- 10 January 2022
- 8 min read
The Challenges Of Being A GP Nurse
Considering a career as a Practice Nurse? Debbie is here to tell you about the challenges she faced as a Newly Registered GP Nurse.
Topics Covered In This Article
Hello, my name is Debbie and I am a newly qualified Practice Nurse.
Today I'm going to be talking about my journey into becoming a Practice Nurse, what it's like being a Practice Nurse and advice that I would give to myself, my past self and anyone who would like to be a Practice Nurse.
Where To Begin?
Once I had a lot of information on the various types of Nurses, I decided to find out how can I become a Nurse in the shortest time possible.
So, I decided to do a Masters in Nursing, which is a two year course, as long as I had the clinical experience in my university, they wanted 500 hours of clinical experience, which I did have because I was a Healthcare Assistant for a year and a half.
And after becoming a Healthcare Assistant, I wanted a more non-clinical role.
So, I decided to become a medical secretary.
And this was just for six months because I wanted that experience, knowing well that I would find myself in either Practice Nursing, or a role that involves quite a lot of non-clinical skills also.
And so becoming a medical secretary really helped me.
I was able to use computer software that is beneficial for me now in Practice Nursing,
Life As A Practice Nurse
What is it like being a Practice Nurse? I absolutely love it.
And how I see my role is ensuring those who are in the community have a safe place and a place whereby they are able to manage their condition, whether it's a long-term condition, a short-term condition, any condition that they have, we are able to help manage it.
The things that I get up to in a day-to-day basis are baby immunizations, smear tests, B12 injections, dressing wounds, diabetic checks, asthma checks, and so much more.
And that's what I love about my role, being able to have a variety of people walk through the door and helping them.
My journey into nursing wasn't the most conventional, straight out of A levels journey.
I studied biomedical science as a first degree and realized I wanted a patient facing in role.
Discovering New Roles
I became a Healthcare Assistant in an outpatient setting where I was able to see various roles, various Nursing roles that I'd never known of before.
I'd always known of the bedside Nurse, the ward Nurse, which is an amazing role.
However, I did not know of roles such as Practice Nursing, Prison Nursing, School Nurses, ANPs, clinical Nurse specialists, diabetic Nurse, just various types of Nurses that I did not know about and working in the outpatient setting was perfect for me to be exposed to these various roles.
What Challenges Were Faced?
With that being said, I am going to share some personal challenges that I've had to face whilst being a newly qualified Practice Nurse.
Number one, the new skills that are learnt within a GP setting.
I say this because I personally feel that our universities teach us to the best of their ability, how to become Nurses within a setting, unless you attended a GP placement, which I did not have the opportunity to do.
You will not know how to do various skills, such as smear tests, contraceptive education, baby immunization.
These are skills where you have to go on additional courses to do, which is completely fine.
And just like hospital Nurses, where you'd have to go on IV courses or respiratory courses, various courses that you may have to do to top up your skills.
So this is something that I have found quite challenging.
Whilst trying to do what I do know how to do, I'm still having to learn all over it. Number two, not being able to have a GP placement.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I did not have the opportunity to have a long stretch of a GP placement.
I did have a community placement where I was able to ask my mentor if I could spend one day with a GP Nurse, which proved so effective, I put it on my CV.
And I think that's one thing that helped me get the job that I have today.
I wasn't able to experience what it's like to be a GP practice in the full length of a placement, however, I think what I was able to observe in the one day that I spent in a GP practice was more than enough to confirm that this is what I wanted to do.
However, getting to the job newly qualified, not knowing what it's like to be a GP Practice Nurse was quite challenging.
Number three, the time frame given to each patient.
I think this is something that within GP land, many people find quite difficult, especially as a newly qualified Nurse or GP.
It is hard to come to terms with the fact that you've got five, ten minutes with one patient and this can prove very challenging, but it really helps me with my time management.
And it helps me become a lot more organized.
For example, what I do at the beginning of each of my clinics is I make sure I run through the list of patients that I have that day.
That way, I'm more prepared and more organized.
Number four, the number of staff within a GP setting is very different to the hospital.
Within a hospital setting, you would find a charge Nurse, a senior sister, matron, various Doctors on different levels, F1, F2s and so on, various Healthcare Professionals, other Nurses.
Whereas in my GP practice, there are two Nurses and one Healthcare Assistant and a few other Doctors and a Pharmacist.
This makes reaching out with help quite difficult because everybody has their clinic to run.
I am fortunate to be part of a practice where everybody is so helpful.
However, it can be quite challenging when you have a patient in your room and you need help.
And you're having to make phone calls and wait about five or ten minutes before someone can come and help.
However, this is something that is really helping me because as I listen to what my mentor Nurse is saying, it's helping me to understand what I can possibly say if that situation was to come up.
And lastly, as a newly qualified Nurse, the expectations that I have on myself are quite high.
I think because I studied Nursing as a Master's degree, I felt like I would know a lot more than what I do at the moment.
But GP Nursing is a place where you're constantly learning, constantly growing and constantly helping others and others helping you, and in such a setting it's so perfect and conducive to grow in.
And this is something that I am having to learn and tell myself that it's okay not to know something.
And it's okay to tell your patients that I don't know, but I will find out this information for you.
Words Of Advice
So, advice that I would give to my past self is relax.
Everybody is there to help you.
And I think I didn't expect to be part of such an amazing and helpful team.
And I didn't expect to always have help on hand.
You know, something that my mentor has always shown me is that her door is a revolving door, meaning that I can come in and ask her, you know, sometimes I struggle with taking bloods and I would knock on her door and she would be there in a second, helping me, showing me, you know, to fill a little deeper, to do it this way and to do it that way.
And I think that has really, really put me at so much ease and really lowered my expectations of myself and allowed myself to just grow.
Another thing that I would tell myself is that it's okay not to know everything.
And that's something that I'm really, you know, pushing forward and try my best to come to terms with.
If you are considering becoming a practice Nurse, I would say do it, reach out to other practice Nurses.
And if you've only spent one day within a GP practice or a few hours, throw it on your CV, talk about it in an interview, you know, sell the skills that you do have.
Like I said, I never did a GP placement, but the one day that I did do, I put it on my CV, I spoke about it in the interview.
I spoke about my passion for diabetes and the courseworks, some posters that I've done concerning topics that are related to GP Practice Nursing. And I just sold the skills that I do have.
I think a lot of the times people think, "oh, I don't have enough skills, I can't do smears. I can't do this, I can't do that." But they forget about the skills that they do have.
And there are so many skills like taking bloods, blood pressure readings, ECG, being able to do a urine analysis, small things like that that that are still essential within a GP setting.
I hope this video was helpful to everyone.