“I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about student nurse placements in primary care. However, I feel that primary care placements should be so valued as they are unlike any other placement, allowing students to work 1 on 1 with many different healthcare professionals. My placement in primary care was amazing. By far the one of the most valuable experiences I had as a student nurse. It is completely different to placement in secondary care, so I feel that it is very important for student nurses to experience both. I think that a lot of people have the misconception that within general practice students just observe and get bored, that could not be further from the truth I found that I gained more and was able to practice more skills in primary care than anywhere else. There are a lot of skills that you don’t get to complete or experience in secondary care that you do in primary care, it’s much more hands on than people think. Primary care is an amazing part of the healthcare system, and it is so interesting as a student to see how primary care works as you get to see patients right from being babies till the end of their lives. The relationships between healthcare professionals and patients in primary care are like no other and it is amazing to see. From my experience of working in primary care I found that it is like being part of a family with lots of different healthcare professionals coming together and supporting each other. As a student I was made to feel part of the team, which was so lovely and I felt so supported, my knowledge and confidence really grew. I have honestly never felt so supported in my time as a student nurse than when I was on placement in primary care, I could not be a bigger advocate for students to be placed in primary care. I found that within primary care every member of staff is approachable, and many members of staff love to teach so not only do you get knowledge and skills from your nurse mentor but also from everyone else in the team including doctors, physicians associates, physiotherapists etc. As practice nursing is so generalised you get to learn so much about so many different aspects of healthcare it is not just one specialised area so the knowledge is vast and feels unlimited.
Having a placement in primary care helped me more than I can put into words with my journey to becoming a GPN. The placement gave me experience that you cannot get anywhere else and this helped to further my passion for primary care. When interviewing for a GPN career it is essential that you know the role of a GPN well and to show that you understand how primary care works. There is no better way to get this understanding than having a placement in primary care. In my interview I referenced my time in primary care as a student a vast amount showing how much I had learnt and gained from that placement. Prior to having the placement in primary care I would not have had half of the knowledge and understanding that I did from having the placement and so I feel that without this placement I may not be where I am today.
As a student nurse I also took part in the introduction to general practice module that was offered at university. This happened to run along my placement in general practice and therefore worked really well to consolidate my learning. Many of the educators on this module are nurse educators at the south Yorkshire training hub and they are an amazing group of educators that are very friendly and amazing at giving students an insight into primary care. As these nurse educators work for the south Yorkshire primary care training hub they were fantastic at giving students tips and knowledge of how to get into primary care upon qualification. I feel very grateful that I had the chance to get to know these nurse educators as a student and now as a newly qualified nurse on the VTS programme have them teaching me and supporting me in my career as a future GPN. I feel that this has made my transition from student to newly qualified a lot less nerve wracking as I know the team that I am being supported by and know how amazing they are.
I feel that student nurses benefit their host practices massively as I found that healthcare professionals really enjoy having students within primary care. I feel that students benefit practices by bringing staff together, within primary care a lot of professionals spend a lot of time on their own with patients, students get to experience how multiple members of staff work and notice differences between professionals which may have not been noticed before and start discussions with healthcare professionals on how these different methods can work well for different patients and different types of appointments. Once students have an understanding of how things work they can be a great help within practices being an extra person that can help in emergency situations and helping comfort patients etc. These experiences are very useful for students as well as the practice. I also feel that teaching students can help healthcare professionals as it helps to keep healthcare professionals knowledgeable and teaching others is shown to benefit the teachers also in consolidating their knowledge and keep their practice up to date.”
This nurse had their their final placement in a GP practice in Doncaster and are now employed by Primary Care Doncaster on our current Nurse VTS programme (October 2023)