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Primary Care Nurse

By EveryNurse Staff on January 12, 2023

Primary Care Nurse
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 and preventive medical procedures. Oftentimes, patients will use the services of the same doctors and nurses for their primary health issues. These medical professionals are referred to as primary care physicians and primary care nurses.

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 in 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 areas 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. On the other hand, pediatric nurses 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 regularly. In fact, many primary care nurses get to know many of their patients quite well and often form close personal relationships with them.

Working as a primary care nurse can be 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 direct contact with, even before their first scheduled appointments. These nurses may be in charge of handling the phones in busy healthcare facility offices, 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 and collect medical insurance information and any payments due.

Primary care nurses are also often responsible for performing the initial patient physical consultation before a physician examines 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. If necessary, a primary care nurse will also collect samples, such as mucus or blood samples, which can be studied in a laboratory to help diagnose illnesses and infections.

As a primary care nurse, you will often be responsible for 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.

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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. They can also work in community care centers, typically in rural or underserved communities where patients do not have health insurance. Some work in home health centers and provide direct care in patients home to reduce hospitalizations.

Primary Care Nurse Salary

The national average for primary care nurses is $103,614 / year or $50 / hour, according to (as of October 22nd, 2021).
  • Top Earner: $209,500
  • 75th Percentile: $127,500
  • Average: $103,614
  • 25th Percentile: $66,500

Factors that impact salary include skill level, location, and experience level. This is a career with high demand as the U.S. population ages which increases the need for preventive care and related health services. There are also more community health centers nationwide which is spiking demand for primary patient care.

Primary Care Nurse FAQ

The roles and responsibilities associated with providing general health care, have a tendency to be unpredictable and diverse. The primary roles include preventative care, treating chronic diseases and disabilities, and care management. The role becomes collaborative as this career requires you to work with other providers in a collaborative way to ensure optimal wellness.

A primary nursing career can be both physically and emotionally demanding. This is compounded by rising demand and constrained resourcing to provide quality patient care. The roles and responsibilities are wide which sometimes translates to concerns that you made the wrong decision. There are active conversations around creating strategies to reduce stress and burnout to protect nurses but the reality is this career is demanding.

Physical exams, treating injuries, health care screenings, observing for signs of illness, disease management, preventative care, chronic care management, managing patients with long-term illnesses and disabilities, and providing mental health support.

With a primary nursing career, you are working with patients who do not have immediate needs for hospitalization. Patients can be sick or healthy and your focus is on caring for their well-being. Acute care nurses might spend their day-to-day life in a clinical or hospital setting. They treat patients who have severe conditions that require either intensive care or specialized knowledge.

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