FAQs on the delivery and take-up of Centre endorsed credentials

These key messages and frequently-asked questions (FAQs) explain the Centre’s approach to credentials and accompany the publication of individual Centre-endorsed credential specifications.

The material explains the Centre’s approach to multi-professional advanced practice credentials. It does not relate to other organisations’ approaches to credentials.

Our animation also illustrates our approach.

Key messages

  • The design of Centre-endorsed credential specifications addresses high-priority advanced practice workforce development needs in particular areas of practice.
  • Primarily designed for delivery by higher education institutions (HEIs) as an integral part of their advanced practice education provision.
  • Can be discrete components of learning. For practitioners who have either already achieved an advanced practice MSc or successfully completed the Centre’s eportfolio-route.
  • There is an inevitable lead-in time to HEIs using individual credential specifications to inform the design of their advanced practice education and therefore delivering credentials for take-up by employers and practitioners.  
  • Over time, opportunities to undertake credentials will increase, both in terms of the range of practice areas covered and the numbers of HEIs delivering them.
  • Credentials are not intended to support self-directed/assessed professional development or informal workplace-based learning.
  • More detailed information on the Centre’s approach to credentials is available on the Centre website.    

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What are Credentials?

  • Centre-endorsed credentials are structured components of multi-professional learning and assessment designed to develop advanced practice capability in a particular, high-priority area. They are each defined by a credential specification document that 

    •  Provides a national capability and curriculum framework for delivery by different advanced practice education providers.  
    •  Articulates area-specific capabilities that align with the advanced-level practice capabilities set out in the Multi-professional framework for advanced clinical practice in England.
    •  Has successfully progressed through the Centre for Advancing Practice’s endorsement process. 

    A key component of credential specifications is their strong integration of academic and workplace-based supervision, learning and assessment. This integration is essential for meeting the demands of level 7 learning and advanced practice. 

    Our use of the term ‘credential’ follows its use in the NHS Long-term Plan (2019). We respect that some other organisations (e.g. some professional bodies) use ‘credential’ differently from the Centre. This includes as a verb (rather than as a noun) and in relation to individual practitioners, rather than components of learning. We recognise the importance of being clear about how we do and don’t use the term. 

Credentials: What, why and how?
Engaging with credentials: Why and how?
Planning for credentials delivery

Credentials are designed to meet high-priority workforce development and deployment needs at advanced practice level on a multi-professional basis. This is either in response to an existing workforce need by enabling different approaches to multi-disciplinary team working or to support new models or pathways of care.

Credentials should increase advanced practice capability and capacity in response to population, patient care, system and service delivery needs. They are designed to contribute to workforce transformation and are just one approach to workforce development at advanced practice level.

Each credential is defined by a credential specification document that has been endorsed by the Centre. Centre endorsement means that a credential specification has been independently reviewed and meets the Centre’s endorsement criteria.

Credential specifications will be subject to periodic review to ensure they remain current and responsive to changing population, patient, service and workforce needs.  

We have commissioned and supported the development of credential specifications in a range of high-priority areas. They have been produced by development groups with expertise in the area of their focus. Their development has also been informed by wider stakeholder input, as well as consultation and public and patient involvement.

Credential specifications are being produced in a range of areas to meet population health and patient care needs by developing multi-professional advanced practice capability and capacity. 

The areas in which credential specifications have been developed or are currently in development are listed on the Centre’s website; As documents are finalised as Centre-endorsed credential specifications, they are downloadable from the website by clicking the relevant link.

We have developed and tested arrangements for setting priorities for future new credentials.

Centre-endorsed credentials are designed for delivery by HEIs through their integration as modular content within their advanced practice MSc programmes. 

Some credentials are also appropriate for delivery as standalone modules, specifically for take-up by practitioners who have already successfully completed an advanced practice MSc or who demonstrate the equivalence of this via the Centre’s eportfolio-route.

HEIs need to demonstrate that they have the resources, capacity and expertise to deliver a particular credential fully in line with the relevant Centre-endorsed specification. The Centre has developed standards for approving HEIs’ delivery of credential specifications. These align with the Centre’s standards of education and training for programme accreditation.

Workplace-based supervision, learning and assessment are central components of all Centre-endorsed credentials. Practitioner engagement with each credential must be underpinned by employer support. This includes supervision arrangements to enable practitioners to develop and demonstrate the capabilities defined by a credential safely, effectively and efficiently.   

Individual credential specifications reflect broad expectations of advanced practice workplace-based supervision, as well as specific requirements to ensure safe learner progression in the specific area of practice. In turn, arrangements for assuring the quality of supervision arrangements form a focus of the Centre’s standards for approving HEIs’ credential delivery plans. 

Credentials can be undertaken by regulated health and care practitioners either as an integral part of completing an advanced practice MSc degree or following their successful completion of an advanced practice MSc degree or demonstration of the equivalence of this via the Centre’s eportfolio-route

Each credential specification defines specific requirements that practitioners need to meet to engage with the credential in question. Requirements relate to practitioners’ current scope of practice, job role and practice environment, as well as their professional experience to date. They also relate to employer support and practitioners’ access to workplace-based supervision arrangements. The purpose of the specific requirements is to ensure practitioners’ learning experience will be safe, effective and efficient, with a good prospect of their progression through and successful completion of the credential, and with due planning for how their new advanced practice capability will be deployed.

Credentials are not intended to be used to support practitioners’ self-directed/-assessed professional development or informal workplace-based learning arrangements. They are designed for delivery by HEIs with the requisite expertise and resources and for take-up by practitioners who meet the specified entry criteria and have access to structured support from their employer for their workplace-based supervision and learning.

Credential specifications should help employers and practitioners to consider workforce/professional development needs in a particular area of practice and service delivery. This includes to identify the potential relevance of a credential to meeting defined workforce development needs and to plan for future advanced practice workforce deployment.  

Credentials are designed to support prospective workforce development. Any use of a credential specification to identify potential evidence of specific capabilities must be in accordance with workplace-based supervision and assessment arrangements and wider governance arrangements for advanced practice. Any recognition of prior learning (RPL) on subsequent engagement with a credential would be at the discretion of the individual HEI delivering the credential and in line with their RPL academic regulations.

HEIs need time to consider whether they can and want to deliver a credential and how they need to develop their existing provision to do this. In addition to then taking their plans through their own quality assurance arrangements, they will need to engage with the Centre’s arrangements for approving their delivery plan. While other education providers may be able to deliver credentials in the future, HEIs will be best placed to progress their delivery in the shorter-term.

The Centre is putting arrangements in place to build collective trust and confidence in the quality and comparability of credentials’ delivery. It will consider HEIs’ plans to deliver individual credentials for approval and periodic review against its standards for this purpose. Arrangements will align with existing ones for Centre programme accreditation.

The Centre will provide information on HEIs that gain Centre approval to deliver credentials via its website in due course.

There are a range of ways in which practitioners’ take-up of a credential could be funded. In addition to employer support (e.g. through the Integrated Degree Apprenticeship for Advanced Clinical Practitioner at Level 7), this should include via annual funding support arrangements run through the regional faculties for advancing practice, once credentials’ availability can be factored into these processes. 

The Centre is liaising with stakeholders to support and promote credential delivery and take-up through a planned, collaborative approach. Over time, Centre-endorsed credentials should be fully integrated with annual funding rounds for advanced practice education and workforce development.

The Centre is progressing the use of digital badges. Practitioners who successfully complete a Centre-endorsed credential via a Centre-approved provider (either as an integral part of an advanced practice MSc or following their successful completion of this) will in the future be eligible to receive a digital badge.

A digital badge will carry authenticated data on practitioners’ successful completion of a credential as a component of learning. This will support information-sharing with third parties (e.g., employers).