A nurse-led pilot scheme is supporting nursing students to carry out clinical placements within general practice as part of a move to challenge misconceptions about working in primary care.
Joanna Vintis was appointed as the lead nurse and practice placement facilitator for Newcastle GP Services last summer and has since been working with adult nursing students from Northumbria University to help them learn more about practice nursing.
As part of the programme, Ms Vintis guides a cohort of nursing students through placements in general practices, local charities and within social prescribing teams.
The students are also given opportunities to run student-led clinics within practices where they learn ‘how to work independently’.
Ms Vintis said her role was introduced to try and find a new way to bring students into general practice nursing, because ‘historically it has been really challenging’, she told Nursing in Practice. ‘It is not something that is a big priority for practices,’ she said.
Practices were dealing with ‘so much pressure’ and in some cases did not have capacity to support students needing clinical placements, she noted.
Ms Vintis role aims to take ‘some of that pressure away from practices’ by coordinating and supporting students on placements.
As a general practice nurse of 13 years, Ms Vintis said her new and ‘unique’ position meant that ‘the students have an experienced nurse who is used to teaching and developing them’.
‘It helps them grow their confidence in a way that they are then able to go back into practices without me and be a bit more proactive in their learning and what they are experiencing,’ she added.
She is currently supporting nine students – as part of a second cohort of students – on placements across 20 learning environments around Newcastle.
‘The students are really enjoying it and getting loads out of it,’ Ms Vintis told Nursing in Practice.
‘It has completely changed how students are interacting with primary care.’
Ms Vintis said the pilot scheme was important in helping students see that practice nursing was ‘a really exciting career’.
‘There’s a lot of misconceptions about practice nursing, and that it’s something that you can only do later down the line,’ she added. ‘But we’ve got so many exciting things going on, in the Northeast for newly qualified nurses.’
‘I want to make sure that the next generation that is coming through have really good peer support to look up to now,’ she said.
She added: ‘I’m trying to get practices used to seeing new people, because you may have some of our practices [who have] had practice nurses in post for over 25 years.
‘So, they haven’t recruited, and they don’t know the new standards that student nurses are working to; they don’t realise how amazing they are at qualification.’
Some nursing students who have engaged in the scheme have decided to join the bank as healthcare assistants and will transition into nurses once qualified, said Ms Vintis.
She therefore hoped the scheme would ‘be that recruitment pathway for these new nurses to come in’ to general practice.
Next year, the scheme has plans to extend to include all four fields of nursing and have students from more universities.