The Role Of The General Practice Nurse

As most of you may know, I’m very passionate about primary care nursing. My previous placement within a general practice confirmed that primary care is where the rest of my career will lie.

Many people still think that you need so many years experience to become a general practice nurse and this is a myth. For those of you who don’t already know, as part of the GPN 10 point plan set out by NHS England, there is a huge campaign to make general practice nursing a first choice career path for newly qualified nurses. To back this evidence, student nurses within the Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (NHFT) were put into placement pathways for their management placements within the GP setting. Results showed that “80% of students completing the new third year pathway have been successfully recruited into a community post” (NHS England 2018)

Not only this, but you can work within general practice no matter what field of nursing you are in: adult, child, mental health and learning disabilities. Please take a look at this at NHS Health Careers where you can find more information on this.

During my time on my general practice placement, I worked alongside the most wonderful practice nurse who really showed me what life was like in the shoes of a general practice nurse (GPN). And she wore those shoes with pride, like Dorothy’s red slippers glittering in the light.

I felt at home

There are so many misconceptions that GPN is somewhere to retire to? My assumption is, people don’t actually realise how much a GPN truly does on a daily basis.

*Disclaimer alert* Every area and every clinic is different. Some nurses will specialise in certain areas and other nurses will be able to do it all. But here is a list of some of marvellous things that my mentor did:

  • Hypertension clinics
  • Diabetes clinics
  • Asthma clinics
  • Travel vaccines
  • Flu vaccines
  • Baby vaccines
  • ECG’s
  • Minor surgery setting up and assisting with the doctor (such as toe nail and wart removals).
  • New patient health checks
  • Blood tests and results
  • Mental health assessment
  • Home visits
  • Smear tests / cytology
  • Sexual health
  • Wound management
  • Leg ulcer dressings and management
  • Health promotion
  • Communicating with mental health services, doctor, receptionist, pharmacist, Phlebotomists, hospitals and other GP surgeries.
  • Calling patients for follow ups and to book their appointments
  • Telephone consultation
  • Falls prevention and assessment

This list may change depending on the clinic you work at.

My mentor did so many things, she honestly wowed me every day. Every day was so varied and completely different to the next. We saw a whole variety of patients which meant my ongoing achievement record (OAR) was all signed off in one day!

The OAR has a section that we must get signed during our 3 years. We have key areas in other fields of nursing that we must complete to qualify:

  1. Learning disabilities
  2. Mental health patients
  3. Children and babies
  4. Pregnant women

I saw all of these in one day, it was fantastic! Such an amazing range. This is another reason I adore general practice, because of the variety of patients you will see.

Having that ability to adapt your skills to each individual is just amazing. My mentor constantly changed how she communicated with each and every person, in a way that they would understand and that was age appropriate for the individual. That in itself is a talent.

I can honestly say, general practice is the most incredible place to work, there is a reason why the general practice nurses have been there for however many years and are now retiring. They simply fell in love with their profession. If you want to know more about what general practice nurses do, ask one. You can also take a look at the twitter page for the GPN student nurse network But be warned, you may fall in love too…

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34 years old and finally achieving my dream of becoming a nurse.

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