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The responsibility we have as qualified nurses to inspire the next generation

Joanna Vintis 1 Dec 2022

A reflection on how my career has been influenced by student nurses. Encouraging others to look at how to incorporate supporting students into general practice and ensuring support goes from pre-registration to qualified staff.

I started my nurse training in 2007 and spent only half a day with a practice nurse. It was not a highlight of my training; the nurse was apologetic that she was too busy, wasn’t used to having students and she didn’t think I would learn anything. That nurse however taught me a valuable lesson; how quickly we shape our ideas of our own careers based on what we see in others. One contact with a practice nurse and I thought it wasn’t for me.

When I qualified, I was looking for a job to work around my young family and found myself in 2010 as a newly qualified nurse in a small GP practice. I have never looked back. I got to see first-hand the impact a practice nurse can have and for the past twelve years have been working with patients within my own clinics, managing my nursing team and incorporating students into my own practice. The lesson that I took from that practice nurse is that as qualified nurses we have the power to shape student nurses’ views, both for the positive and the negative. I have been very passionate about making sure students get to see the amazing work that we do in primary care and that they know this is a dynamic and importantly accessible role for them in the future.

The model of student nurse placements locally is one that often favours secondary care, and can feel like incorporating students is akin to fitting a square peg into a round hole. Practices have been working hard to try to include students, but with the low tariff, staff shortages and lack of space student nurses are often low on the list of priorities for practices. Students need time from practice nurses and that is something that we often do not have to spare. Looking back this is what that practice nurse was telling me all those years ago; she could spend time with me or spend it with her patients. She rightly chose her patients.

Two years ago, I began working regionally to support student nurse placements, and felt like I found my calling. Using my experience of hosting students, I was able to support practices and nurses in a workable way, developing a new placement model to highlight what student nurses can do in Primary Care while on placement with us. We were all once student nurses and will have memories of excellent placements during our training, this would largely be shaped by the student culture and the staff supporting us. Those qualified nurses who embraced us and guided us, have all played a pivotal role in the nurses we have become. I want to make sure that practice nurses can offer this to students and ensure they do not feel they need to take time away from their patients to be able to do this.

In October I made the decision to move from my clinical role and take on a lead nurse and practice placement facilitator role within NGPS, the GP federation for Newcastle Upon Tyne in the Northeast of England. The fundamental part of my role is to ensure that workforce development and support starts with pre-registration students and continues throughout people’s careers. This means giving students a structured placement within Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and making them an integral part of the primary care landscape here in Newcastle.

By providing excellent placements we will encourage more newly qualified nurses to aspire to join the primary care workforce, and while not every student we have on placement will want to work in primary care, by gaining an understanding of what we do will foster greater working relationships across our whole nursing community.
Combining the role of lead nurse and practice placement facilitator will enable me to work with students and qualified staff together making sure that we develop both simultaneously. My role is one which will develop over time, as all good practice should, moving flexibly to meet the needs of the students and the nurses I am supporting. I want to raise the profile of primary care and the amazing work we do, and importantly, inspire the next generation of nurses.

Joanna Vintis

Joanna Vintis

Member of the RCN GPN forum

Lead Nurse and Practice Placement Facilitator

Joanna has been a practice nurse for 12 years, and has a passion for student education. She is now a lead nurse for NGPS and helping to support and develop the nursing workforce in Newcastle.

Page last updated - 01/05/2023