Northamptonshire nurses have spoken of the benefits of a pioneering training course preparing them for new careers in general practice.

Our county became the first area of England to launch the GP Nurse Training Programme when the first recruits joined the work-based education scheme in January 2019. The 10 trainees – all registered nurses who are either newly qualified, returning to work or looking to take a new career path – are now settled in their placements at GP practices run by Lakeside Healthcare and the 3Sixty Care Partnership around Northamptonshire.

The study element of their training will conclude at De Montfort University next month as they continue to learn practical skills and receive mentorship at their placement practices. They are all due to complete the programme in the autumn, when they will receive their qualifications and become fully-fledged general practice nurses.

In January’s edition of Partnership Update we introduced the new training programme ahead of its launch. Now we share the stories of two of the trainees working in Wellingborough and Kettering – and find out what they are enjoying most about the programme.

“The pathway to pursue my career” – Alison’s story

Alison Bullock had been keen to become a practice nurse when she first qualified in 2007, but at that time she couldn’t find a way into primary care.

After working as a medical services adviser for a charity and then a phlebotomist in London, Alison relocated to Northampton where she took time out to raise her young family.

In January this year she completed the University of Northampton’s Return to Practice programme and successfully applied for the GP Nurse Training Programme. She is currently training at Albany House Medical Centre in Wellingborough.

Alison said: “I am really enjoying the programme and it has given me the pathway to pursue my career as a general practice nurse. It combines a structured study programme at De Montfort University along with real experience within my practice.

“Without this opportunity, I would not have the breadth of understanding of the role of a general practice nurse or its potential.”

“Colleagues have been so supportive” – Stephanie’s story

Stephanie Archer started her nursing career in 2011 at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, where she worked on a variety of wards before moving to the A&E department at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.

Before joining the GP Nurse Training Programme she was a nurse disability analyst for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Now she’s taking the opportunity to fulfil a personal ambition to move into general practice and get back to nursing patients and making a difference.

Stephanie is undertaking her training at Dryland Surgery in Kettering and her long-term ambition is to become an Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

“My practice colleagues have been so supportive,” she said. “Their help and experience has been invaluable in helping me to develop the skills needed to work in general practice. It is also great to be part of the Northamptonshire group on this programme as we are able to help and support one another.”