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New nurses must follow the path best for them

 Laura Bird 12 Mar 2019 Eastern

As student nurse, it can be difficult to know your first move when qualified. There are certain pathways favoured by both students and current staff that tend to involve starting your first year within an acute hospital trust. I have long felt that this pathway is not for me - not because I dislike hospital work but because that is not where my heart is.

During summer 2017, a friend’s mum who was a general practice nurse offered her time so I could have a glimpse into primary care. I felt very at home and went back to university to begin my second year very excited about my first community placement. I began to see the creativity and assessment skills used by community nurses out in people’s homes and in primary care settings and was amazed.

If you are a student nurse interested in community work, you may already be aware of some friction from others who believe only an acute hospital placement is appropriate for a newly qualified nurse. This led to some serious self-doubt at times. But I’m incredibly grateful that I stuck to my guns and did what was best for me. Recently I met the lead nurse at a GP surgery who was thrilled to see me, said my CV was fantastic, asked me about my training and my extracurricular activities with the RCN and my university’s nursing society.

This was my first encounter with an employer discussing newly qualified nursing positions and I was really excited to see what else there was out there in general practice nursing. I have struggled with doubt a great number of times, not through lack of passion but through a lack of understanding from others that general practice nursing has evolved and is continuing to evolve, and is an appropriate place for a newly qualified nurse. This meeting showed me exactly why resilience and perseverance are key to the nursing profession, as without these I would not have found the courage to apply for lots of general practice roles despite the established professionals around me that doubted my suitability.

The nurse asked me if I had any questions, so I enquired about the sexual health services they run from their various surgeries. She informed me that sexual health services are slightly lacking due to a member of staff who is very keen leaving. Sexual health services have also been cut back in the area and moved to a nearby town. This increased my curiosity further as sexual health is an interest of mine and something I would like to be part of within the primary care setting. This sparked a conversation about the finishing date of my training, when my last day at university is and when I’m likely to receive my pin number. It was at this point that everything began to feel very real and that any day now, I will be a qualified nurse. And now I’m looking forward to joining this practice in September once I qualify.

I strongly advise any fellow students considering a community post of any kind once qualifying to grasp the bull by the horns. Apply for any post that interests you and block out any negative noise from those around you who may tell you it’s just not suitable for a newly qualified nurse. You must follow your heart as nursing is a profession of the heart. This means doing what you think is best, not what anyone else thinks.

Laura Bird, RCN Eastern student committee member

Laura Bird

RCN Eastern Student Committee Member

Student nurse

Laura represents RCN Eastern students on the RCN's Student Committee and is a member of the RCN General Practice Nursing forum

Page last updated - 12/03/2019