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Assessment of higher level practice in nursing: an exploration of the support required by practice assessorsNurse education is continually adapting to meet the requirements of employers to develop increasingly autonomous practitioners who can provide evidence-based, high quality care. The work-based project examines the support available to mentors, known as practice teachers, in their role as assessors of nursing students in higher level practice. A qualitative study: the project employs a grounded theory approach to the analysis of data elicited from practice teachers and academics. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups alongside regular reviews of the literature are utilised to elicit data, and via an inductive process, categories emerging from the analysis are constructed to present new insights and understanding of the subject under scrutiny. Whilst it is clear that a degree of support is available to practice teachers in response to a rudimentary understanding of their role in higher level practice, it is also clear that this support is limited by a number of factors. The product of practice assessment for the employer is a newly-qualified practitioner who is able to carry out a role based on a specified set of competencies. For the educator, whether within the higher education institution or in practice, the process of education is ongoing; producing a practitioner with the capability to utilise higher level practice in ever-changing contexts and situations. Support for the practice teacher can only be enhanced if recognition of the role is promoted. This requires a shared understanding of the importance of developing both competence and capability for higher level practice. Only then will the vital contribution made by the practice teacher in the student’s development be understood by those supporting them. Converging rather than competing philosophies of training for competence and educating for capability are necessary to maintain the status and commitment of the practice teacher and consequently the rigour required of assessment in practice.