Dorathy Oparaeche, a Community Staff Nurse, talks about some of the most common misconceptions of community nursing she’s come across, and what the truth is.
Many nurses working in the community nursing sector say the job brings extensive gratitude, value and a sense of pride. The impact of having the ability to make a difference to a person’s life in a positive way is just one of the best parts about being a community nurse.
Like with any role, there can be misconceptions about what community nursing is, so we spoke to Dorathy Oparaeche, a Community Staff Nurse based in North Tyneside, about some of the most common misconceptions she’s come across, and what the truth is.
“Don’t go in to community nursing, you’ll lose your skills.”
This is far from accurate, if anything you actually gain skills! Gone are the days where ‘you just give insulin’, it’s a job that’s more challenging and rewarding than ever before.
“Becoming a community nurse is something you do when you’re looking to retire.”
According to some, community nursing ‘isn’t busy’, hence why it’s more suited to nurses looking to retire. In actual fact the days differ from day-to-day, you’re always on your feet and each day brings a new challenge. It definitely isn’t a job that’s only suited to those looking to retire, it’s full of life!
“Community nurses just sit and have a cup of tea with elderly patients.”
“It’s an easy job meant for older nurses, rather than younger nurses.”
One of the most significant changes in community nursing over the years is the volume of patients in the community that need to be treated. Hospitals look to send patients home if safe to do so, so there is enough capacity for those that need hospitalised care. Therefore, community nurses are more in demand, and need the variety of roles to support the increase in care which includes nurses from different age groups; all ages bring something valuable, whether that’s of emotional or skilled value, to the role.
“If you’re not a team player and would rather work alone, then community nursing is probably for you.”
Team work is so important when working in the community, as is the ability to work independently and make judgement calls. The beauty of working within a team is that there is always someone to have your back, whether that’s in person or just a phone call away, which is hugely important to the wellbeing of nurses and their patients. Having the skills to work independently is also important, as sometimes split-second decision have to be made and there won’t always be time to get a second opinion. This means sometimes you’ll be under pressure, but with this comes experience, support and development.
“There is no room for professional or personal development if you become a community nurse, the learning opportunities are limited.”
There are so many opportunities to specialise in specific areas within community nursing such as palliative care, tissue viability, continence, cardiac rehab and heart failure to name a few. There are also opportunities to take the lead on particular areas of interest where you’ll have managerial responsibilities in your specialist area, as well as developing your skills within the role.
“A community nursing role is a lot more basic than if you were a nurse working on a hospital ward.”
On a hospital ward you’ll have a lot more nurses and staff, including managers and doctors, and there will always be someone to turn to for advice or for a second opinion. Decision making based on your own skill and judgement is an important part of being based on a ward too. Working in the community you also often have to make decisions based on your own judgement, knowledge and skills, and as there are fewer nursing or management staff present to turn to, it can make the community role feel more pressured. There is however always someone at the end of the phone for those moments where a second opinion is more crucial. With this responsibility comes development and great pride in what you do.
“Community nursing is not real nursing.”
The skill, professionalism and passion that goes into nursing is the same across the board, whether you’re in a hospital-based or community-based role. The training involved, as well as qualifications required, is there for professionals to achieve the common goal of helping people. This may be in the form of helping to save a life, helping to make a life more manageable, to educate or to support end of life care to make it as comfortable as possible.
Are you looking to begin a career in community nursing? For more information about the opportunities available, click here