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Practice nurses work in GP surgeries where they plan, provide care, treatment and health education to patients of all ages.

General Practice Nursing (GPN) clinical supervision


We are monitoring take up of GPN workplace supervisors through Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

Primary Care and General Practice Nursing Career and Core Capabilities Framework

Skills for Health were commissioned to complete and publish the core capabilities framework by the end of March 2021.

This will help to promote and support nurses, employers, and workforce planners to understand the wealth of knowledge, skills and attributes that the nursing profession can provide in primary care/general practice, to meet the needs of the population.

The advanced clinical practice framework provides a standard and greater clarity on the capabilities required to work at an advanced level. It describes the required skills, knowledge and behaviours.

Download the Core Capabilities Framework for Advanced Clinical Practice (Nurses) Working in General Practice / Primary Care in England from the Skills for Health website.

Nursing Associate

This role was introduced to help build the capacity of the nursing workforce and the delivery of high-quality care. It provides career progression for health care support workers and is a progression route to registered nurse if required.

More information can be found on our Training Nursing Associates page.

Advanced clinical practice (ACP)

More information can be found on our Advanced Clinical Practice page.

Return to practice nursing (pre and post registration)

A number of universities provide courses for newly qualified or registered nurses, who haven’t been in practice for a while and would like to return to practice, contact us for more information and advice.

GPN ready schemes

Various schemes operate across the country. Get in touch with local Training Hubs for more information. More information can be found on our Training Hubs page.

Other Resources

Watch our ‘A day in the life of a general practice nurse’ film.

Find out more about career options on our Health Careers website

Training and Education:

Nursing degree

Most people qualify by studying a degree in nursing. Nursing degrees aren’t all about having your nose in a book. There is lots of practical hands on experience with patients in hospital and community settings.

The first thing to decide is which field of nursing you want to study in, so use the links below to find more about them. In all of these fields you’ll have the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people each and every day. The four fields of nursing are:

There are some degree courses that allow you to study in two of the fields. These are known as ‘dual field’ degrees. Once you have qualified you’ll be able to work as a nurse anywhere in the UK and even internationally.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for nursing degree courses vary because each university sets its own entry criteria, but you are likely to need at least two (usually three) A-levels or equivalent qualifications at level 3, plus supporting GCSEs including English, maths and a science (usually biology or human biology). Contact universities directly to find out whether qualifications equivalent to A-levels or GCSEs are acceptable.

Courses often specify preferred or essential A-level or equivalent subjects, such as one science (for example biology) or social science (for example psychology). Some universities offer courses with a foundation year for those without the necessary entry qualifications.

Where to study nursing

Many universities offer degrees in nursing. You can find a list of courses by using our Course Finder.

If you already have a degree in a relevant subject, you can often get recognition for this (a process called Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning – APEL), enabling you to do a postgraduate course in two rather than three years. You can also find these courses using our Course Finder.

“Studying a nursing degree allows me to work wherever I want” Cherie Lawrence, mental health nurse

Financial support while at university

At least £5,000 will be available from September 2020 to help eligible undergraduate and postgraduate student nurses fund their studies. Best of all, it won’t need to be repaid. Find out more about with these annual payments and the other financial support available.

How to apply

Applications for full-time nursing courses are made through UCAS. For part-time courses, contact individual universities to find out their application procedures. UCAS has some good tips on writing personal statements.

Online degrees

From January 2021, some universities are offering adult nursing courses where the theoretical content is mainly delivered online, making it easier to fit studies around home life. You can search for the courses, sometimes called ‘blended’ courses on our course finder.

Other ways to become a nurse

Registered nurse degree apprenticeships (RNDA)

A registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA) offers a flexible route to becoming a nurse that doesn’t require full-time study at university.

You will need to secure a position as an RNDA and your employer will release you to study at university part time.  You will train in a range of practice placements, for example hospitals, GP practices, people’s homes and mental health facilities.

Most RNDAs take four years, but possibly less if APEL (accreditation of prior experience and learning) recognises your previous learning and experience. For example, if you have a relevant level 5 qualification, the length of your apprenticeship could be reduced to two years rather than four.

You’ll typically need level 3 and maths and English qualification/s to start an RNDA. If you have a level 5 qualification as a nursing associate or assistant practitioner,  your apprenticeship might be called a ‘top up’ RNDA or ‘conversion’ to registered nurse course.

Vacancies for RNDA are advertised on the NHS Jobs website and the Government Find an apprenticeship website

Nursing associate

The role of nursing associate sits alongside existing nursing care support workers and fully-qualified registered nurses in both health and social care.

It opens up a career in nursing to people from all backgrounds and offers the opportunity to progress to training to become a registered nurse. Trainee roles are often available in a variety of health and care settings. This means that nursing associates have wider opportunities and more flexibility to move between acute, social and community and primary care.

A nursing associate is not a registered nurse, but with further training, it can be possible to ‘top up’ your training to become one.

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