Aim: To explore final-year nursing students’ perceptions of general practice nursing.
Background: The need for general practice nurses has increased due to growing demands for health care in the community. This demand is exacerbated by a shortage in the general practice nursing workforce. Understanding final-year nursing students’ perceptions of general practice nursing is important as these may influence career choices.
Design: Qualitative descriptive study within a mixed methods project.
Methods: Telephone interviews were conducted with sixteen final-year nursing students. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Reporting follows the COREQ checklist.
Results: Perceptions of general practice nursing varied between participants and related to three main themes; ways of working; a broad role to meet diverse health needs; and relationships with patients. General practice nurses were seen to have stable and collaborative working relationships, with their role ranging from supporting general practitioners to being autonomous professionals. The nurse's broad role was associated with diverse presentations and was considered interesting and challenging. Participants perceived that general practice nurses had more time to spend with patients, and this helped establish trust, and facilitated patient-centred care.
Conclusion: Participants’ perceptions of general practice nursing varied, with some students recognising the diversity of the role and others perceiving it as limited. These views were often impacted by others experiences rather than personal experience. These variations underscore the need for students to receive greater exposure to general practice nursing. Review of undergraduate curricula to increase focus on preparing nursing students to work in general practice may help shape students’ interest to seek employment in this setting.
Relevance to clinical practice: Students perceptions of a clinical setting can influence their career decisions. Understanding these perceptions can inform clinicians and managers and highlight areas that may need to be addressed to promote career opportunities.