Primary health care is considered to be the first level of medical care. It refers to the care that patients receive for minor illnesses and injuries, as well as for preventive medical procedures. Oftentimes, patients will use the services of the same doctors and nurses for their primary health issues. These medical professional are referred to as primary care physicians and primary care nurses.

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What is a Primary Care Nurse?
What do Primary Care Nurses Do?
Where do Primary Care Nurses Work?
How do I Become a Primary Care Nurse?

What is a Primary Care Nurse?

A primary care nurse is a nursing professional that works in a primary health care setting. Because they almost primarily work in physicians’ offices, they may also be referred to as office nurses.

Primary care nurses must be skilled at a variety of everyday basic nursing procedures. As a primary care nurse, you may encounter a wide range of medical problems. These are typically minor illnesses, such as colds and allergic reactions. However, you can also choose to specialize in certain branches of medicine as a primary care nurse, which will allow you to treat specific illnesses.

The patients that you will encounter as a primary care nurse will also vary depending on your specialty. For example, primary care nurses specializing in general family medicine will see patients of all ages. Pediatric primary care nurses, on the other hand, treat only children, while primary care nurses specializing in geriatrics treat only elderly patients.

As a primary care nurse, you will most likely interact with patients on a regular basis. In fact, many primary care nurses get to know many of their patients quite well and may even become friendly with them.

Working as a primary care nurse can be somewhat less stressful than working as another type of nursing professional. For instance, you will rarely have to deal with emergencies, and you will typically have a very predictable schedule with set “office hours”. However, working as a primary care nurse is no walk in the park. To be a good primary care nurse, you must have excellent communication skills and be very well organized.

What do Primary Care Nurses Do?

Primary care nurses are often the first medical professional that most patients come in contact with, even before their first scheduled appointments. These nurses may be in charge of manning the phones in busy healthcare facility offices, for instance, which will often entail scheduling appointments, recording some patient information, and addressing concerns.

When patients first arrive at a healthcare facility office, primary care nurses are also usually responsible for extending a friendly greeting and checking them in. During this time, they will often confirm appointments, as well as collect medical insurance information and any payments due.

Primary care nurses are also often responsible for performing the initial patient physical examination, before the physicians see the patients. This often involves such things as measuring and recording things like height, weight, and vital signs. A primary care nurse will also usually listen to and record any symptoms of illness or injury as well. If necessary, a primary care nurse will also collect samples, such as mucus or blood samples, which can be later studied in a laboratory to aid in diagnosing illnesses and infections.

As a primary care nurse, you will often be responsible for much of the direct patient care, such as treating a patient after a diagnosis has been made. Depending on the illness or injury, this could involve such things as administering medications or changing dressings.

Preventive medical procedures are also an important part of a primary care nurse’s job. These nurses are often responsible for performing regular check-ups, for instance. They may also be required to administer vaccinations and assist during health screenings.

Where do Primary Care Nurses Work?

Primary care nurses are most often employed in physician offices and outpatient clinic offices. However, hospitals and other healthcare facilities also hire these nurses.

How do I Become a Primary Care Nurse?

The first step toward becoming a primary care nurse is earning your nursing diploma or degree. Afterward, you will also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Below is the educational path for a Primary Care Nurse (lowest to highest level of education)

Educational TrackSchool ProgramsAverage Education LengthChoosing Online or Campus
Earn a Bachelors DegreeView Programs4 Years Online or Campus
Earn a MSN DegreeView Programs2 Additional YearsOnline or Campus
Earn a PHD or DNPView Programs2-4 Additional YearsOnline or Campus

Primary care nurses can also choose to continue their education and become certified in their specialty. Certification is typically obtained through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or other nursing organization. For instance primary care nurses that choose to specialize in pediatrics can obtain their certification through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.