Practice nurses assess, screen, treat and educate all sections of the community, from babies to older people. They work within GP practices to help doctors give nursing and medical care.
As a practice nurse, your duties could include:
In larger GP surgeries you may work alongside other practice nurses and have the opportunity to specialise, for example in the needs of a particular client group.
You would generally work 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may need to work occasional evenings or weekends, for example if you are running a health promotion clinic. Part-time hours and job sharing are often available.
This work can be physically and emotionally demanding and you may work with clients who are distressed and suffering with long-term illness.
Practice nurses can earn between £25,500 and £34,200.
You could work with GP practices or local health centres as part of a primary care team including other nurses, dietitians and pharmacists.
The role of the practice nurse is expanding and you may be able to combine your community role, for example with prison nursing.
To work as a practice nurse you need:
To be a registered nurse, usually within the child or adult branch.
Around two years' post-qualifying experience.
To qualify as a nurse you need to complete a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved degree or Diploma of Higher Education in Nursing.
You may have an advantage if you have experience of working with patients in areas such as:
- Chronic disease management (such as diabetes & asthma)
- Wound dressing
- Childhood immunisation
- Cervical cytology
- Phlebotomy (taking blood)
Some employers will also prefer you to have completed a community specialist practitioner programme, specialising in general practice nursing.
If you do not already have a community specialist practitioner degree or postgraduate diploma (specialising in general practice nursing), it may help your career to work towards this.
Courses combine theoretical study with work-based experience across a range of public health services (some include training in nurse prescribing). For a list of courses, see the NMC website.
Courses can take between 12 and 18 months full-time or 2 to 3 years part-time to complete. Course providers can advise about funding options, which may be available through your regional strategic health authority (or you may need to fund yourself). You will need Criminal Records Bureau clearance when you apply for a course.
A practice nurse needs:
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With experience and qualifications you could progress to nurse practitioner level, which would involve managing your own case load of patients.
You could become more involved in health promotion, running workshops or clinics on issues such as women's health, prevention of coronary heart disease and immunisation.
You may also have the opportunity to specialise in, for example, chronic disease management and health issues like diabetes or asthma care.
Skills for Health,
Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 922 1155
Universities and Colleges
Admissions Services (UCAS),
Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham,
Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0870 1122 211
Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC),
23 Portland Place, London W1B 1PZ
Tel: 020 7333 9333
PO Box 376,
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.