A Guide to Studying the CertHE in Healthcare Nursing Support Worker

Healthcare Support Worker course

Here are the most frequently asked questions about the CertHE in Healthcare Nursing Support Worker.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Joanne Smith, the course leader, or speak to us at the next Open Evening.


Why should I do this HCSW course? 
To develop your knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to support you in your current and future roles. This course offers you a wonderful opportunity to study at University and experience the ethos of University life. As the course is part time and delivered predominantly at a distance, you can continue working whilst enjoying studying and applying newly acquired knowledge and skills to practice. The assessment of clinical practice learning outcomes endorses the excellent practice many of you are already achieving, whilst allowing for personal and professional growth and development.

This HCSW course also offers a unique opportunity to apply to progress into Year Two of the BN (Hons) Nursing degree (all fields of practice including adult, child, mental health and learning disabilities) as the course has been mapped to year one of the current All Wales Nursing Programme.

What are the differences between this and an NVQ?
This HCSW course offers you the opportunity to study the underpinning theory to support and develop you in your current and future practice. This newly acquired knowledge can then be applied to your clinical practice and will support you in achieving the clinical practice learning outcomes, which are a key part of the course. The academic study skills and confidence in your ability to study successfully at higher education level will develop throughout the course and will equip you for further studies. 

NVQ qualifications require you to find evidence from your current practice to enable you to demonstrate achievement of a specific competency. There is very little, if any, underpinning theory to support and develop your practice.

What do I need to achieve on the course to be eligible to apply for one of the nursing degrees?
To be able to apply for one of the nursing degrees, you need to have successfully completed this two year part time course, having passed all assessments in each of the modules studied and to have achieved clinical competence in all practice learning outcomes.

In addition, you need to have demonstrated your ongoing weekly engagement in course content and attend all University timetabled face-to-face study days. The assessment of professional attitude is a key part of your clinical assessment and the required standards have to be met.

Do I need approval from anyone to apply for this course?
Applicants need to secure the consent and support of their line manager to apply for this course and have access to a registered nurse trained mentor (NMC approved). It is also well worthwhile attending an Open Evening to find out more about the course and discuss individual roles and responsibilities against the course criteria to ensure clinical outcomes can be met.

How much does it cost?
Your employer/Health Board may fund the course for you. There is also an opportunity to fund it yourself, providing you meet the required criteria for access to a trained mentor, and the cost for this is £600 per 20 credits. There are 120 credits that make up the course (60 Year One and 60 Year Two).

How many places are available?
Currently we recruit approximately 60 plus students per intake from across Wales, working for both University Health Boards and the Independent Sector. Therefore at any one time we have an estimated 120 healthcare support worker students studying with us at the University of South Wales (Years One and Two).  

What kind of people do the course?
Current students come from a variety of clinical backgrounds but all are working as healthcare support workers (in a variety of roles) supporting the registered nursing role. Current students, both male and female, range in age from early 20s to mid 50s and work in a variety of care settings, including the hospital, community, general practice, nursing homes and prison.  

Who will I be taught by?
A team of experienced, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and supportive nursing lecturers will teach you on this course and will support you as personal tutors and academic supervisors.

Are there any exams?
The only exam-type assessments are a Life Science (anatomy and physiology) test for adult field students only in Year Two of the course, and a Safe Medicate online assessment (involving numeracy skills) for all students in the final consolidation module 

Is there a dissertation?
There is no dissertation on this course. Students who progress onto the BN (Hons) Nursing course (following successful completion of this course) will be required to write a dissertation in the final year.