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Nursing student takes on ambassador role for student network

Kiran Athwal will be sharing her passion for General Practice Nursing with fellow students as she takes on ambassador role.

Nursing

Kiran Athwal, a third-year adult nursing student at King’s, has been selected as an ambassador for the General Practice Nursing Student Nurse Network (GPN SNN).

Launched in 2018, the GPN Student Nurse Network promotes general practice nursing as a career choice to students and the wider nursing community. The network aims to celebrate and raise the profile of general practice nursing and encourage nursing students to try a general practice placement.

The network’s ambassadors are spread across all regions of the UK, and work to build positive perceptions of a career in primary care through university visits, as well as leading conversations and engaging student nurses on social media.

I’m very happy to have been made an ambassador for the GPN Student Nurse Network and am looking forward to exploring general practice nursing as a future career. I hope that through my role as ambassador I can help dispel some of the myths that surround the profession within the student community and get other student nurses engaged in this career path.– Kiran
Kiran Athwal

In her role as ambassador, Kiran will receive training to go into universities and talk about general practice nursing with other students. Kiran, who has been passionate about becoming a general practice nurse for years, says she believes it’s a great career choice that many students may be overlooking.

“I’ve always been interested in promoting good health, both physical and mental, and I know my strength is in prevention. In my family, I’m the one who constantly suggests eating more plant foods, going for a walk-in nature, or doing yoga. It’s very important to me to maintain good health behaviours and self-care as far as possible, and act as a positive role model to the nursing profession.”

 

What is a general practice nurse?

General practice nurses work in GP surgeries as part of the primary healthcare team. A practice nurse will be responsible for a number of clinical areas such as health promotion, chronic disease management, health prevention, women’s and men’s health clinics, as well as supporting the management team in the reviewing of clinical policy and procedure.

Nurses working in general practice are undertaking an ever-wider range of roles, with experienced nurses assuming more of the traditional workload of GPs. The role allows nurses to develop long-term relationships with individuals and families, managing their conditions and improving physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Knowing she was interested in a career in primary care from the moment she started at King’s, Kiran contacted the GPN SNN Lead, Claire Carmichael, during her first year, to get advice on what she could do to become a general practice nurse.

“Claire gave me amazing support and answered all my questions about this path I was considering. She also debunked some of the myths around the profession. For instance, many students have the impression they need to start their careers in acute care. Claire assured me that many newly qualified nurses can start in primary care. Another myth is that nurses in general practice ‘lose their skills’. However, the fact is, in general practice you are seeing a variety of patients, meaning you will be an expert in many subjects. More skills, not fewer! It was so reassuring to hear and inspired me to work towards my goals.”

What I find very special and exciting about the general practice nursing role is that it allows nurses to develop long-term relationships with individuals and families, managing their conditions and improving physical and mental health and wellbeing. When Claire told me there was an opening for the ambassador role, I didn’t hesitate to send in my application as I knew I would be very enthusiastic about primary care.– Kiran

Kiran is now in her third and final year of the Adult Nursing degree and is due to qualify in August. Studying for a nursing degree amid a global pandemic has been no walk in the park, and Kiran doesn’t shy away from admitting that the past two years have occasionally been tough.

“I think everyone has found the past two years difficult in their own way. However, it’s something that connects us all. I remember the first lockdown being announced just days after I had finished one of my very first placements.”

Despite some initial challenges in adjusting to virtual teaching and learning, Kiran looks back on her time at King’s fondly.

Overall, I’ve had an amazing time studying at King’s. The placements were my favourite part, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience many different environments and areas of nursing. I’ve been on placement at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, the University College London Hospital, and UCH Westmoreland Street. I have also worked on a Qualitative Diabetes Research project at King’s with Professor Jackie Sturt, Dr Mette Christensen and Dr Emma Rowland. They were all amazing learning experiences.– Kiran

Despite only joining the network as an ambassador in December, Kiran is already thinking of ways she can make an impact. In addition to joining the network’s dedicated WhatsApp group, she is also writing a blog to be published on the GPN SNN website. She’s looking forward to receiving the required training so she can begin visiting universities and engaging with nursing students across London.

As she looks ahead to graduation and becoming a qualified nurse, Kiran has recently completed her preferences for her consolidation placement. Unsurprisingly, she has chosen general practice, and is crossing her fingers that she gets her wish.


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