THINKING ABOUT A CAREER IN GP NURSING?
PREPARING TO START A GP PLACEMENT?
This blog can help!
We have teamed up with newly-qualified nurse Jack,* one of Health Education England’s GPN Ready Scheme nurses, to find out exactly what it is like to make the move from nursing student straight to GP nurse!
Every week, we will be hearing from Jack* and finding out about his week in General Practice. For this first blog post, we will be finding out some background information about him and his journey into practice nursing.
*name has been changed for confidentiality purposes
Hi Jack, congratulations on your new job as a practice nurse and welcome to the Primary Care Works team! Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
I have always had a passion for caring since a young age, which has led me to a career in nursing. At the age of 22, I have studied healthcare at college and university, leading me to full time work in the nursing profession. As an only child, I spent a lot of time with my late grandmother, who was a carer for the elderly and taught me many of the morals I live by today.
In my spare time, I love to fill my day with walks in the countryside, with my toy poodle Mario. One of my biggest addictions is sparkly items; I am like a magpie building a nest! My house is a reflection of my personality, with many sparkly items which I cherish.
Where are you from?
I’m from God’s own country of Yorkshire! I attended Barnsley College, then Sheffield Hallam University, which was conveniently closer. I now live in Sheffield and commute daily to my place of work, about 20 miles away.
What made you want to be a nurse? What did you want to be when you were younger?
Since I can remember, I always wanted to be a nurse. Whenever I played fancy dress with my friends, I’d always be the nurse. When I was ten, my grandmother fell very ill and I spent time with her and my mum, who cared for her until her last day. My gran always inspired me to be great; schoolteachers would say that I could never be a nurse, so I made it my purpose to prove them wrong.
I have enjoyed proving my teachers wrong; one in particular was a patient of mine, which made me feel extremely proud.
What was your route into GP nursing?
After attending secondary school and achieving good GCSE grades, I progressed to Barnsley College to study a Health & Social Care Extended Diploma (Level 3), completing the course with the highest grade of distinction star. During this time, I volunteered at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield to support the elderly on various wards. Whilst at Barnsley College, I was a student representative, giving voices to students studying health care courses. I enjoyed being part of the feedback process, as it helped to develop courses and gave me an insight into teaching, which is something that interests me.
I then applied for Adult nursing at university and chose Sheffield Hallam, as it gave me better opportunities for work experience, which I felt was key to being a nurse. I decided to apply for a health care agency position, which mean that I would gain further experience and skills whilst doing my studies. I found this very helpful with progressing my knowledge and understanding of the different nursing positions. My favourite work was in general practice; I trained in blood sampling and cannulation so that I could work as a locum phlebotomist in general practice. This drove my desire for a practice nurse position.
Upon finishing university with a first class degree, I am now working in general practice doing what I love the most. The practice has enrolled me on a preceptorship course at the University of Sheffield as part of the GPN Ready Scheme for nurses new to general practice. The course will give me more knowledge and skills for working in general practice, setting me up for a career as a practice nurse.
Why did you choose GP nursing over working in hospital?
Throughout my placements, I loved working on the frontline in emergency medicine, however in my second year I had a community placement, in which I spent time with the Practice Nurse. Ever since that moment, I sought out every opportunity to work in general practice. I enjoyed supporting patients and developing professional relationships, as well as looking at health promotion and preventative alternative medication. This approach to care helps reduce admissions and ultimately admissions to our ever-strained hospital services.
Getting to know patients is something I enjoy, as I can alter my care appropriately to meet the needs of the local patients. Primary Care is the way forward and I feel that as a male nurse, I am able to empathise and promote male physical and mental health, as men can find it hard to discuss their issues with a female nurse. I have found my calling in practice nursing and through the support of my family, colleagues and peers I’ve been given the opportunity to do something that I am truly passionate about.
What advice would you give to nursing students considering a GP career?
Nursing students should seek out as many opportunities as possible; never say no! It’s a lot of hard work and dedication to study, attend placements and work additional hours, but I did it and got to where I am now because of it. It’s key to gain the additional skills and experience, as practice nursing requires a wide spectrum of skills and knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; many health care staff appreciate it when you ask them for help and will happily guide you. Ensure that you thank those that do help you, as it will go a long way.
If practice nursing is where you see yourself, write to practices and ask if you can do some work experience outside of your main academic studies. It’s important to expose yourself to many different nursing roles, to ensure that it’s what you really want to do. I found my calling by getting out there, trying everything and never saying no to an opportunity.
You are quite new to GP nursing; what has been the most valuable advice that you have been given so far?
The most valuable information is every piece of information that you are ever given; “Everybody that you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.”
It’s key to accept any new idea and evaluate it to your own working methods. I find that working in general practice and my various other jobs, there are different ways of doing things and some healthcare professionals will have different approaches to a particular issue.
You should always listen to your patients and pay attention to the smallest of details, as that small detail can be really important to the care of your patient.
What do you think is the biggest misconception that students have about working in General Practice?
When I told my peers that I wanted to work in general practice, many of them had the misconception that it’s a “sit around doing nothing” sort of job. Others would speculate that it was a dead-end job; that only older nurses go into general practice. As a male nurse, my cohort was a majority of female nurses and they believed that the role wasn’t suitable for a male, due to the types of responsibilities that I would have. This is quite the contrary.
I get involved in all aspects of general practice and enjoy it more than I had imagined; it has always been my passion and will continue to be. I don’t sit around drinking tea all day, as has been speculated! I have my own clinics, with regular patients to whom I’m able to offer many services. I have received so much support from my new colleagues, aided by additional training, which allows me to offer all the qualities of a newly developing practice nurse.
What are your career ambitions for the future? Do you have a plan in mind and how do you hope to achieve it?
I am ambitious as always and my focus is to become a qualified Advanced Nurse Practitioner, with various other skills and qualifications in between.
When I took on the job as a practice nurse, I made it clear that I wanted to achieve these ambitions and the practice has been very supportive. I have a five-year action plan to undertake various courses, to reach the end goal. The courses include Mentorship training (to work with student nurses and grow my interest in teaching,) training in minor illnesses, training to become an independent prescriber and the final goal is to qualify as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner.