What the apprenticeship is

The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship (RNDA) will give you a chance to study for a qualification that will enable you to become a registered nurse. Both adult nursing and mental health nursing will be available.

What’s in it for you

The scheme will give you the opportunity to study for a nursing degree and qualify as a nurse whilst being paid a starting salary of over £17,000 with no tuition fees to pay.



What we need

  • To apply for a RNDA, you will need to be aged 18 or over at the start of the programme, have GCSE in English and Maths at level C or above (or equivalent) and have A levels or equivalent level of study to a minimum of 96 UCAS points.

  • We welcome applications from Year 13 students, but offers will be conditional on A-level results. We also welcome applications from people who have the required academic qualifications but have been out of education for a while.

Unfortunately, for this particular scheme, applications will not be accepted from those who are already working in clinical healthcare roles. However, we are supporting current staff to become nurses through alternative initiatives and encourage anyone looking to do this to talk to their line manager or contact us for more information.

Find out what grades and qualifications make UCAS tariff points using the UCAS tariff calculator.


Image provided by Solent University, Southampton.


Specifics of the role


In your first year of study you will be paid a salary of over £17,000, and after successful completion of year one this will rise in the second year of programme.


Full time, 37.5 hours per week.


The course will combine university study alongside working as an apprentice on the wards or in another healthcare setting in Dorset.

This means you could be placed in any of Dorset’s acute hospitals (Royal Bournemouth, Poole Hospital or Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester), within Dorset Healthcare in a community hospital, a mental health or learning disability service or in general practice or a care home.

We will ask you to state a preference for your main base of work however you should be prepared to work anywhere in Dorset and will be expected to move around different services and sites for placements to gain a full range of experiences.


The four-year course will start in September 2019 and will be provided by either Solent University in Southampton or through The Open University.



The type of person we are looking for

We are looking for people who care about people and their wellbeing and want to make a difference.

You may be thinking about what to do after school and want a fulfilling career and professional qualification.

You may be thinking about going to university but are concerned about the costs.

Or you could be someone who has been out of education for a while but always dreamed of being a nurse and are thinking about a career change.

Our Nurses

Our nurses

Meet some of our nurses

“Knowing that I am working towards becoming a mental health nurse is something I am very excited about.”

Read more about Michael

“If you had told me four years ago that I would be retraining as a mental health nurse I wouldn’t have believed you!”

Read more about Lori

“I really want to champion dementia care specifically in the future. With an ever ageing population and diagnoses on the rise, more specially trained nurses than ever are so badly needed to make a difference to some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Read more about Nicki

“This apprenticeship has allowed me to continue to receive a salary which is important as I would be unable to finance this myself.”

Read more about Rebecca

“With support from my managers and colleagues, and great communication from the Learning and Development Department, I was able to apply for the apprenticeship route.”

Read more about Anna

“I remember the day I received the call clearly, asking me to be part of the nursing team and offering me a place on the RDNA program. I feel honoured to be on this journey and am grateful for the opportunity.”

Read more about Jen



Information events

Our most recent information event was at Royal Bournemouth Hospital on Thursday 28 March 2019.

With the help of our friends at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, we were pleased to be able to live stream the event.

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Applications now closed

Applications are now CLOSED. We will be shortlisting over the next few weeks and successful applicants will be invited to an interview in May 2019.


Frequently asked questions

Nurses work as part of a team and provide direct patient care. They work in a variety of settings, including hospital wards, operating theatres, clinics, doctors’ surgeries and patients’ homes. Nurse apprentices will work in a main place of work, undertake study and also have a variety of clinical placements during their apprenticeship.

This particular apprenticeship is not available to people already working in clinical roles, however we are supporting existing staff to develop and offer several apprenticeships in the NHS that are for current staff only. We already have some Nurse Apprenticeships studying and working in Dorset who were in clinical roles. We also have Trainee Nursing Associate opportunities available for existing staff.  We are really keen to support people and we would suggest talking to someone in your organisation or email us to find out more about opportunities available.

Dorset is offering two fields of nurse training as an apprenticeship – mental health nursing and adult nursing.

Dorset is offering two fields of nurse training as an apprenticeship – mental health nursing and adult nursing.

Yes, the nursing degree apprenticeship will enable people to train to become a Graduate Registered Nurse through an apprentice route.  This will be exactly the same degree as anyone attending university full time.  It is the way that this degree is delivered that is different as apprentices will be based in the work place as well as studying with a university.

Apprentices will be released by their employer to study part-time with a university and will train in a range of practice placement settings. Apprentices will study with a university that is a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved education provider and will be expected to achieve the same standards as any other student nurse.

Depending on the specialism the degree awarded upon successful completion will be either a BSc (Honours) Adult Nursing or BSc (Honours) Mental Health Nursing.

Registered Nurse Degree Apprentices won’t have to pay tuition fees.  The cost of the apprenticeship will be paid by employers.

Applications and interviews will be a part of determining who is successful in gaining an apprenticeship within a health organisation in Dorset.  It is expected that there will be more applicants than places available and so a full recruitment and selection process will take place across Dorset.

Yes, all apprentices will be based in a main place of work, which could change throughout the apprenticeship programme.  In addition to this place of work apprentices will have placements over the four years which will be in a variety of settings.  These may be for a day or two a week or blocks over the years of the course.  Placements will be in Dorset, however, apprentices will need to travel to these places of work and the length and days of shifts could vary.  Successful applicants applying to this apprenticeship programme can request a particular area to be based in however there is no guarantee where apprentices will be based for their main place of work or on placements.

Those successful in applying for an apprenticeship will study with Solent University (Southampton) or with The Open University for Mental Health Nursing.  In general, study release will be one day a week.

The apprenticeship is a fulltime role which is 37.5hours a week in the NHS.  During the apprenticeship there will be a requirement to experience essential all round care to meet patient needs.  Part of the apprenticeship work in a healthcare role could include a variety of shift patterns and at may include day or night shifts and weekends and bank holidays.

Yes, in general Nurse Apprentices will wear the uniform linked to where they are studying, however in a few clinical settings uniforms are not worn and nurses wear their own clothes.  In the case where a uniform is not worn a dress code will still be in place.  The organisation that employs the apprentice will provide the uniform.

In general the nurse apprenticeship is four years long, assuming that all areas are successfully completed on time.  However, in addition to the degree an apprentice undertakes an End Point Assessment which will take place at the end of the four years.  Once the degree has successfully been completed nurses apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for a PIN number in order to be able to practice as a registered nurse.

In a few cases there may be some accreditation for previous relevant study which may mean apprentices could be able to complete the nurse apprenticeship in a shorter time. However, this cohort of apprentices is specifically for those who are not in a current clinical role.  Any previous relevant study will be discussed on an individual basis if invited to interview and the University will need to decide if any transfer of study is relevant to the nurse apprenticeship.

There is no upper age limit to start a nurse apprenticeship. It is expected that those who are applying straight from school or college would be 18 by the start of the programme in September 2019.  Potential applicants with their 18th birthday in September 2019 are still eligible to apply.

At the start of the apprenticeship programme, new apprentices will be paid a Band 2 salary.  Upon successfully completing the first year pay will progress to Band 3 salary.  A Band 2 starting salary is currently £17,460.

Qualified nurses can undertake nursing roles in both primary and secondary care in many areas of work and in many clinical areas.  We will expect our apprentices to remain working in Dorset after they have qualified as a nurse for a period of time.  With further experience, future careers can include advanced practice nursing, nurse education and mentoring, and healthcare management, such as ward sister or lead nurse.

No, not as a direct route through this apprenticeship, however adult nurses can go on to undertake further study after having experience as a nurse to specialise in one of these areas and mental health nurses can also move into the health visiting in time.

We do have specialist learning disability services in Dorset and within many clinical areas apprentices may gain some experience of working with someone with a learning disability.  It is possible apprentices may be placed in a learning disability team at some point over the apprenticeship programme.  Learning disability services do employ mental health nurses. If individuals are interested in learning disability nursing please do email us via the website.

Our Dorset Nursing Degree Apprenticeships will be available to commence in September 2019

Yes, full time staff joining the NHS are entitled to 27 paid annual leave days per year and an average of 8 public holidays. All annual leave will need to be agreed through the line manager and taken within specific times of the apprenticeship programme. (for example; not during placement time).  There may be requirement to work on some public holidays with leave taken at an alternative time. Any prior booked leave should be discussed if invited to interview.

Yes, there are a number of staff benefits open to NHS employees including; pensions, staff discount at certain outlets, access to some corporate memberships, student discount card for apprentices and many more.

Contact us

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us and we will get back to you as soon as we can. 

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