Clinical placements

From vaccinations to STIs and COPD: the placement for one-to-one patient care

General practice demands a range of clinical skills and, crucially, a person-centred approach

General practice demands a range of clinical skills and, crucially, a person-centred approach

General practice nurses have a hugely influential role in the shift from a reactive to a preventative healthcare model and thats a big part of what drew me to request a placement in a GP surgery.

I am currently on placement in a large medical practice. This is my hub placement for the whole of the second year of my adult nursing degree course and I will be here for 23 weeks.

Public health theory fired my interest in primary care

I first became interested in primary care when I completed a theory module on public health in my first year.

...

General practice demands a range of clinical skills and, crucially, a person-centred approach

Picture: iStock

General practice nurses have a hugely influential role in the shift from a reactive to a preventative healthcare model – and that’s a big part of what drew me to request a placement in a GP surgery.

I am currently on placement in a large medical practice. This is my hub placement for the whole of the second year of my adult nursing degree course and I will be here for 23 weeks.

Public health theory fired my interest in primary care

I first became interested in primary care when I completed a theory module on public health in my first year.

Basing my research on the area where I grew up, I produced a geographical profile and health needs assessment, which really opened my eyes to the health inequalities in the region and the impact this was having on the health of the local population.

Fast forward a year, and my placement is in an area that serves a diverse demographic, with high deprivation as well as pockets of affluence.

‘Witnessing the respect and trust between the professional and the patient, often built up over years, has left me feeling quite emotional at times’

In the four weeks I have been on placement, I have spent time observing the role of several general practice nurses (GPNs), an urgent care practitioner, an advanced nurse practitioner, healthcare assistants, a physiotherapist and a social prescriber, who works for mental health charity Mind and is based at the surgery two days a week.

The time and space for a person-centred approach

GPNs have an autonomous role. Working in their own clinical spaces, they enjoy a one-to-one relationship with their patients, allowing time and space for them to communicate their concerns.

The patient may visit for a specific consultation, but if the conversation highlights a different concern, the GPN will follow this up too, demonstrating an entirely person-centred approach. Witnessing the respect and trust between the professional and the patient, often built up over years, has left me feeling quite emotional at times.

The GPN role is also uniquely broad, with a huge variety in the responsibilities and opportunities to care for patients from cradle to grave. I have always enjoyed the challenge of roles that require adaptability and flexibility – another reason why I am drawn to the GPN role.

The breadth of clinical and interpersonal skills and approaches demonstrated by GPNs every day is truly awe-inspiring.

Breadth of knowledge, skills and patient presentations

I have observed a GPN switch seamlessly from administering a childhood immunisation, where they demonstrated care to the child and offered reassurance to the parent, to removing stitches following an accident. This was followed by a contraceptive procedure, including providing sexual health information with sensitivity and respect, and educating an older patient about how to use an aid to put on compression stockings, while being mindful of exacerbating their chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms.

The medical practice I am with triages incoming calls to ensure each patient is allocated time with the most appropriate clinician. Patients presenting with social issues affecting their health and well-being are booked in with the social prescriber first.

‘Social prescribing is a fantastic example of the benefits that can be achieved by taking a person-centred approach to a patient’s health and well-being’

Social prescribing enables health professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. Learning about the role of the social prescriber, and the services and community groups available in the local area, has been a real highlight to date.

Social prescribing acknowledges the social determinants of health and well-being, and how alternative approaches can help avoid the need for clinical intervention. It is a fantastic example of the benefits which can be achieved by taking a person-centred approach to a patient’s health and well-being.

Placement in a pandemic: a unique view of the GP team spirit

The Fundamentals of General Practice Nursing Programme provides the required foundational training for GPNs, who can have a varied career pathway. There are many opportunities to progress your career, including specialising in conditions such as COPD, diabetes and asthma, along with developmental pathways into areas such as clinical commissioning groups, training hubs and academic positions.

As the role of a GPN is specialist and requires specific training, it is ideal for newly qualified nurses who want to develop their skills and confidence as autonomous practitioners.

Experiencing a GPN placement during a global pandemic has given me a unique view of the team spirit that drives a GP practice. Each professional has stepped up to play their part in the vaccination programme to help protect their patient population, and I am really enjoying the team spirit and opportunity to play my part in this monumental task.

I am grateful for the support and variety of learning opportunities my placement has presented so far and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead. I would recommend a placement in a GP surgery to all nursing students; whether you are interested in working in primary care or not, the experience will provide you with an invaluable perspective on patient care throughout the lifecycle.


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