What is an Advanced Clinical Practitioner?

Find out more about Advanced Practice

At Hallam Medical we are proud of our reputation for being the UK’s leading provider of Advanced Practitioners, Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACP), Emergency Nurse Practitioners (ENP) and Emergency Care Practitioners (ECP).

We supply highly skilled and experienced Advanced Clinical Practitioners to both the NHS and private healthcare providers throughout the UK.

If you are a qualified Clinician and are interested in Advanced Practice and becoming an Advanced Clinical Practitioner then take a look at our handy guide with everything you need to know about Advanced Practice, what is an Advanced Clinical Practitioner, how to become an Advanced Clinical Practitioner and where to find work.

What Is an Advanced Clinical Practitioner?

Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACP) can come from a variety of professional backgrounds including Nursing, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Paramedics, and Occupational Therapy. They are experienced healthcare professionals with a Masters’ Level award or equivalent who have developed their skills and knowledge to take on expanded roles and scopes of patient care.

It is often assumed that Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACP) are all from a Nursing background as the role of the Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) is well known within our NHS and many of us are now being seen and treated by an ANP within our own GP surgery.

However due to increased demand, the scope for the role has grown and developed and the number of different professionals able to become an Advanced Clinical Practitioner reflects this. In today’s modern health service, it is now common to have a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) of Advanced Clinical Practitioners supporting the rest of the medical team.

Health Education England (HEE) along with its multi-disciplinary partners define Advanced Clinical Practice as follows:

“Advanced Clinical Practice is delivered by experienced, registered health and care practitioners. It is a level of practice characterised by a high degree of autonomy and complex decision making. This is underpinned by a master’s level award or equivalent that encompasses the four pillars of clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research, with a demonstration of core capabilities and area-specific clinical competence.”

What Role Does an Advanced Clinical Practitioner Play?

Advanced Clinical Practitioners support clinical care providers to enhance the capacity and capability within multi-professional teams. Their primary roles include improving clinical continuity, providing more patient-focused care. They also help provide safe, accessible, and high-quality patient care.

As stated in the HEE definition: “Advanced Clinical Practice embodies the ability to manage clinical care in partnership with individuals, families and carers. It includes the analysis and synthesis of complex problems across a range of settings, enabling innovative solutions to enhance people’s experience and improve outcomes.” (Source: HEE)

ACPs must develop skills across patient pathways in a range of clinical areas on top of their core clinical specialty. They will have expertise in a specific area but need clinical examination skills and know various diagnostics and treatment options. This will enable them to identify and act upon issues across a range of clinical systems.

Health Education England’s Competencies Framework for Advanced Clinical Practitioners

To ensure consistency across the scope of the role and to ensure that everyone clearly understands it, HEE developed a competency framework. The framework clearly outlines a path into, and through the profession which sets the standard of an ACP’s work expectations. Both Wales and Scotland have advanced clinical practice tool kits and Northern Ireland has a framework. All four resources are broadly similar and should be used to facilitate the transformation of the workforce and support these advanced roles.

How can Advanced Clinical Practitioner Roles (Physiotherapists) Benefit Patients with Neurological Conditions?

ACP roles are continuing to emerge within neurology with an increasing number of Physiotherapists and AHPs taking up the posts. Neuro-physiotherapists hold skills and experience in all four pillars of advanced practice, they know about the patient journey and can assess and treat patients holistically.

Neuro-physiotherapists already hold some of the clinical examination skills required in neurology and musculoskeletal practice but to work as an ACP they must further develop these specialist skills and gain additional generic examination, diagnostic and treatment skills in cardiology, respiratory medicine, abdominal examination and mental health to complement their existing knowledge.

Physiotherapists in these roles can champion the role of rehabilitation using their own skills within every patient interaction, providing a one-stop-shop to enhance the patient experience.

What Does It Take to Become an Advanced Clinical Practitioner?

All registered healthcare professionals are eligible, but most trusts and universities require around five years of clinical experience and a prerequisite of previous Masters’ Level Study.

An MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice requires the completion of 180 credits and may consist of modules that include pathophysiology, clinical examination, project management, non-medical prescribing, clinical reasoning, practitioner competence, research and education modules.

The variety of modules demonstrate the skills required within the four pillars of advanced practice (Health Education England, 2017) and provide a general base of knowledge to create a generic ACP. The specialty skills are learnt within the post.

The four pillars are clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research with the advanced practice framework demonstrating a clinician’s ability to work at an advanced practice level.

What are the Benefits of Becoming an Advanced Clinical Practitioner?

ACPs can bridge gaps within the MDT, bringing professions together as they have the necessary knowledge, skills, training, and qualifications. Other than a pay increase and more responsibilities, the benefits across the board include the following:

  • improved patient journey, better-informed patients and patient-focused care
  •  improvements in the continuity of patient care and in standards of service
  • better communication between patients and the multi-disciplinary team
  • increasing job satisfaction, assisting recruitment and retention and addressing the potential skills gap
  • more flexibility within the team


Did you know Hallam Medical works in partnership with The Association of Advanced Practice Educators (AAPE UK)

The Association of Advanced Practice Educators (AAPE UK) is an influential collaborative network of Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) across the United Kingdom (UK) who provide of advanced clinical practice programmes of education for interprofessional groups.

As the UK’s leading provider of Advanced Practitioners; Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Advanced Clinical Practitioners, Emergency Nurse Practitioners and Emergency Care Practitioners to both our NHS client and private healthcare providers, this partnership is vitally important to us, and helps us to remain at the forefront of best practice.

Working together with this influential organisation strengthens our commitment to ensuring all healthcare professionals are educated to deliver the highest possible care to patients at an advanced level.

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