• 17 April 2020
  • 5 min read

Why I would recommend General Practice Nursing jobs and Primary Care over other specialities

  • Teresa Turpin
    Practice Nurse Lead
"I love it for so many reasons, but overall I love it because I get to care for three, often four generations of patient families."

Practice Nurse Lead, Teresa Turpin, outlines her broad role in GP nursing, and describes why she would endorse it to up-and-coming nurses.

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

A typical day in General Practice Nursing

What are General Practice Nurses paid?

What transferable skills does a GP nurse learn?

Interview tips for Practice nurses

What does the future hold?

Introduction

I became a GPN well over 25 years ago, during the roll out of first wave fundholding.

I worked in a busy surgery in Notting Hill.

I had been working as a night sister and to be honest was looking for something with less anti-social hours, I did go back to oncology a few times however GPN nursing is like a homing pigeon and I always returned to my "home".

My role now is completely unrecognisable to what I did then, I was a basic treatment room nurse of the "see one do one" school of thought.

I love my Practice Nurse job for so many reasons, but overall I love it because I get to care for three, often four generations of patient families, 0-100 years old and it's a wonderful challenge and privilege.

I also enjoy the mix of health prevention, screening and promotion as well as the continuing care of those already diagnosed with chronic conditions.

A typical day in General Practice Nursing

A typical day for me is a morning clinic with a mix of consultations, chronic disease management and review, immunisations, cytology, contraception...

I then return emails, texts and phone calls from patients.

We have embraced digital communication at our surgery and it works really well.

I usually have a meeting or two, maybe an appraisal, sometimes a home visit.

I have a short daily meeting with the GPs and PM and the rest of my team.

Then it's on to afternoon clinic and perhaps extended hours.

I usually have a student from the adult nursing branch with me.

What are General Practice Nurses paid?

We are in an unusual position in that we are employed privately by GPs but we are under the rules, regs and standards of the NHS.

This has resulted in a huge disparity between pay and conditions which are generally poorer than our NHS secondary care colleagues, indeed even as GPNs we all have different terms and conditions.

Some GPs are forward thinking, value their nurses and provide good pay, regular pay reviews and are supportive with training etc.

Others, sadly not so much.

It is vital that GPNs are valued as much as any other nurse in the NHS if we are to recruit and retain.

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I am paid well for a GPN and I appreciate my terms and conditions are excellent compared to some of my colleagues.

This is an ongoing issue on recruitment and retention with GPNs who for decades have been undervalued, poorly paid and often not respected as members of the GP team.

The current role of the GPN is pretty much what you make it.

You can advance to APN if you want, the career ladder and salary has improved so much over the last 10 years.

There is also opportunities to specialise in wound management, diabetes, asthma etc.

Leading a team is also possible, there is much more admin involved so be prepared to take that on.

What transferable skills does a GP Nurse learn?

Many nurses have transferable skills, for example, community, cardiac, A&E, pads, oncology.

If you can find a active to support and mentor you, you can then learn the new skills required for GPNs.

Some CCGs provide or do not provide certain services depending on their contracts.

I currently do not deal with wounds as we have dedicated wound clinics, however my last CCG did expect you to carry out dressings.

You will also need a sense of humour, the ability to be a great team player and thrive under pressure.

Interview tips for Practice Nurses

If you are keen then we are keen to recruit you!

There is a unique role for GPNs, it's very much being a voice and contact in the no mans land of hospital to home, you have to have the confidence to be the patient's advocate.

Get to know the roles of PCNs, the purpose of QOF and investigate the training opportunities in your CCG.

You may be working alone, so make sure there is sufficient support in place for you, don't be scared to ask questions and remember that although a surgery is a business, its a place of care first and foremost.

GP land is a whole different role to secondary care, but it's a fabulous and rewarding job.

What does the future hold?

The future although there will be plenty of challenges could be really very promising.

The make up of teams in primary care is rapidly evolving.

Shortages of GPs and GPNs are being addressed with recruitment of other specialists, i.e. - pharmacists and paramedics.

The nursing team is very much a relevant skill mix, HCAs, nursing assistants, all have an important role.

Primary care changes and evolves more quickly than any other nursing speciality I know, you have to be ready to move with it and make it work for you and your patients.

Nurses in training are being encouraged to view GP nursing as a first post, so we need to sell the positives to the students we mentor.

They are future of General Practice Nursing.

About the author

  • Teresa Turpin
    Practice Nurse Lead

I trained at the Royal London Hospital in the mid 80s, and then specialised in haematology, oncology and HIV. I did my adult oncology ENB course at The Royal Marsden Hospital and I worked in the HIV unit at The Westminster Hospital. Every day I draw on every bit of my secondary care experience and use it in my current job. I have worked in primary care both as a community nurse, palliative care nurse and GPN over the last 25 years.

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About the author

  • Teresa Turpin
    Practice Nurse Lead

I trained at the Royal London Hospital in the mid 80s, and then specialised in haematology, oncology and HIV. I did my adult oncology ENB course at The Royal Marsden Hospital and I worked in the HIV unit at The Westminster Hospital. Every day I draw on every bit of my secondary care experience and use it in my current job. I have worked in primary care both as a community nurse, palliative care nurse and GPN over the last 25 years.

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