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We need to keep up momentum

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General practice needs more placements for nurses General practice needs more placements for nurses

Nursing in general practice has developed enormously over the last three decades. When I first started working more than 30 years ago, there were few nurses working in general practice.

Today it is rare to find a practice without a nurse as part of the team. We now seek to understand the patient’s needs and match those to the most appropriately skilled clinician. Having come so far in establishing nursing in primary care in a relatively short space of time, we need to keep up the momentum to attract more nurses to work in general practice.

This can be done through securing more placements for student nurses and supporting their learning with a high- quality learning environment and motivated mentors.

We also need nurse tutors in universities to make general practice nursing a part of their everyday narrative. With their backing, it can become a mainstream placement and ‘normalised’ as a first destination on qualifying.

The QNI recently received by Health Education England (HEE) to undertake a project to explore the barriers and enablers affecting students undertaking placements in primary care and community settings. Areas of excellent practice were examined and the findings will be published by HEE in the autumn, along with the recommendations for practice.

The outcomes will align well with the work of NHS England, where the current concern with attracting more doctors into general practice is now coupled with the challenge of attracting new members of the wider team, including nurses.

One group well suited to a career in general practice are those nurses considering returning to work after a break for maternity or other caring responsibilities. Still holding a valid nurse registration, they may be seeking a flexible role in their local community with ‘family friendly’ hours. They may know little about the opportunity that general practice offers but can find out more with the online learning resource developed and launched by the QNI this year.

The QNI is also working with the Royal College of General Practitioners to explore a robust model of learning for those returning to the nursing workforce after a period of leave. Joining forces with our GP colleagues is a role model for teams working in general practice and I look forward to a positive outcome for patients, carers and families.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive, Queen’s Nursing Institute

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

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Thank you Crystal for your article. I am currently graduating as an adult nurse and fortunately arranged a placement at a GP practice for my final placement. I absolutely loved it and realise this is the path for my passion for nursing. The university and nursing profession need to change their mindset regarding general practice nursing. i have continually been told i need experience to become a GPN. This role is rarely discussed in nurse education and it is only by chance that i found out that i could shadow a practice nurse for my elective placement. I have since found a trainee GPN programme and have an inrervuew shortly. I am excited about this. My other colleagues went straight into nursing in acute care. Only 4 have followed the district nurse route and just me following the general practice route. I am hoping to be accepted onto the traiming programme and i will endevour to promote general practice as a normal first destination on qualifying. It is a fantastic role that has been neglected somewhat in nursing education. I look forward to reading the QNI and HEE publication in Autumn and hope to be instrumental in the changes needed to attract nurses to primary care.
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What we need is financial investment in General Practice. We need to be able to release experienced practice nurses from some of their duties firstly to studyfor/update their own mentorship skills and secondly to actually have protected time to mentor student nurses and those nurses transitioning from careers in secondary care/returning to nursing. We cannot do it all! This needs to be done NOW BEFORE all of those experienced practice nurses retire - otherwise we have missed the boat for all of those years worth of nursing knowledge to be passed on! There has been no investment, no succession planning, and no student placements with practice nurses for years... and now the chickens are coming home to roost - too little too late! If you want students in general practice then there needs be a significant financial incentive - equal to the payments for mentoring medical students - as having students from any professional background impacts on the running and function of ALL staff members in the practice team. Mentorship training should be mandatory for ALL nurses, on an ongoing basis to prevent this lack of trained mentors happening again.
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