Case Study: GPN Fellowship – Balazs Varga

Who are you?

I am Mr Balazs Varga, currently working as a Practice Nurse at Mereside Medical in Ely, Cambridgeshire. I completed my GPN Fellowship Programme in September 2022.

What is your educational background?

  • MSc Horticulturing- St Istvan University, Budapest, Hungary,
  • BSc Adult Nursing, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Currently 2nd year MSc Diabetes student, University of Warwick

Can you describe your experience of the fellowship?

Shortly after I qualified as an adult nurse from the university in January 2020, Covid pandemic hit and this was challenging enough itself not to mention the deep water you find yourself in a busy general practice as a newly qualified nurse. I was lucky enough to have two things which made my journey somewhat easier. One of them was the fact that I was doing my nursing degree in the apprenticeship pathway and had been working in primary care setting for many years, so beginning work in a GP surgery as a nurse was not completely new to me. The other thing I was fortunate to be enrolled in was the GPN Fellowship Programme. Even with my primary care background, my undergraduate nursing programme had been very secondary care focused.

For me, the Fellowship programme has filled in the large gaps, and the lack of knowledge, and enabled me to work as a Practice Nurse. It wasn’t only the education days where I had the opportunity to learn about contraception, HRT, travel vaccination or any other fundamental primary care nursing competencies, it was also the regular clinical supervision sessions, where I had the chance to speak open and honestly about clinical and non-clinical concerns. There was no other forum in the practice at that point where I could share my concerns as a newly qualified nurse so meeting with other fellows helped a lot on my journey and made me realise that I am not alone experiencing the difficulties at the start of my nursing career.

What did you achieve with the programme?

I made the most of my two-year Fellowship. All the basic general practice nurse competencies I had an opportunity to get induction on, I was able to complete the CARE course (including the “Shiny Minds” training) which was a life changing experience and as a starting point of my diabetes training, I managed to complete the Certificate of Improving Diabetes Care at the University of Warwick.

What’s been the best thing about your fellowship?

The best thing in my fellowship experience was the whole journey! The moment when we had the Celebration Event on completing the programme (because that was the very first time we could meet face to face with everyone following the pandemic) was memorable. The experience we shared with other fellows and the Fellowship facilitators was unique as we were the very first cohort to be able to enjoy the GPN Fellowship Programme.

In a nutshell, why would you recommend the programme to others?

I could not imagine any newly qualified nurse in General Practice not being part of the GPN Fellowship Programme. It is just essential to have that support to be able to start your Practice Nurse journey.

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