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TNAs in General Practice

Elise Mitchell

Open University

“At 49 years old, I am considered a mature student, but this has definitely not held me back and neither have I been made to feel as though it should. I was employed by my surgery in 2001 as a Dispenser. I had always expressed an interest in further training to gain a useful and applicable qualification to one day become a registered professional. Eventually, my role was developed to include phlebotomy and then evolved into a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) role.

“I became a TNA in February 2021, and had my first placement in May, at the James Paget University Hospital. I joined a general medical/ gastroenterology ward for five weeks, shadowing qualified nurses. My main tasks were personal care and drug rounds. It was a very useful experience, as I hadn’t worked in a hospital for more than 20 years, and it was good to remind myself of the hospital environment and see things from the patient’s perspective during their hospital stay.

“As I was supernumerary, I had the time to spend with patients to chat with them about their stay. I also booked some spoke days (although these won’t count towards the spoke hours we need), to provide some additional interest to the placement, whilst I had the opportunity. I had four spoke days in ACU, A&E, theatres and Endoscopy. These days provided me with some great experience, and I found them very interesting. I was able to feel more empathy towards my patients in the surgery, having seen some of the things they may experience during a hospital admission.

“As an HCA in general practice, I think our skill set is already quite developed as we carry out more enhanced skills such as wound care, phlebotomy and basic chronic disease management. Conversely, I can see that it is quite difficult to gain a broad and rounded knowledge of nursing while working in Primary Care, as there are things that we just don’t do, or see. I would encourage trainees to ensure to
discuss your placements extensively with your assessors and supervisors when choosing them, and to make sure that they cover not only the areas that are applicable to your work, but that they are also of interest to you. The TNA training is such a great opportunity to learn, see and do so many new skills.

“Once qualified, I may consider the top-up, or I may look into furthering my knowledge with stand-alone courses. I am interested in developing my knowledge in women’s health, particularly menopause, as I feel that this is an area where support is lacking in Primary Care. I feel that being an Registered Nurse Associate will open many doors for me.”

Elise Mitchell

For applications for the TNA Programmes, contact:


Rhiannon Edwards
Primary Care Transformation Workforce Officer