University’s competence test centre welcomes first candidates for new exam

Date 3.07.2019

Northampton’s Test of Competence Centre extended the field of professionals they examine today with the first overseas candidates who wish to work as nursing associates in the UK.

Kylie from New Zealand and Pouly from India were welcomed by the centre’s (CTC) staff as they completed the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). They are the first people to be tested with a new examination for potential nursing associates – and both were successful.

CTC staff and representatives from the NMC are pictured with the first ever Nursing Associate candidates

CTC Northampton staff and members of the NMC with the nursing associate candidates.

Nursing associates are registered professionals who work alongside registered nurses and health care support workers to deliver hands-on care for patients. Although it is a full role in itself, nursing associates can later use this as a route to training to become a degree-level nurse.

The CTC – based in the University of Northampton’s Innovation Centre – delivers the OSCE on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the UK regulator for nurses and midwives.

There are two other CTC’s in the UK – one at Oxford Brookes University and the other at Ulster University – but Northampton CTC is the only centre that currently can test potential nursing associates following a successful contract bid earlier this year.

After passing a multiple-choice question exam, candidates visit the CTC to complete the OSCE. The OSCE consists of a series of practice based stations that reflect the clinical environment (for instance a hospital, GP practice or care home).

They are set-up with scenarios that mimic, as close to real-life as possible, some of the situations nurses and midwives can face when working with patients.

Three of the stations are scenario based and involve actors playing the part of a patient and candidates are observed to see how they handle these encounters, for instance how they communicate with patients. The other three stations test candidates’ clinical skills, for instance administering correct dosages of medicine.

The OSCE for nursing associates covers all sections of the NMC’s standards and only those who pass the OSCE can join the NMC’s register and practice as a nursing associate in the UK, ensuring overseas qualified and trained professionals are safe and effective practitioners.

Dr Steve O’Brien, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Society, said: “Welcoming the first UK-trained nursing associate students back in 2017 was an auspicious moment in itself so to see the first ever overseas candidates who wish to join them is wonderful.”

“Our CTC staff can be rightly proud of this moment and their work as a whole. Since opening four years ago, clinical assessors have tested more than 9,000 nurses and midwives from outside the UK, ensuring the safety of patients across the UK.

“I wish the very best to Kylie and Pouly and to many more future nursing associates from across the world.”

Find out more about the work of Northampton CTC.