Nursing students' experiences of working as healthcare support workers

Sheila Cameron*, Ben Parkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Preregistration nursing students frequently seek employment as healthcare support workers (HCSWs). However, little is known about their experience of alternating between these two roles.

Aim: To explore the experiences of preregistration nursing students working as healthcare support workers.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three preregistration nursing students working part-time as HCSWs in the NHS. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Findings: Analysis of the interview data produced the overarching theme of ‘walking the tightrope’. The overarching theme contained four subthemes: ‘preparing to get on the tightrope’; ‘balancing on the tightrope’; ‘having the stamina to stay on the tightrope’; and ‘preparing to get off the tightrope’.

Conclusion: Nursing students gained experience and confidence while working as HCSWs, but were challenged by the limitations and demands of the role.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11892
Number of pages6
JournalNursing Standard
Issue number5
Early online date17 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2023


  • career pathways
  • education
  • healthcare assistants
  • interprofessional learning
  • nursing students
  • professional
  • professional development
  • qualitative research
  • research
  • students
  • student nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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