Cassandra sent speculative applications to general practices before finding employment at her current surgery. She completed her BSc in Adult Nursing at the University of Bedfordshire
How did you get your job?
I sent my CV and covering letter to all the GP surgeries and Medical Centres in my area (around 18 in total) in the January before finishing my degree at the University of Bedfordshire in September. The practice I work for now contacted me in May, following a reference request from my final placement's practice manager.
What's a typical day like as a Practice nurse?
Morning and afternoon clinics start at specific times. We have 15 minutes before and after clinics to either set up or close down the office. We check the patients on our lists and work out if we need to prepare anything in advance of their appointments, such as dressings, injections or forms, and then the clinic starts.
Appointments are varied, which makes the job so interesting. Even if you think a patient is coming in for something routine, there will always be something else of theirs to see to. We take half an hour for lunch before afternoon clinic starts. All medical centres are different, but our patients are generally allocated 15 minute appointments - although there are exceptions.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy the variety of appointments, patients, and the practice environment in general. No two days are the same and it's nice to see new and regular patients.
What are the challenges?
Time management is a major challenge in this job. Patients book appointments for specific things, but then bring out a shopping list of ailments and requests they thought they'd 'just mention' while they were visiting. It's important to provide holistic, patient-centred care, and it's normal for other issues to arise from one 'routine' check-up. With such time restrictions, some patients have to make additional appointments - however, we do try to squeeze as much care as we can into each 15-minute slot.
In what way is your degree relevant?
My degree gave me the broad theory, knowledge and clinical skills base required for nursing. I was able to use elective placements, and my final sign-off placement, to gain relevant experience in GP nursing. A nursing degree is the only entrance into the role and, on qualifying, means we can join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register. It's a legal requirement to be on the NMC register in order to practise in the UK.
How has your role developed? What are your career ambitions?
When I started as a newly qualified nurse I enrolled onto another course at the University of Bedfordshire - Introduction to Practice Nursing - and booked onto courses in phlebotomy, long-term conditions, vaccines and immunisations. I intend to gain experience and expand my competencies in the hope of becoming a Minor Illness Nurse in the future.
How can I get into nursing?
At the moment you can only become a nurse after completing a degree course. However, there are many ways to qualify for the degree, such as UCAS points from further education, Access courses, and secondment or apprentice options. New routes into nursing are always being introduced, so the best way to discover your options is to talk to your chosen university.