Practice Nurse Jobs – What Skills Do You Need?
The role of a nurse is ever-changing in its scope and capacity. From fast-paced hospital wards to high-pressure theatres, there are countless environments in which the qualified nurse can work and thrive. One of the most longstanding forms of nursing is that of the practice nurse.
Practice nurses work in GP surgeries, and while this nursing role is one with a high level of public interaction, many new practice nurses are actually unaware of the level of diversity this job brings.
If you’re a nurse exploring the range of practice nurse jobs currently available, this article will take you through what a practice nurse is, what duties they are expected to perform and what their average day looks like.
What is a practice nurse?
Put simply, a practice nurse is a nurse who is based in a GP surgery. Practice nurses make up an essential element of the primary healthcare team, which usually includes doctors, pharmacists and nutritionists. Practice nurses are a key point of contact for patients who require a range of support, from general healthcare checks to chronic disease management and emergency care.
As a practice nurse, you may work either as the sole nurse in a smaller surgery, or if you are working in a larger practice, you may be one of several practice nurses sharing responsibilities. In this position, there are a range of daily and one-off duties that nurses are responsible for. As NHS Health Careers explains, this can include:
- Taking blood samples
- Conducting electrocardiograms (ECGs)
- Managing minor and complex wounds
- Travel health advice and vaccinations
- Child immunisations
- Family planning & women’s health services
- Men’s health screenings
- Sexual health services
- Smoking cessation support
Today, general practice nurses are able to diagnose and prescribe medicines and treatments for a range of conditions, from minor skin ailments to ongoing chronic illnesses and emergency care. This requires general practice nurses to be widely informed, experienced and engaged in quick decision making and constant research of the latest developments in nursing practice and healthcare solutions.
How to become a practice nurse
In order to become a practice nurse, you must be qualified and registered within the disciplines of either adult nursing, paediatric nursing, mental health or learning disabilities. This involves studying for a nursing degree and subsequently working as a ward nurse or nurse in a hospital for several years. This provides the experience and breadth of knowledge needed to suitably treat patients independently.
Any good practice nurse will be adept at dealing with patients from a whole range of backgrounds, whether they be vulnerable elderly patients, patients with mental health conditions or children. Therefore, you must be an excellent communicator and demonstrate compassion and professionalism in every aspect of your work.
Practice nurse jobs also require further training and education, which may occur either prior to a job offer or after being appointed as part of your employment terms. In some cases, you may also be asked to demonstrate experience in specific sectors, such as chronic illness management or health advocacy.
How does a day as a practice nurse look?
As a practice nurse, the mornings are usually the busiest period of the day. Whilst appointments are intended to be ten minutes long, nurses often have more patients to fit in than this would allow, making time-keeping skills especially important for a practice nurse.
Whilst the early morning appointments can usually be prepared for in advance, some of the urgent last-minute appointments may be somewhat more impromptu. Patients may require urgent screenings such as ECGs, whereas others may require wound dressings or emergency contraception. Between appointments, practice nurses can expect to be kept busy doing blood or urine tests.
However, the afternoon often slows down in pace. Now, you may be able to provide longer appointments and talk with patients in detail about their needs, which often relate to chronic disease management. There are also various activities that practice nurses are required to perform to help the surgery comply with national healthcare campaigns.
Afternoon surgeries may also involve elements such as the travel clinic, cytology and childhood immunisations. Many practice nurses complete split shifts, working throughout the morning, having a few hours off and returning to assist patients throughout the afternoon and evening.
Of course, all of this will vary depending on the surgery you work and the needs of the GPs you support. However, what every general practice nurse can be sure of is that no two days will be the same. This keeps the role interesting and rewarding for even the most ambitious nurse.
Holistic health support
One of the most integral aspects of working as a general practice nurse is their role in providing holistic health support to patients. This means not only diagnosing their ailments and prescribing treatment but empowering them to take the necessary steps to achieve wellness in all areas of their life.
This may include signposting patients or referring them to more specialist services, discussing lifestyle changes, or helping them to manage their conditions and medications from day to day. In this regard, the practice nurse is able to help patients make informed decisions about their own health, whether that be through supporting them in quitting smoking, or being involved in patient advocacy, for example.
Research and learning to secure practice nurse jobs
A practice nurse never stops learning. To be successful in this area, it is important to stay up to date with the latest developments across the various fields of medicine and healthcare. To achieve this, much of your spare working time will be spent researching the latest treatments and research in certain conditions, as well as staying abreast of the latest professional discussions in the industry.
Reading nursing blogs and using other tools like the Nursco App are a brilliant place to find helpful resources to help you stay one step ahead. In doing so, you can pass fundamental information on to patients and coworkers, establishing yourself as an informed practice nurse, dedicated to providing the highest standards of health and welfare in the community.
To find out more about becoming a general practice nurse, or to see how you could make the career fit around your lifestyle, contact us today on 020 3954 1917. You can also explore the wealth of resources contained in the Nursco Lounge and download the Nursco App to make applying for the latest practice nurse jobs quick and easy.