Practice nursing in Ireland

A practice nurse is a registered general nurse who works with a general practitioner (GP). Practice nurses are privately employed by the GP. They provide holistic nursing care to patients of the GP surgery.

Practice nurses must be on the live general register of NMBI. They are responsible for their own scope of practice. This is guided by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

Practice nursing is a growing discipline. In 1999 there were 500 practice nurses in Ireland. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 nurses employed in general practice.

Extra qualifications and training

A practice nurse may have extra qualifications as a:

  • Registered midwife
  • Registered sick children’s nurse
  • Registered mental health nurse
  • Registered nurse (intellectual disabilities)
  • Registered nurse prescriber

Practice nurses may have also done:

  • stand-alone modules in the management of long-term conditions
  • relevant postgraduate programmes

Professional development coordinators

The professional development coordinators for practice nursing (PDCPN) are employees of the HSE.


  • have responsibility for the strategic development of practice nursing
  • provide guidance and direction for practice nursing
  • work as the link between the HSE and practice nurses
  • facilitate education and continuing professional and role development
  • collaborate with relevant healthcare professionals, educational bodies and other stakeholders

The PDCPNs acknowledge and respect the private employment contract between a practice nurse and the GP as employer.


The National Group of the Professional Development Coordinators for Practice Nursing work towards:

  • the integration and recognition of practice nursing as a key role in primary care
  • supporting educational, professional and role development of practice nurses
  • providing evidence based standards of nursing for patients within general practice


All practice nurses will have access to continuing professional development (CPD). This will support evidence based, people-centred care in general practice.