What are Nurse Partners and Is It the Right Career for You?
Today, many ambitious and dedicated practice nurses are considering the transition to becoming a nurse partner. But before doing so, it is important to understand exactly what nurse partners are, how to become one, and the pros and cons involved with the role.
What are nurse partners?
As The National Primary and Care Trust Development Programme explains nurse partners were introduced with the intention of diversifying the primary care teams in surgeries. They explain that:
“Multi-professional partnerships (nurses, practice managers and GPs) in general practice have the potential to breakdown traditional professional hierarchies and recognise the contribution made by different professionals in meeting a practice’s professional and business goals.”
But what exactly is a nurse partner, and what does their role involve? A nurse partner is similar to a GP partner – a healthcare professional who has a share in the strategic decision-making – and, usually, profits – of a GP practice. The role allows nurse partners to advocate on behalf of other nurses, and on behalf of patients, due to their unique role in the care setting.
There are, in fact, three kinds of nurse partnerships available to practice nurses:
The first is a ‘full equal partner’. In this role, the nurse becomes self-employed and becomes a part owner of the business on an equal basis with all other partners. Here, the nurse partner assumes equal responsibility for the surgery, but also takes an equal share of the profits.
Next, there is the fixed share partner. Here, the nurse becomes self-employed, but is paid a fixed share each month, regardless of changes to practice profits. Here, there is generally less responsibility than as a full partner, but the levels of liability are agreed with fellow partners.
Finally, nurses can become a salaried partner. In this scenario, the nurse is involved in decision-making within the practice, but continues to be employed as a member of staff. Here, the nurse maintains all employment rights and avoids any responsibilities incurred by right of unlimited partnership. However, there is also the option to be paid in part depending on practice profits.
How to become a nurse partner
The role of nurse partner is exclusively available to experienced nurses who have worked in-practice for many years. However, there are other preparations nurses can make to progress to this role. As Nursing in Practice suggests, leadership training is an essential element of this, as nurse partners need to be confident, committed leaders with excellent communication skills.
Future nurse partners are also advised to consider studying a master’s degree to become an advanced nurse practitioner, and/or a community specialist degree, before applying to be a partner. Other ways you can prepare to transition into becoming a nurse partner include networking with local practitioners and attending nursing conferences.
Pros and cons of becoming a nurse partner
Of course, as with any senior-level healthcare job, there are pros and cons. The main factor that could dissuade some practice nurses from becoming partners is the level of responsibility involved in the job. As a partner, you will usually share liability for mistakes, which carries a certain risk. However, nurses can easily secure 100 per cent indemnity insurance for any clinical claims, and also medical negligence cover.
The role of a nurse partner is best suited to confident, experienced nurses who are able to use their initiative. Those who feel passionately about their job will thrive, as partners are required to attend all relevant meetings and have equal voting rights in any decision-making process concerning the practice.
For talented nurses, becoming a partner provides the chance to escape the traditional hierarchical system of general practice. It also provides an opportunity to join a healthcare team where all staff members are valued equally, with holistic patient care as the number one priority.