“You can’t be a newly qualified here until you have experience there for 6 months plus…”

“You can’t be a newly qualified here until you have experience there for 6 months plus…” 

Many student nurses, including myself, have been put off going into the community; GP, district nursing, sexual health or any other area within healthcare because of this statement.  

For this reason, student nurses have been applying to areas they do not want their future to lie and it is a little disheartening to hear.  

I fully respect other people’s opinions on this, and I can see why some individuals will give this advice. So, I am not saying anyone is wrong for saying this.  


The advice is usually, ‘work in accident and emergency (A&E) for the first 6 – 12 months to gain the hands-on experience and get a good variety of patients,’ which makes sense. However, in my personal opinion, what skills or experience am I going to learn here that I will not out in the community? IV’s, cannulas maybe? Why do I need these particular skills if I have no intention to use them in the area I want to work in. ‘The busy rush of A&E?’ Have you worked in a GP surgery? I have never worked so hard in my life than when I had my placement there. We also had emergency patients in that we had to care for out in the clinic. They have the ‘crash trolley’ ready and manage these situations so well! Same with other areas you will work in.  

I would be working in A&E all those months training as a newly qualified nurse (NQN), but then when I make the move into community, I am back at square one? I then have to gain experience and training from that area because every area is different. Even more so if you want to specialise in sexual health. An area which you will not be assessing and dressing wounds, putting in catheters or a toe removal maybe. An area that you really need to get in and get the experience directly with because no amount of A&E skills will teach you what you need for sexual health clinics. Although saying this, you may get a few objects stuck in areas of the human body in A&E… from what I have heard! That will help you.  


Not only this, but we have just been doing 3 years of rotated placements as a student nurse to gain experience? Surely that has to count for something?  

My advice is, if you want a particular area, if you’re passionate about it, GO FOR IT!  

If you haven’t heard already, we are in a staff shortage crisis, every area NEEDS nurses now. There is a whole GP 10-point plan which has been put in place to support NQN’s to go into general practice; I have put the links below for you to have a read of.  


Ignore the myths of having to have experience and get applying. Write a fantastic statement showing your passion, bag yourself an interview and show them why they should choose you! Don’t let anyone put you off applying where you want to be and certainly don’t let anyone put you off following your heart and dreams, this is YOUR career for the rest of your life. I know when I am qualified I will be going straight to community and nowhere else, and I will apply and apply until they cannot refuse me. Be happy. Always.  


Claire Carmichael – Second year student nurse  


GP 10-point plan: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/general-practice-nursing-ten-point-plan-v17.pdf 

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