Career advice

'The autonomy of my role in primary care keeps me on my toes'

Practice nurse Paula Cannon, who works at the Nelson Medical Practice in Wimbledon, discusses her career in primary care – where she found unlimited oppurtunities on offer for recent graduate nurses

Practice nurse Paula Cannon, who works at the Nelson Medical Practice in Wimbledon, discusses her career in primary care – where she found unlimited opportunities on offer for recent graduate nurses

I started my nursing degree in 2014, throughout the three years a majority of my placements were ward based. I quickly realised the ward environment wasn’t for me. I became tired of the repetitive routine, rushed tasks and heavy workload. During some shifts it was difficult to give the level of care your patients deserve due to time and workload, this left me frustrated and feeling burnt out at the end of my shifts. I wanted a job somewhere I could get to know my patients and give them the level of care I feel they deserve.

I qualified in the summer of 2017 and decided to go straight into general practice. It allows you to build that crucial relationship with patients and you really feel like you’re making a difference.

Second guessing yourself

The jump from student to an autonomous clinician was daunting. As a student you always have someone to turn to and ask questions. In general practice it’s just you and the patient in the room, if you have any queries you need to leave the room and hope someone is free or interrupt their consultation to get clarification. On the wards an elevated blood pressure with a systolic above 140mmHg needed reporting, in the practice I found myself constantly needing to go and find a doctor to get a second opinion on raised blood pressures.

I’m fortunate that I have a great team around me who are supportive and happy to help me with any concerns or questions I might have. The doctors and nurses have discussed hypertension management with me and we now have a clear protocol to follow. This enabled me to feel more confident with helping patients to manage their blood pressure.

Variety is the spice of life

I love the variety of general practice, no two days or two clinics are the same. I also enjoy chatting to the patients and getting to know more about them and their lives, you hear some amazing stories. The hours and shifts are more social than those you get while working on the wards, where I found it difficult to strike up a good work/life balance. I now feel as though I do get enough time for myself, friends and family. Although it was a big jump at first, I now enjoy the autonomy of my role, it keeps me on my toes.

'I am yet to be exposed to all that primary care has to offer'

Due to the variety and the constant evolving role in general practice there are so many career paths available. I am yet to be exposed to all that primary care has to offer and I am therefore open to my career goals changing. I have quite a strong interest in diabetes and would love to go on and specialise in this area.

I have been lucky enough to be able to sit in on diabetic clinics at my practice, and learn more about how the condition is managed. After a discussion with one of the GPs we agreed to look out for any training opportunities that arise to further my knowledge. Once I have few years of experience, I aim to start a prescribing course – this will allow me to access further career opportunities.

However, I plan to undergo as much training as possible to further my scope of knowledge and skills. General practice has been a perfect fit for me and I would highly recommend it as a career path to anyone.

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