I was overwhelmed with the breadth, depth & complexity involved in community care. It was the first time in my career I felt truly connected to people, to a team and to the wider community. I saw humanity in all its forms.
By Claire Carmichael, GPN SNN Ambassador (Midlands & East)
I’ve worked in primary care about 17 years now, love it, & never looked back!
I got the opportunity many moons ago whilst working in a large hospital, to take a secondment as a community nurse. I was overwhelmed with the breadth, depth & complexity involved in community care. It was the first time in my career I felt truly connected to people, to a team and to the wider community. I saw humanity in all its forms.
I remember one of the first home visits undertaken in central Manchester. A dishevelled and unkempt man stumbled to answered the door, his clothes were filthy & his shoe laces undone. Please can you tie my shoe laces nurse? My immediate reaction was one of terror; maybe he was drunk and was going to lash out.
My immediate reaction was one of terror; maybe he was drunk and was going to lash out.
My hastily prepared response was ready, that I had come to speak with his carer, and then I would be on my way… on closer inspection, the man wasn’t drunk, he was physically disabled, unable to tie his shoe laces frightened alone, & in need of a listening ear. I tied his shoe laces, stood up, and looked into his eyes. I will never forget that look in his eyes… he smiled… and then I realised we had now connected.
We had long conversations about his social circumstances, his medical issues & his mental health. We worked together to put support in place to enable better health and to support his independence as far as possible.
The best part of being a general practice nurse is that no two days are the same. This keeps us awake, alive, motivated and challenged.
I realised then, that working at the heart of my community was the nursing path for me.
The best part of being a general practice nurse is that no two days are the same. It can be dynamic, extremely complex and at times terribly frustrating I love the diversity of the role. The people, family & carers we meet span the entire life course. From public health to palliative care, and everyone in between.
Being a GPN offers you a glimpse into people’s lives, and that is a real privilege.
There are several structured career pathways now for general practice nursing, there is so much to encompass from women’s health, to mental health, paediatrics and long term condition care. The majority of nurses working in primary care you will tell you that it is a steep learning curve. That’s a great thing, in terms of career potential. This keeps us awake, alive, motivated and challenged.
Being a generalist requires critical thinking, flexibility & intelligent kindness. All GPNs’ skills are unique, and span a lifetime. Working with communities will be your greatest challenge and reward. Your skill set involves complex decision making, applying evidence based care in often traumatic situations, and supporting people in some of life’s most intimate moments.
If you are passionate, dedicated and curious about people, then a career in primary care is for you!