are working in partnership to develop healthcare professionals to become Advanced Clinical Practitioners.

Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACPs) are experienced practitioners from a range of professionally registered healthcare backgrounds, including nurses, pharmacists, and other allied health professionals. They are educated to Master’s level, and can take on greater responsibility when managing complex patient care within their scope of practice.

Twelve healthcare professionals from UHS joined the OU’s Advanced Clinical Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship in 2021, with a similar number due to join the programme in 2022.

Joanne Smith, the Education and Advanced Practice Lead within the Specialist Services Division at UHS, says “We have Advanced Clinical Practitioners across the whole organisation – 179 in the last count – working independently or as a team to support our services. We recruit into vacancies and there is a lot of interest and applications for these roles.”

Delivered through distance learning, with support from expert OU tutors and supervision in practice provided by the Trust, the apprenticeship provides greater flexibility for UHS to develop more Advanced Clinical Practitioners in their organisation.

“We work with traditional classroom-based universities in the region, but the flexibility with regard to numbers of starters with the OU was very attractive for us. Leaders and managers also find that the OU study is more flexible than other providers. Apprentices really enjoy the dedicated study time that can be configured around shifts and service needs. The feedback that we’ve had from the clinical teams has been very, very positive,” explains Joanne.

The apprenticeship route is available in England, enabling eligible employers to make use of their apprenticeship levy.  A Master’s route is also available throughout the rest of the UK through the OU’s MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice.

Both the apprenticeship and MSc route also include an integrated non-medical prescribing component, which enables practitioners to become independent and/or supplementary prescribers registered with their professional body. The non-medical prescribing element is also available as a standalone qualification through the OU’s Postgraduate Certificate in Non-Medical Prescribing.

If you’re a registered healthcare professional looking to enhance your career and practice, or are an employer looking to develop advanced practitioners in your healthcare organisation, find out more about our:

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