What is a Primary Care Nurse?

13 October 2020 By Michael Bowyer

​Primary care nursing requires several qualifications, ongoing training, revalidation and the sort of skills essential for all nurses both practical skills, but also personal skills such as a caring aptitude.

Primary care nursing remains increasingly varied and interesting form of nursing. Although it can require some home visits they are generally practice or centre-based and usually follow regular working patterns.

It’s likely you’ll get to know your patients more as you will see some on a regular basis as well as gaining a sense of being part of the community.

What is Primary Care?

Primary Care is the first point of access for care for patients, including GP surgeries and primary care centres, but also community pharmacists, dentists and optometrists.

What does a Primary Care Nurse do?

A primary care nurse delivers or assists with minor and chronic illness management, treatment of minor injuries, diagnostics, prescriptions and advice.

Typical tasks may include:

  • Home visits

  • Immunisation and vaccines for babies, children and adults

  • Prescribing

  • Suturing and wound management

  • Delivering travel advice and relevant vaccines

  • Smear tests, swabs and blood tests

  • Other investigatory procedures as requested by GPs

  • Over-the-phone triage

  • Ear syringing

  • Sexual health screening and advice

  • Maintenance of patient records, medical stock and surgery supplies

What does a Primary Care Nurse do on a day-to-day basis?

There’s no typical day for a primary care nurse, with duties changing according to patient needs throughout the day. The day will be populated with several appointments which may include any of the aforementioned tasks, and with admin such as records maintenance or ordering. It may also involve home visits and liaising with GPs to integrate patient care throughout the day.

What does a Locum Nurse do on a day-to-day basis?

Locum nurses aren’t employed by a specific surgery or primary care centre but work at a variety of settings as the work demands it. Generally speaking, the duties carried out will be the same as a permanent primary care nurse, although some tasks may be less likely to fall to them, such as ordering health care supplies.

What qualifications and skills do I need as a primary care nurse?

You must be a fully qualified and registered nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to work in primary care and continue with your primary care nursing training on an ongoing basis. You must also keep your revalidation up to date.

What are the essential nursing skills?

In addition to academic qualifications there are several other skills needed for primary care nursing, many of which apply to all nursing as well as the primary care nursing model.

Primary care nurses see patients with a variety of needs, many of which may be social or mental as well as physical ailments. Often listening skills go beyond simply listening to what is being said but also listening to what isn’t. Primary care nurses must have a level of sensitivity, and often require relationship-building with patients they see regularly over time.

There are many practical skills essential to primary care nursing, such as:

  • Wound management

  • Suturing

  • Vaccines and immunisations

  • Sexual health screening

  • Blood tests, swabs and other diagnostic screenings

  • Performing triage

As well as interpersonal skills and personality traits

  • Excellent communication skills

  • A caring and empathetic manner

  • The ability to remain impartial and non- judgmental

  • The ability to form ongoing relationships

  • Organisational skills

It is possible to specialise in an area of primary care, and / or work towards becoming an advanced practitioner.

If you’re looking for new nursing opportunities as either an acute care or agency nurse, get in touch as we may have your next role!

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