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RCN credentialing: Assessing advanced level practice

As the RCN’s new scheme to offer accreditation for advanced nurse practitioners gathers pace, Lynne Pearce talks to project manager Nick Paterson about how nurses with the relevant skills can become paid assessors.

As the RCN’s new scheme to offer accreditation for advanced nurse practitioners gathers pace, Lynne Pearce talks to project manager Nick Paterson about how nurses with the relevant skills can become paid assessors


Applicants for the role of assessor need sound knowledge and experience
of advanced level practice. Picture: Getty

The RCN has so far recruited 16 assessors for the next stage of its credentialing programme – the early adopter phase – which runs until April. The scheme is then expected to launch fully, and may require further recruitment.

‘Depending on whether demand is high, we will start recruiting again,’ says the RCN’s project manager Nick Paterson.

Assessors are independent and paid a daily rate of £250, with an expectation that around five assessments will be completed in a day. There has already been a great deal of interest. ‘We’ve had no problems recruiting,’ says Mr Paterson. ‘Although we have had to reject some applicants as they didn’t fit our person specification.’

Essential qualifications for assessors include a Master’s degree in nursing or a health-related field, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration and a recognised teaching qualification.

Communication skills 

While applicants need sound knowledge and experience of advanced level practice, they aren’t expected to meet the same criteria as those who are seeking credentialing, which is open to all nurses who can demonstrate they are working at an advanced level.

Other qualities include the ability to work flexibly. ‘We anticipate that being an assessor will work around one or two other roles,’ says Mr Paterson. Good written and verbal communication skills are also crucial, especially in giving detailed and constructive feedback to those who aren’t successful in their credentialing application.

‘Those who don’t pass need to know why, and what they can do to get to the level they need to be at,’ says Mr Paterson. ‘It’s important that we provide support to those who aren’t quite there yet.’

Alongside financial benefits, assessors are invited to attend one or two free continuing professional development days every year, run by the RCN at its London headquarters and including accreditation reviewers and associate consultants.

‘It’s a chance to network, be brought up to speed with what’s happening at the college, share views and take part in professional development,’ explains Mr Paterson.

Large pool 

Newly-appointed assessors receive an information pack about their role, and the RCN’s credentialing team are on hand to provide continuing support and help resolve any teething problems. Those currently working as assessors will be moderated.

‘We want quality assurance to make sure all the assessments are pitched at the same level and the right people are getting through, following the criteria we’ve set,’ says Mr Paterson. ‘It also gives the assessor some feedback on how they are doing.’

Having a large pool of assessors will be key to the scheme’s success, Mr Paterson believes. ‘It’s vital so that we can meet our service level agreement with those who are applying for credentialing,’ he says. ‘There will be peaks and troughs, but even when we’re busy, we need to be able to respond to people in a set time. Customer service is number one.’ 

To find out more about credentialing click here


Lynne Pearce is a freelance health writer

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