Many of us students will have been lucky enough to experience a placement where we felt we belonged. Ever since my first summer block placement in community, I knew it would be my dream job. I was then lucky enough to spend my 2nd year elective and my sign off in community too!
Even though I was really passionate and excited about wanting to work in community, I didn’t always see it as a possibility. Every time someone asked me where I wanted to work, and I said community, I was met with disagreement.
“You can’t go straight into community”
“You need a few years of ward experience first”
When you hear this all the time, from qualified nurses, it’s normal to feel a bit perplexed. I thought we could work anywhere…?
Well I’m hear to let you into a not-so-secret secret, you CAN work in community as an NQN!
Once I entered 3rd year, I decided to ignore all the advice I was given, and applied for community posts anyway, without a driving license. I got the job! In fact, I was offered two posts in different areas. So I thought I’d debunk some myths around community Nursing….
It’s only for older nurses who want to retire soon as it’s boring!
Hahahahhha! You may not be on your feet for 12 hours straight but you are forever bending into odd shapes in order to do wound care/catheterising/injections in order to fit into the home environment, as well as other challenges. You still have your patients, on your list, and possible added extras too. It’s not a job for someone who wants an easy life that’s for sure! But is any nursing job an easy life? I’ll let you decide…
You have to go to uni again to work in community
Wrong! You can join as a band 5 staff nurse! If you want to be a registered district nurse, you need to complete a year full time/ part time masters, which will make you a band 6. You need community experience (at least 2 years) before undertaking this. It’s massively helpful, and aids career progression, but by no means essential. If this is your aim, mention it to potential employers and ask about secondment.
You need ward experience before you go into community
Nope! This used to be the norm, but not anymore! Newly qualified nurses should have the skills to be able to work in a ward or in community. I personally feel more prepared to work in community once qualified, just as someone else might feel at home in ICU. It’s personal choice!
You de-skill yourself working in community
Incorrect!! And one of my biggest pet peeves. Every nursing role is different, and will require both general and specialised skills. Community nurses need to be able to: work independently, feel confident giving medication such as diamorphine or insulin by themselves (these usually have to be countersigned in the hospital!), provide wound care, support patients at the end of life and their family and many many more skills. This isn’t deskilling! It’s just a different set of skills.
If you want to work in community, do not lose hope if you are being told otherwise. Attend recruitment events, speak to your preferred trusts and apply for jobs!
Keep an eye out for more Mythbuster: NQN jobs blogs…