A new training model aims to encourage undergraduate students to consider the role of a practice nurse as their future careers.

Student nurses from the University of South Wales spent six weeks as part of a pilot project in GP practices across Cwm Taf to learn about the work of the practice nurse.

GP Gaynor Thomas and Sister Kate Wakeling, a practice nurse, from Pont Newydd Medical Centre in Porth led the scheme which is based on a similar ‘hub and spoke’ model in Yorkshire.

The new approach built on the existing training model and increased the capacity within Primary Care to accommodate placements.

The undergraduate nurses have been on placements at Pont Newydd, Porth, Cwm Gwyrdd Medical Centre, in Gilfach Goch and Morlais Medical Centre in Merthyr Tydfil.

One of them Alicia Howley, 26, a second year undergraduate student from Merthyr, said that she had been impressed with the role of a practice nurse and the team working involved in practice nursing.

“I like the clinical side of nursing and I had always been interested in primary care,” she said.

She had observed ward rounds, chronic disease clinics, well woman and contraception, wound care, hypertension management, spirometry clinics, members of the Multi-Disciplinary Team including GPs and pharmacists and had the opportunity to attend baby clinics, including immunisations.

“I didn’t fully realise the role of a practice nurse. The placement has opened my eyes to a positive outlook,” she said.

As part of the team in primary care, the role involved managing a patient’s care.

The experience had persuaded her to consider a future role as a practice nurse, she said.

“Most definitely I would want to consider practice nursing too,” she said.

Clare Johnson, practice manager at Pont Newydd Medical Centre, said that the feedback from the first group of students had been extremely positive.

It was hoped that the initial pilot could be continued.

“The aim is to allow undergraduate student nurses to spend quality time in a practice to gain a better understanding of what practice nursing involves,” she said.

“We know that there is a need for practice nurses going forward as some of those in post reach retirement or choose to follow other career paths.

 “We hope that this early exposure to the role of a practice nurse encourages more to consider it as a career once they qualify.”