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Development of a Primary Care Nurse

DEVELOPMENT OF A PRIMARY CARE NURSE

Lifelong learning and adult education has now become an extremely important part of being a Primary Care Nurse. With the introduction of Revalidation for nurses continuing your education is vital.

If you have been away from studying for some time the prospect of CPD and formal learning might seem a little daunting. There are many different methods of learning that you can undertake and a variety of educational options on offer, so chances are you will find one that suits you.

In order to make the learning process more accessible, the General Practice Foundation provides access to a number of useful learning tools.

Nurses are an important part of delivering care in general practice. There has been a huge shift of care from hospitals to general practice, providing nurses with some really exciting career choices.


WORKING AS A GENERAL PRACTICE NURSE

General Practice Nurses work in GP surgeries as part of the primary healthcare team, which might include doctors, pharmacists and dietitians.

Working for a smaller practice might include working on your own. You may be asked to take on many roles and share responsibilities – every practice will be different.

If you work for a larger practice, you might be one of several practice nurses sharing responsibilities and duties.

There are many different aspects of patient care you may become involved in including:

  • Smoking cessation.
  • Child immunisations and advice.
  • Minor and complex wound management including leg ulcers.
  • Sexual health services.
  • Obtaining blood samples.
  • Family planning & women’s health including cervical smears (Cervical Cytology Training – are increasingly becoming mandatory by PCTs and recommended by all cytology laboratories).
  • Men’s health screening.
  • Travel health advice and vaccinations.
  • Electrocardiograms (ECGs) .
  • Mandatory training is required by health & safety legislation such as moving and handling training and fire training.
  • Child Protection Training – All nurses and HCAs working in general practice will require initial and regular updates to ensure that they are kept aware of child protection issues.
  • Annual Basic Life Support training – This is a requirement of QOF for all clinical staff working in general practice.

INDEPENDENT PRESCRIBER TRAINING

Nurses wishing to extend their role to become prescribers will need the support of a GP to be able to become safe and competent as a prescriber. The Department of Health has produced guidance on these courses.

General practice nurses may also have direct supervision of healthcare assistants at the practice.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR GENERAL PRACTICE NURSES

You must be fully qualified and registered as a child, mental health, adult or learning disability nurse in order to work in general practice.

With the emphasis on revalidating your skills every few years you will also need to be willing to undertake further education and training after being appointed. Some practices require specific skills, experience and knowledge from their nurses e.g. health promotion or working with patients with long-term conditions.

It is recommended that registered nurses check with local employers and training providers to see what is on offer.


TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT FOR GENERAL PRACTICE NURSES

To retain your registration to practice with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, you will need to meet their post-registration education and practice (PREP) standards.

More information on the PREP standards is available on the NMC website.


DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN NURSING

Practice nurses who dedicate time to further training and building their experience eventually go on to apply for more senior nursing positions, such as advanced nurse practitioner positions and senior nurse practitioner/practice nurse roles.

Senior nurses enjoy a lot more autonomy in the work they perform and one of their many responsibilities include managing their own caseloads.


THE ROLE OF A GENERAL PRACTICE NURSE

Current policy is increasingly shifting care from hospitals to general practice and Nurses play an important part in delivering that care. This shift also provides nurses with really exciting career choices.

The General Practice Career Framework provides a clear pathway which nurses can use to guide and shape their career within general practice.

A general practice will include staff with a range of different skills from Nurse Partners (level 9) and Advanced Nurse Practitioners (levels 7-8) to Practice Nurses (5-7) and Health Care Assistants (levels 2-4).


FURTHER CAREER DEVELOPMENT

As your education and experience advances practice nurses have an opportunity to apply for senior roles such as Senior Practice Nurse.

To successfully secure a more senior role you’ll usually be trained to a minimum of degree level. Your role spans aspects of nursing and medicine enabling you to treat a patient appropriately. With this in mind, your training needs to include skills such as physical assessment, diagnosis, research and health promotion, safe prescribing and consultation skills.


SENIOR PRACTICE NURSE/NURSE PRACTITIONER

Senior practice nurses use their experience as a practice nurse to focus on aspects of care previously administered by GPs. Your role may include providing preventative healthcare to the local community and working with patients with long term conditions.


ADVANCED NURSE PRACTITIONER

An Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) role includes providing the type of care that a Nurse Practitioner provides including a prescribing qualification and master’s level training.

A qualified ANP is also able to:

  • Prescribe medicines and non-medical treatments.
  • Take a full patient history.
  • Carry out reviews and prescribe for all types of minor illness .
  • Refer patients to an appropriate specialist (in the practice or hospital).
  • Arrange follow up and ongoing management.
  • Carry out any physical examinations.
  • Use their knowledge to identify a likely diagnosis.
  • Request appropriate tests to aid diagnosis (blood tests, x-rays, scans).

Medical staffing are specialists in placing all grades of nurses into different establishments within primary care. For further information on how we can support you through your career – click here to complete our contact form.