I started my nursing career slightly later. I was 24 and working in business having studied business studies after school. I lived in London and travelled a lot, but I didn’t feel 100% satisfied with my career. It was a family friend, who was a nurse, who inspired me to go into nursing and so in 1992 I began my nursing studies at University College Hospitals (UCH) with the belief that I wanted to try and make a difference to peoples’ lives.
I’ve been a general practice nurse for 15 years and I’ve been in my current job for 18 months. Prior to that I worked in secondary care: urology, A&E and Intensive Care.
As a practice nurse, I see all types of medical conditions. I work in a busy, fast paced practice which looks after approximately11,000 patients. Currently, I am the lead nurse for asthma, but I also run the hypertension clinic and I am a nurse prescriber. I’m also qualified in diabetes, travel medicine and run my own clinics which incorporate everything from wound care to baby immunisations, contraception advice, cervical screening and much more.
Positive patient feedback…
Helen asked me if I have had any patient feedback recently. I had one patient who gave some great positive feedback as during a routine blood pressure check, I suspected she had atrial fibrillation (AF) – she was sent into hospital for further investigations and now feels much better. And that encapsulates a lot of what general practice nursing is about; we see patients who come in with one presenting problem and it turns out there are other medical issues/concerns that need investigating. Most of us have a lot of experience behind us which helps.
Nurse led group sessions
However, we are always learning and updating our skills or looking at new ways of working. Just recently, my practice has decided to run nurse led group sessions for teenagers with asthma. Research shows that this group of patients are more receptive to their peers and get encouragement through each other as opposed to a nurse or GP advising them what to do during a one-on-one consultation – we are going to focus on inhaler technique and take it from there.
Life long learners
In nursing we are life long learners and we have to be flexible. My advice to anyone wanting to enter the profession is that nursing can be what you want it to be – it’s what you make it and you can specialise and take many paths to have a fulfilling career. And the bonus, especially with GP nursing, is that it can fit around your family!
I have great job satisfaction in that it is a privilege to help people feel better and healthier. The care general practice nurses give is often holistic and we do make a difference to patients’ lives. I often find that some patients ‘open up’ during a consultation which is a good thing – nurses are there to talk to! And that is my advice to patients. No problem is too small. We are always there to help and if not through face to face consultations, over the phone. We are also in touch with other specialist nurses whether through direct patient referral or for advice. Communication is key. From an informative point of view, in my place of work, we have a regular newsletter for patients with everything in it that we feel helpful. In addition, we have a dedicated volunteer run service for help in the community.
My surgery is incredibly proactive for the good of the patient and I feel supported, but I know that’s not always the case and with recent cuts in bursaries and salaries, it’s hard. Nowadays a lot of families need two salaries so nurses should not be exempt from pay increases. We are professionals and we have trained hard to get where we are so we should be recognised accordingly, like any other profession.
That aside, nursing is incredibly rewarding – we need more of us so if you feel passionate about good care and making a difference – do it!
Finally, I love being a nurse because: I meet other like minded professionals who share knowledge and work together to improve the lives of our patients – oh and I’ve had a few laughs along the way!