Practice support for Nursing, Nursing Associates and Return to Nursing

In 2018, how we supervise our students in practice changed. We no longer use the term Mentor, there is no longer a sign off mentor nor are there Zoned Academics. The roles, as defined by the Standards for Student Supervision and Assessment (NMC 2023) are now:

  • Practice supervisors (PS)
  • Practice Assessors (PA)
  • Academic Assessors (AA)

The PS and PA preparation is divided between self-directed study and direct teaching. Once registered as either a PS or PA, you need to attend regular updates. This page provides an overview of the differing roles in supporting pre-registration nursing, nursing associates and those returning to nursing in clinical practice settings.

If you would like to complete the initial training, the details can be found in the sections below. If you require an update please view this link for further information.

Practice Supervisor (PS)

All students on a Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) approved programme are required to be supervised while learning in practice by NMC registered nurses, midwives, nursing associates, and other registered health and social care professionals. Practice Supervisors are responsible for the coordination and supervision of students learning in a practice placement setting. The Practice Supervisor should facilitate students to have learning experiences which reflect their individual learning needs and stage of learning.   

Practice Supervisor Roles and Responsibilities

  • Serve as role models for safe and effective practice in line with the NMC Code of Conduct 

  • Support learning in line with their scope of practice to enable the student to meet their proficiencies and programme outcomes 

  • Support and supervise students, providing feedback on their progress towards, and achievement of, proficiencies and skills 

  • Have current knowledge and experience of the area in which they are providing support, supervision and feedback 

  • Receive ongoing support to participate in the practice learning of students. 

  • Contribute to the student’s record of achievement by recording relevant observations on the conduct, proficiency and achievement of the students they are supervising 

  • Contribute to student assessments to inform decisions for progression 

  • Assess students proficiency in specific skills the PS has expertise in, click here for more information
  • Engage with Practice Assessors and Academic Assessors to share relevant observations on the conduct, proficiency and achievement of the students they are supervising 

  • Appropriately raise and respond to student conduct and competence concerns  

To become a Practice Supervisor, you will have 

  • current registration with a professional regulator such as the NMC, GMC or HCPC.  

  • experience of working in a practice placement setting that supports pre-registration students 

  • up-to-date knowledge and experience relevant to the student they are supervising. 

  • completed a programme of preparation for the role of Practice Supervisor 

Practice Supervisor Preparation 

Our local practice partner organisations offer Practice Supervisor Preparation but you can also complete it with the University of Worcester, this consists of ½ day eLearning and ½ day workshop

Practice Assessor (PA)

All students on an NMC approved programme will be assigned to a nominated practice assessor to conduct assessments and confirm student achievement of proficiencies and programme outcomes for practice learning. Student assessments must be evidence based, robust and objective. Practice assessors must make timely assessments and confirmation of proficiency based on an understanding of student achievements across theory and practice, providing assurance of student achievements and competence. 

A Practice Assessor cannot be the practice supervisor for the same student at any time. 

Practice Assessor Roles and responsibilities 

  • Maintain current knowledge and expertise relevant for the proficiencies and programme outcomes they are assessing and will receive ongoing support to fulfil their roles  

  • Make and record objective, evidenced-based assessments on conduct, proficiency and achievement, drawing on student records, direct observations, student self-reflection, and other resources 

  • Periodically observe the student and gather feedback from Practice Supervisors and others relevant people, in order to inform decisions for assessment and progression 

  • Work in partnership with the nominated Academic Assessor to evaluate student proficiency and make recommendations for the students' progression for each part of the programme. 

  • Appropriately raise and respond to concerns regarding student conduct, competence and achievement 

To become a Practice Assessor, you will have 

  • expressed a keen interest to your manager and /or have been nominated by your Trust or organisation to attend a programme of preparation 

  • experience within the practice placement setting 

  • up-to-date knowledge and experience relevant to the student they are assessing 

  • completed a programme of preparation for the role of Practice Assessor  

Practice Assessor Preparation

Practice assessors are required to undertake relevant training to effectively conduct objective, evidence-based assessments of students, provide constructive feedback to facilitate professional development in others, and have knowledge of the assessment process and their role within it. Practice Assessor Preparation is offered at the University of Worcester and, as per the attached programme, it takes the form of 1 day eLearning and 1 day face to face workshop. 

Academic Assessor (AA)

All students on an NMC approved programme will be assigned to a nominated Academic Assessor for each part of the programme. Academic assessors will collate and confirm student achievement of proficiencies and programme outcomes in the academic environment for each part of the programme.  

All nursing and midwifery academics are required to contribute to the support of student’s completing practice learning experiences and will monitor the progress of their allocated student across theory and practice learning settings. This information forms part of discussions between Practice Assessors and Academic Assessors in determining the student's progression. 

Academic Assessors are employed by the University of Worcester and will have completed a PG Cert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (or equivalent) and/or Higher Education Academy Fellowship and will have received preparation for their role. Academic Assessors are also involved in the delivery of the programme for which they are acting as an Academic Assessor and will therefore have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the requirements of the programme. 

Academic Assessor Roles and Responsibilities 

  • Make and record objective, evidence-based decisions on conduct, proficiency and achievement, and recommendations for progression, drawing on student records and other resources 

  • Work in partnership with a nominated Practice Assessor to evaluate and recommend the student for progression for each part of the programme, in line with programme standards and local and national policies 

  • Have an understanding of the student’s learning and achievement in practice 

  • Communicate and collaborate with the Practice Assessors at relevant points in the programme to determine student progression and achievement 

  • Appropriately raise and respond to concerns regarding student conduct, competence and achievement 

Mentors Updating to new SSSA roles

If you have previously been a Mentor to Pre-registration Nursing students, you will be required to attend a transitional update within your current Trust or Organisation to enable you to convert from your current role of Mentor to a Practice Supervisor and/or Practice Assessor. These mentor updates will be based on a core mentor update developed by the Midlands Yorkshire and East Practice Learning Group (MYEPLG)

Students having positive learning and enriching practice experiences depend upon the support they are provided with. To transition from a Mentor to Practice Supervisor and / or Practice Assessor you must attend an update, please contact your Practice Facilitator / Education Team for further information on updates in your practice placement areas. 

Placement Support

We offer our students a range of placements predominantly across the counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire with additional placement opportunities in neighbouring counties. The Placement Support Team: Nursing, Midwifery, and Allied Health (PLAST) work with placement partners to plan, arrange and record student placements across several different courses within two of the university schools:  The Three Counties School of Nursing and Midwifery, and the School of Allied Health and Community. The Placement Support Team ( pages contain contact information and instructions on accessing the placement allocations software, ARC.      

Each of our placement areas are supported by Practice Facilitators or Educators (PF’s) these are staff who are employed by the practice placement organisations and work closely with our University staff to ensure that students are supported during their practice learning experiences by appropriately prepared staff.          

Any concerns in Practice about student's welfare and /or performance should be escalated using our Speaking up - raising concerns and managing student issues in practice algorithm.

Student Coaching in Practice Model (SCIP)


Following positive evaluations in other areas of the UK, Health Education England funding was used at the University of Worcester to implement a coaching based approach to student supervision. The SCiP name and logo was chosen from a range of ideas submitted from mentors and students and incorporates a collaborative learning approach across all students in clinical practice. It is based on the original CLIP (collaborative learning in practice) project developed in East Anglia. 

A pilot project commenced in October 2018, consisting of practice areas in three of our partner Trusts: Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Worcester Health and Care NHS Trust, and Wye Valley NHS Trust. The SCiP model moves away from the traditional mentoring approach to student learning, towards a coaching approach in encouraging student independence and confidence to ‘own and develop’ their learning experiences.     

SCiP Champions within each NHS Trust along with Zoned Academics within the University Nursing department supported this initiative and the pilot project completed in July 2019. Following positive evaluations, this model will continue to be used in established clinical areas and implemented in additional placement areas as appropriate.   

Further information

 Midlands Yorkshire and East Practice Learning Group (MYEPLG) webpage for a standardised approach to PS/PA.

Report a concern

Placement staff or students with any concerns about a student’s welfare, standards of care or factors affecting learning during placement, can escalate concerns using our report a concern portal. If you are raising a concern, please be assured that we are committed to addressing all concerns in a respectful and professional manner. Commendations, compliments and areas of good practice can also be reported via the tool. We welcome all positive feedback for our students that supports their professional development and standards of professional care.