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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Family Practice 1/2018

GP/GPN partner* perspectives on clinical placements for student nurses in general practice: can a community of practice help to change the prevailing culture within general practice?

BMC Family Practice > Ausgabe 1/2018
Robin Lewis, Shona Kelly
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12875-018-0842-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The UK Government document 5 year forward view describes the need to move chronic disease management from secondary to primary care, which will require a significant increase in the numbers of General Practice Nurses (GPNs). Until recently, there has been no specific recruitment strategy to address this increased need. In recent times, a number of solutions have been suggested to address this impending GPN recruitment crisis. For example, Health Education England (HEE) commission General Practitioners (GPs), who are members of the Advanced Training Practice Scheme (ATPS), to provide placements for student nurses within general practice.


A descriptive qualitative study was undertaken, in which data were collected using semi-structured interviews with 16 GPs and 2 GPN partners*. Qualitative analysis used a framework approach and themes were cross-checked within the team and member checking was undertaken with a convenience sample of GPs. The research had ethical approval and anonymity and confidentiality were maintained.


From the GP perspective, there were two key themes that emerged from the data. The first theme of ‘fishing in the same small pond’ included succession planning for the general practice workforce, the ‘merry go round’ of poaching staff from other practices, and the myths and misunderstandings that have grown up around general practice nursing. The second theme, ‘growing your own’, looked at the impact of the student nurse placements as a means to address the crisis in GPN recruitment. There was recognition of the need for cultural change in the way that GPNs are recruited, and that the ATPS was one way of helping to achieve that change. There were however a number of challenges to sustaining this cultural shift, such as the financial constrains placed upon the GP practice, and the need to function as a ‘small business’.


Despite all the challenges, the evidence is that, through the Community of Practice (CoP), the ATPS scheme is beginning to ‘bear fruit’, and there is a subtle but discernible move by GPs from a ‘why would we?’ to ‘why wouldn’t we?’ invest in education and training for nurses in general practice.
N.B. The term GPN partner* denotes a GPN who is a ‘full partner’ in the practice business, holding the same NHS contracts and the same status as a GP. For the purposes of the paper itself, the term GP will be used to denote both types of partner.
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