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  • 12 June 2023
  • 7 min read

Why Isn’t Practice Nursing A Popular Career Choice?

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    • Richard Gill
    • Ifeoma Igwe-Omoke
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  • 957
“Let's make GP practice nursing popular again, because it's an amazing field of nursing.”

Practice nursing has come to be seen as an unconventional career path for aspiring nurses. Debbie breaks down why this might be and busts common myths about Practice Nurses, as well as advice for getting into the role.

Hello, my name is Debbie and I'm a Practice Nurse in London. Today I'm going to be talking about why GP nursing is not popular.

1) Practice Nursing Is Hard To Get Into

Number one, it is traditionally known that practice nursing is hard to get into, as many people say, and I strongly believe that this is due to the way it's advertised.

Many a times, when you want to look for a job, you go into NHS Jobs as a nurse, but because of the way GP practices are run, they're like a business, so a lot of the roles are not on NHS Jobs, and so this makes it a lot harder to find them.

(You can, however, find GP Nurse job listings on

Some people are having to email practices, or go into the practice directly and give them a CV.

I remember when I was looking for a Practice Nurse role, I emailed the lead nurse of my area asking her if she could put my CV forward, but she turned me down, and said that because I don't have experience in working in a GP practice, she couldn't take me on.

So, it can be very difficult to find a job in practice nursing. If you don't know someone already in the job, or someone didn't recommend it to you or give you the right websites to go to, it can be quite hard. So, this might be one of the reasons why it's not a popular role.

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2) Existing Practice Nurses Stay In Their Roles For A Long Time

Number two; you could say that people tend to stay in their roles for a long time. I'll be honest, I'm in a practice now, and I don't see myself going anywhere else. And this can be a dilemma because, unless someone is retiring, or going on maternity leave, or whatever the case may be, they're just not going to leave their role.

Or if the practice is looking for an additional nurse, which is not always the case, the longevity, or the turnover rather, is very low. I got my role because a nurse was retiring, and it just so happened that another nurse was leaving. So, it's not always that easy to get into because it's like a family, people tend to stay for many years. My colleague, she's been here for about 20 years plus, people just tend not to leave.

3) Student Nurses Are Trained To Be On The Ward

Number three, I would say, which is something I've touched on before, is that as Student Nurses we're generally trained to be Hospital Nurses; we're trained to work on the ward.

A lot of our placement is on the ward, and so we tend not to have the skills to work in a GP practice and, therefore, we feel inadequate to even apply in the first place. We tend to write ourselves off being able to work in a GP practice before we've even tried to apply.

And so that can make it very unpopular because we just feel like there's no point in applying, "I'll go to the ward first, or I'll go to the community, I'll go anywhere else but the GP practice because they're just not going to take me," which is not the right approach to take, or the right mindset, to have towards a role.

I think anybody can go to GP practice right after studying. I've done it, and I know a lot of other nurses that have done it also.

Let's make GP practice nursing popular again, because it's an amazing field of nursing.

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4) Worries Around ‘De-Skilling’

Number four, which is something so popularly said, is de-skilling. People feel like once they go into practice nursing, they're going de-skill, that they're to not going to be able to cannulate, or put a catheter in, or so many other things that they just feel like they're not going to be able to do anymore.

If you care about having those skills in your pocket, then by all means do the roles that will get you those skills. But for me personally, I didn't really see the need or have the desire to want to cannulate or to be able to do a catheter. So, I said “I'll go to a GP practice whereby I can learn other skills.”

And unfortunately, like I said before, we're not trained to have those other skills like smears, or immunizations, and so we feel like any other skill outside of the hospital skills is de-skilling, when really, you're just learning new skills. It's important to just take away the fear of de-skilling and go for a role that you think will benefit you in the long run and that you'll just enjoy.

People love the wards, people love GPs, people love neonatal. I was speaking to a friend the other day about how I couldn't be a Neonatal ITU Nurse, I find that so heartbreaking. Yet a Neonatal Nurse couldn't do a smear because it's like, "That's horrible." So just do what you like and find what you like to do.

But because of everything that I’ve just said, it can be quite an unpopular choice to pick GP nursing simply because you feel like you're going to de-skill and not be able to keep up with the skills that you already might have.

5) Negative Attitudes To Practice Nursing

Another reason why being a GP Nurse is not always popular is because it's so looked down on sometimes.

I remember when I told the nurses in the hospital, and I was still studying and doing my placement, that I wanted to be a practice nurse. It was as if I got these looks, and I got these comments like, "Why are you going to just go and sit down in a practice? And you're going to lose this, and you're going to lose this, and blah, blah, blah."

It was just so looked down and frowned on, and it's like it's almost so unconventional. People can't seem to comprehend, or old-school nurses, let's say, can't seem to comprehend the fact that you can actually go in right after you've studied. So, it can become unpopular.

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Advice For Going Into Practice Nursing

But just my advice to anybody that wants to go into practice nursing, there is room here for everybody. You just need to find the right websites to look for jobs on.

Just make sure that it's something that you like to do. Go on a placement or an outreach just to solidify whether it is your passion, whether you like it or not. It's so interesting that people go on the ward, they work for six months, and then they find out, "Do you know what? I don't like it," and they move on to something else, maybe go to the community.

However, in practice nursing, it's very rare that you'll see someone go into practice nursing for six months, and say "Hey-ho, I don't like it."

But I would encourage that. I would say, "Do you know what? If you think it's your passion or something that you might like, go and do it for a year, or go and do it for six months, see if you like it. If you don't, your PIN is your oyster, you can take it anywhere."

So, I would really encourage that.

Let's make GP practice nursing popular again, because it's an amazing field of nursing.

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About the author

I am a newly qualified GP Nurse in London. After my first degree in Biomedical science, I realised that I wanted a patient facing career, leading me to study nursing as a master’s degree. This is one of the best decisions I’ve made as I am loving my new career and progression prospects.

    • Richard Gill
    • Ifeoma Igwe-Omoke
  • 0
  • 957

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