The Crucial Role of Nurses in Primary Care

Primary care settings are where patients of every age — from pediatrics to the elderly— typically go for their “everyday” care needs. Examples include an annual wellness check, cancer screening, flu diagnosis or maintenance for prescription refills.

Nurses play a key role in these environments, as they are often the first and last point of contact during an appointment — and they often help with patients’ follow-up questions or concerns. Just as with any nursing specialty or subspecialty, primary care nurses must possess certain qualities and qualifications to thrive in their career.

Anyone considering pursuing employment in primary care nursing should consider the following questions:

What Does a Nurse in Primary Care Do?

It’s likely that during your last primary care doctor visit, a nurse was the professional who took your vital signs such as weight, height, temperature and blood pressure. These nurses also routinely record concerns and any historical health information — personal- or family-related. Sometimes, nurses in a primary care setting will collect various samples (urine, blood, mouth swabs) in order to further the process of assessment and diagnosis.

Where Do Nurses in Primary Care Work?

The most common settings in which primary care nurses work include physicians’ offices and outpatient clinics. They may also work in a certain specialty office, such as those for pediatric or geriatric medicine.

However, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, such as urgent care clinics, also hire primary care nurses.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree can make a nurse the perfect candidate to work in any number of settings that require advanced care skills. For example, Magnet-designated healthcare facilities tend to prefer or even require a BSN so that they can uphold their reputation for providing excellent care.

Qualities That Help Primary Care Nurses Thrive

Since many of the settings in which primary care nurses work are appointment-based, these professionals must be efficient without compromising the quality of care. To be certain, every patient deserves an adequate amount of time to address health issues. However, if nurses are highly efficient in their duties, the patients spend less time waiting.

Collaboration is another helpful nursing characteristic from the provider’s perspective. A nurse who works to build cohesion and collaboration with a team of coworkers allows the entire office machine to run smoothly.

On both the provider and patient side, primary care nurses benefit by having strong interpersonal communication skills. They can calm a worried parent with compassion and empathy, then relay essential details to a physician quickly and succinctly.

Why Primary Care Nurses Serve a Key Role in Promoting Overall Health

Primary care nurses bear a great responsibility to aid in chronic disease prevention, positive patient outcomes and overall health promotion. This task is not easy, given the rates of childhood obesity, increasing type-2 diabetes diagnoses and heart disease occurrence.

That, however, proves how primary care nurses serve such a critical role. They are often the “go-to” when patients need clarification or have questions or concerns. They can also promote and encourage medication adherence, leading to better patient outcomes.

A BSN degree can give you the knowledge, practice and education you need to start or improve your primary care nursing career. The skills and knowledge you’ll gain are incredibly valuable for any number of roles in the healthcare field.

Learn more about William Paterson University’s RN to BSN online program.

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