Career advice

'People think practice nursing is solitary but I'm part of a team of exceptional clinicians'

Fay Codona explains how a placement in her final year led her to join Carlisle Healthcare in Cumbria, and why the choice to become a practice nurse was the right career route for her

Fay Codona explains how a placement in her final year led her to join Carlisle Healthcare in Cumbria, and why the choice to become a practice nurse was the right career route for her


Picture: iStock

During a placement in general practice in my final year of training, I decided that practice nursing was the direction I wanted to take my career in. I enjoyed the variety of work and the opportunity to practice diverse skills in an environment that offered more support than is often experienced in a hospital setting. I let my mentor and management know that I was interested and I was later interviewed and offered a position at the same practice.

I started as a healthcare assistant (HCA) in August 2017, while I was waiting for my nursing registration, so that I could gain more practical experience and to provide a foundation for my future role. 

Venepuncture clinic

As venepuncture is one of the key skills performed by HCAs in general practice, I was quickly enrolled in an accredited online course and in-house training was delivered. After some extended appointments, supervised by my manager, I went straight into running a drop-in venepuncture clinic. 

The organisation I work for is a large one, consisting of amalgamated practices across five sites. Some days I would see as many as 40 patients for venepuncture in a two-hour window – a daunting task, my colleagues assured me, even for a highly experienced nurse. 

My manager was at the end of the phone to help and other staff members did their best to ease the load for me, but as an inexperienced practitioner, it became a struggle to cope. Some days I did not feel I was able to handle the demands placed on me. Management listened to my concerns and worked with me to find ways to ease the load. 

Asking for help

Despite my initial struggles, I quickly developed confidence in venepuncture and adept time management skills. My more experienced colleagues have been supportive in helping me to manage my time and it is reassuring to know that we all have days where things do not go to plan. 

As a nurse at any stage in your career, it is never discreditable to say, 'I'm not coping today'

Instead of internalising this or blaming myself on occasions when I was running late, as I had previously done, I now talk through situations with my colleagues or ask them for help with my clinic list. 

Learning to vocalise my struggles has been invaluable to my professional wellbeing, and it works both ways; colleagues come to me for support too and this has taught me that, as a nurse at any stage in your career, it is never discreditable to say, 'I'm not coping today'. 

Variety and development

I began my supernumerary practice nurse induction on 2 October 2017, beginning my own clinics as a practice nurse on 23 October 2017. While at the practice I have had many opportunities for development. I have been on training courses on diabetes, as well as adult and paediatric immunisation, and I will shortly be embarking on a continuing professional development course in leg ulcer management. 

This is one of the elements that makes practice nursing an enticing career choice for the graduate nurse who is already in 'study mode'. I have found these training courses easier to digest and manage due to my recent degree experience and attending a study day provides diversity in the clinical working week. 

I would encourage graduate nurses who seek variety, challenging work and professional development to seriously consider a career in practice nursing. 

It is easy to assume that practice nursing is a solitary role, where you are hidden away in a consulting room and isolated from your colleagues. However, I feel I am part of a dedicated team of exceptional clinicians. I never feel that I am alone or unsupported and that was my biggest fear as a graduate nurse.

Practice nursing is really focussed on team work and, although I work through my clinics autonomously, we ultimately work as part of a multidisciplinary team. 


About the author

Fay Codona is a practice nurse at Carlisle Healthcare in Carlisle, Cumbria

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