NHS Careers > Explore by career > Wider healthcare team > Careers in the wider healthcare team > Clinical support staff > Assistant practitioner
Assistant practitioners work at level 4 of the NHS career framework developed by Skills for Health. The term 'assistant practitioner' is sometimes used in the job title, but is also a generic term applied to staff working in level 4 roles.
Assistant practitioners work in a broad range of areas, primarily but not exclusively, with patient contact. In clinical areas, they will usually be managed by a healthcare professional, for example, a dietitian, nurse, occupational therapist, midwife, physiotherapist, operating department practitioner or healthcare scientist.
Examples of assistant practitioner level roles include:
- occupational therapy assistant
- diabetes team assistant
- expert patient coordinator
- assistant theatre practitioner
- primary care worker in mental health
- IT support worker
- assistant practitioner (falls)
The exact role will vary, depending on the post, but examples include the following:
Assistant practitioner - stroke
- working in a multi-disciplinary team, assist in the identification of stroke patients within hospital and community settings and support the maintenance of the stroke register
- assist in the smooth transfer of patients between care settings
- actively participate in the effective discharge of patients and follow-up plans
- record electrocardiogram (ECG) tests
- undertake venepuncture, urine analysis, collection and sending of samples and swabs for culture, ankle brachial pressure measurements, blood capillary glucose monitoring, bladder scanning, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation monitoring
- maintain computer records
Assistant practitioner - nuclear medicine
- undertake a range of routine whole body, dynamic and tomographic diagnostic imaging procedures using a gamma camera
- position the patient appropriately, select appropriate scan protocols and acquire images
- prepare standard image output displays
- assist senior staff in the labelling, checking and administration of radiopharmaceuticals
- communicate information to patients and obtain relevant clinical history prior to the commencement of the imaging procedure
- perform routine quality control and cleaning of equipment
- assist in the management of radioactive waste
Assistant practitioner - district nursing
- working as part of a district nursing team providing health promotion and health education to adults and their families
- assisting in identifying health needs of patients and participating in the delivery and evaluation of care provided under the indirect supervision of a registered nurse
- programmes of health education and health promotion include smoking cessation, diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle
- maintaining accurate, clear and concise records and communicating information to members of the team as necessary
- maintaining and ordering stocks of equipment
- providing a safe environment for the management of patients and protection of staff and visitors
Assistant practitioner - podiatry
- working within a podiatry service, provide basic foot care after assessment by a registered podiatrist and undertake delegated clerical duties
- preparing environments and resources, during and after clinical activities, maintaining a safe and clean environment
- assessing the condition and risk status of the feet of an individual with diabetes and discussing the results of the examination with the individual and/or carer and explain any specific problems(s), which may require further tests or treatment and implement these referrals
- Provide basic clinical foot care after assessment by a podiatrist including nail cutting
- applying dressings, providing foot health education, foot wear advice and foot hygiene advice
Assistant Practitioner - radiography
- perform general radiographic duties, under the supervision of a qualified radiographer
- undertake all practical aspects of radiography, including referring to exposure charts
- positioning of patients to obtain standard images, film type selection, processing of film images and assessing all images with a qualified radiographer to ensure they reach the required standard
- Know how to obtain images with an immobile or uncooperative patient
- undertake fluorography, examinations such as Barium Enemas and meals, acting under the instruction of a radiologist or radiographer
- Work with seriously ill patients and those at the end of their lives, communicating with their relatives and carers
- use highly complex, highly expensive x-ray equipment in a way that will not cause harm to self or others
- give patients instructions regarding changes prior to investigation and assist them to change if necessary
- communicate with patients on a regular basis regarding appointments, time delays and queries, and liase with professional staff as necessary
Working as parrt of a team will be common in most assistant practitioner roles.
Where assistant practitioners work
Assistant practitioners work in a range of locations, including community settings (such as clinics, patients' own homes, G.P. surgeries) and hospitals (such as in wards, pathology laboratories, accident and emergency departments, medical physics departments etc).
Depending upon the role and the nature of the work, assistant practitioners may be expected to work shifts.
Entry requirements will vary, depending on the post and level of responsibility.
For some posts, assistant practitioners may need an NVQ III qualification and care experience. For others, they may need a BTEC higher diploma or foundation degree in a subject relevant to their area of work (e.g. science or health and social care). Details of the exact requirements will appear in the person specification for each job vacancy, as advertised on the NHS Jobs website.
It may be a requirement to have had experience of working with people - typically in a healthcare setting - and applicants who have worked as health care assistants or support workers, will often have developed the skills and attributes to apply for assistant or trainee assistant practitioner posts.
Some posts will require a driving licence.
Assistant practitioners will typically study towards a foundation degree, or BTEC higher national diploma level qualification, on a part-time basis whilst working.
Employers may provide support to those working towards a qualification, but this should be clarified with the employer directly.
Pay for assistant practitioners
Assistant practitioners will normally be paid on Band 4 of the Agenda for Change pay system but this will be dependent on the actual content of the job role. Trainee assistant practitioner posts will normally be paid on Band 3. For actual pay rates, click here.
Details of pay for individual job vacancies appear in job advertisements on the NHS Jobs website for details.
Staff can progress through the levels of the NHS career framework by developing skills and competences through learning and development. You can read more about the career framework by clicking here.
Assistant practitioners may be given the opportunity to progress onto further training, such as secondment onto a pre-registration programme, with support from their employing NHS organisation.
Seconded assistant practitioners would usually study part-time for a programme in occupational therapy, one of the branches of nursing (adult, children's, mental health or learning disability), physiotherapy, radiography, speech and language therapy or podiatry.
Successful completion of pre-registration training provides the opportunity for movement up through the career framework and Agenda for Change pay scales. For example, newly qualified nurses commence on Band 5 of Agenda for Change.
Alternatively, assistant practitioners not wanting to develop their career in an upward direction, may be able to gain additional experience and responsibility by broadening their existing role and remain at Band 4 of the career framework.
Assistant practitioners will be expected to maintain their knowledge and skills through continuous professional development (CPD). This might involve attending courses or seminars, for example.
Individual professional bodies may have information about the role of assistant practitioners. Use the links below for the relevant bodies
For information about specific roles, visit NHS Jobs.