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General Practice Nursing – The Hidden Opportunities

By 15th June 2020 No Comments

Queen’s Nurse Kim Ball writes about the career that opened up to her once she became a General Practice Nurse.

General practice nursing as a career is hugely understated; throughout my nurse training the ethos was that newly qualified nurses should start their career in secondary care in order to develop skills and experience, and that practice nursing was a job for those with many years of experience or those nearing retirement.

After I qualified, I secured a job on a Burns Unit, not only did we work on the ward but we also ran an outpatient adult burns clinic. I absolutely loved my job especially working in the clinic, unfortunately the closure of my local hospital meant a longer commute and 12-hour shifts and with a young family I found this increasingly difficult.

I saw a job advertised for a general practice nurse (GPN). I didn’t fully meet the criteria but must have been feeling particularly brave that day and applied anyway. I was successful at interview and felt incredibly honoured to have been given the opportunity.

New Skills

When I started I knew I had made the right decision; there was however a lot of training to undertake, which made me think back to the idea that newly qualified nurses should gain skills and experience in secondary care before working in the community.

My knowledge of wounds proved especially useful in those first months; however clinical skills and knowledge in primary care are very different from those required in secondary care and are not always transferrable.

Within the first 12 months of working as a GPN I had undertaken all the usual skills training and had completed a post graduate course in Asthma Care. During my second year as a GPN, our practice had a restructure which meant they were recruiting for a Lead Nurse – again feeling ever so brave I applied.

Educator Role

I have now been in post as the lead nurse for around 3 ½ years. In addition to this post I work as a general practice nurse educator (GPNE). I have lectured at my local university and delivered training for my local medical committee.

I feel extremely passionate about general practice nursing and continued professional development. I have now undertaken post graduate training in asthma, diabetes and prescribing. I am also currently undertaking training in clinical assessment and diagnosis and for my GPNE role I am currently enrolled on a Post Graduate Certificate – Teaching and Learning for Health Professionals.

GPNs are currently in short supply with many expected to retire in the coming years. In my GPNE role, I plan to work on delivering the GPN 10Point Plan, providing a two-year fellowship programme for newly qualified nurses. I want others to see GPN as a first point career choice, recognising the potential for opportunities within general practice and nurse education. With structured quality assured training, peer to peer and mentorship support, I hope to be able to offer nurses the opportunity to map their own career.

Kim Ball QN, Lead Nurse, Cadbury Heath Healthcare