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Inspiring new nurses to go into general practice

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Dr Crystal Oldman Dr Crystal Oldman

I am inspired to see and hear about the work going on across the UK to promote community and primary care as an excellent place to work for newly qualified nurses. The early indications of the career outcomes are really positive.

Many of the examples I have learned about were highlighted in 2016, when the QNI was commissioned by Health Education England to undertake a project exploring examples of good practice and innovation in supporting student nurses on practice placements in the community and primary care.

In doing this work, the QNI also explored the barriers to expanding placement experiences and how these may be overcome.

There were fabulous examples of university programmes that provided a full simulation of delivering care to patients, families and carers in their homes, with the realistic challenges that nurses face in this care environment.

The results of the project were shared at the QNI conference in 2016 and inspired many delegates to explore the potential to replicate the innovations in their own areas.

The project also identified the potential for more practice placements in the private, voluntary and independent sectors, including residential and nursing homes.

In many areas, general practice has been supported to develop a range of student nurse placements, with the support of practice learning facilitators across a locality.

With the large number of general practice nurses (GPN) retiring over the next four years, there is an incentive to ‘grow’ the next generation of nurses while they are students and inspire them to serve their community as a GPN when they qualify.

Student nurses find the opportunity to learn and develop clinical skills in the community and in primary care to be very satisfying, because of the one to one learning from their mentor in peoples’ homes.

It is the opposite of what many students actually anticipate before starting their placement. A student nurse expressed this in a QNI blog.

She wrote: ‘I discovered a service struggling to balance their patients’ needs with their caseload restrictions.’ (

In relation to this, later this year, the QNI will be publishing the next in our series of Transition resources: Transition to Care Home Practice.

These free, online resources are aimed at supporting nurses who are new to the environment of care and are frequently used by students to support their learning when on placement.

Please share to inspire the students in your area of practice here:

Dr Crystal Oldman is chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

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I am currently training as a GPN after qualifying as an adult nurse last year. I thoroughly enjoy practice nursing and I am receiving much support from everyone at my practice. My mentor is a remarkable role model and mentor and I aim to become a mentor in the future. When I was completing my degree I knew I wanted to work as a practice nurse but was continually told I had to have a few years experience on the wards in acute settings first. By my final year I found two lecturers who suggested I can follow my goal and supported me to find a GP surgery placement for my elective placement at the end of year 3. This experience was outstanding and it influenced me to not go into acute nursing but to look for an opportunity to train which I found in London. From my personal experience I think nursing programmes need to promote general practice nursing from year 1. Clinical placements must become part of the norm. Am certain there could be a lot more student nurses interested in general practice but they need to be reassured that they can train as a newly quallied nurse and it is a wonderful and rewarding area to work in.
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Fabulous to get the national profile. We have developed a regional network in Northern Ireland to support professional development and discussion forums aswell as training needs analysis .events are planned for may and June. Visit the PHA website or the Facebook page GPNNI for more information .
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