- 15 February 2021
- 8 min read
Why You Should Consider Starting Your Nursing Career In Primary Care As A Practice Nurse
- Laura Bosworth
- Aubrey Hollebon
- Mat Martin
- Richard Gill
- Haroon Diwan
- Tshepang Eva Komanyana
- Ifeoma Onu
Practice Nursing - isn't that for retiring Nurses? Having embraced Practice Nursing at the thriving age of 21, I can confirm this myth is far from the truth. Graduating with a first class honours in Adult Nursing in 2018, I chose to embark my career in the unusual field of Primary Care. Read on to find out if this career course might also be for you too...
Topics Covered In This Article
So Why Practice Nursing?
Traditionally, new Nurses secure their jobs on the wards.
But what about the small minority of us who know our careers don’t belong in secondary care?
I knew nursing was definitely my passion, but I also knew my heart didn’t long to work in a hospital setting from my very first year.
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My decision was led by having built a therapeutic relationship with my Practice Nurse as I was diagnosed with asthma at a very young age.
An Outline Of The Role Of A Practice Nurse
Some of you may not have come across the role of a Practice Nurse and must be wondering what our role is.
An area I consider niche, practice nurses are also the foundation of healthcare. Our role involves chronic disease management, prevention and education.
Someone once described us as the motor of a watch; it may not be physically visible on the outside but without the intricate details which form the foundation of function, the watch cannot work.
Working for a GP family practice means naturally we have the privilege to build long term relationships with our patients that root a tad deeper.
Patients feel more confident and safer to return to the same nurse/s as we know their history over a prolonged time.
And believe me - you will remember them despite the 1000s of patients you come across in a year!
Another Myth Buster
There are countless benefits working as a Practice Nurse and for sure I’ll share a couple.
Unlike other countries, we have to choose to study a specific branch of Nursing when applying to university in the UK; Adult, Child, Learning Disability, or Mental Health.
I was torn between Adult and Children’s Nursing but Adult Nursing was the path destined for me as I felt there are more opportunities I could branch out into post qualification.
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Do you have any questions for Yusra?
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But one of the blessings with Practice Nursing is working with all fields!
And the best bit is you can actually apply from any field of practice.
When I was expressing my interest in Practice Nursing, a few of my Nursing peers passed comments about it being ‘boring’ and I’d be ‘losing skills’.
Another myth buster here – guess what? NOT true.
The second pro I’ll mention is being incredibly proud to be able to say I wouldn’t have the opportunity of gaining and practicing the knowledge and skills I currently have had I applied elsewhere down the common route.
You Don't Need To Work On Wards First
Traditionally, the route into Practice Nursing was only by having ward experience – which is still encouraged. Reason?
To have experience as a foundation.
But let me just mention I know Practice Nurses (both adult and children’s field of practice) who had to learn abundant new skills that they didn’t cover in their previous ten years of Nursing.
You Will Learn New Things In Practice Nursing
We also learn about various medical conditions through our Practice Nursing skills.
For example, our service is inclusive of phlebotomy.
On the requesting form, the GP will state the clinical reason for the blood test and which test will be required.
I’ve picked up on several new conditions and researched into how a specific blood test can aid in diagnosing a condition.
From INR testing, I’ve come across heart conditions which I had never heard of like Rheumatic Heart Disease.
Also, having qualified in taking smears (cervical screening), I learnt more about a woman’s anatomy and conditions than I did as a student; vaginal atrophy, vaginal prolapse, CIN I, II and III, colposcopy procedures such as the LLETZ and the list goes on.
Our knowledge and abilities are never limited to manual blood pressures or ‘just taking bloods’.
I began to share my journey and the things I learn on Instagram @lifeofapracticeNurse_ where following qualified Nurses have also learned new things from!
Well, How Do I Do It?
Securing a career in Practice Nursing as a newly qualified Nurse IS possible!
I can’t emphasise enough not to force yourself to work in an area which you won’t enjoy.
It will make the experience unpleasant which isn’t what we want after 3 tough years of university.
You’re now probably thinking, but how do I go around it?
The question is if you want something, you’d do anything to fight for it right?
Okay not literally fight in this case.
But what I do mean is you would express your passion.
In this case, you can do this by researching into the role of Practice Nursing and the issues that primary care face to start increasing your awareness into a field you wish to pursue.
Also consider: what contribution you can bring into Practice Nursing to maintain and improve the quality of service?
This doesn’t mean grabbing your laptop at the end of your degree when you start to apply for vacancies.
You can start exploring current topics around primary care as a student; my dissertation was based on a topic that heavily involves the influence of a Practice Nurse.
I explored the disadvantage that the BAME community face with regards to delayed cancer diagnoses resulting in early mortality rates.
I witness this first hand as I work for a community whom a large percentage of do not read, write or speak English.
Practice Nurses hold a pivotal role in combating the barriers to ensure there is an increased uptake of cancer screening services within this community.
This requires patient education and awareness as patients from the BAME community may not have heard of this service previously or understand its importance before.
This could potentially save a life!
You can also liaise with your placement team to secure a GP surgery-based placement that exposes you to the primary care environment to confirm this is the route that intrigues you the most.
I did request a placement in a GP based setting in my first year however was unsuccessful.
I had to individually speak to a (wonderful) lady from DMU’s placement team who could see my vivid passion for my career destination.
After all, university life focuses on the independent life!
Any Sacrifices During My Journey To Become A Practice Nurse?
Going back and forth with the placement team in my own time over several weeks paid off as I secured one of my two placements of third year in the largest GP practice in the UK.
Although generally entry into Practice Nursing is becoming easier as years go by, my journey was tough.
My primary care based placement of my choice meant sacrificing my time as I had to catch a train 5 times a week.
This was difficult as it was tiring and took more of my time whilst researching and writing up my dissertation.
The struggle was heavier on a personal note as I’m naturally better at exams. Not to mention, my peers had secured their jobs in secondary care in March of our final year.
I secured mine at the very end of the degree months later in September.
There were moments where I’d lose a touch of hope but I stuck to what I knew was best for me.
Despite it being a tough journey, I do not have an ounce of regret.
This was just a brief overview. I intend to go into the finer details in the coming future.
I hope you enjoyed the read and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by commenting below!