OBJECTIVE: to understand the meaning of nursing care in primary health care from the perspective of Chilean nurses.
METHOD: this was a qualitative study based on the social phenomenology of Alfred Schutz. Data was collected between January and April 2013, through interviews with 13 primary health care nurses in Chile.
RESULTS: the nurses perceived primary care as a gratifying experience, considering it an encounter of subjectivities. However, they felt burdened with multiple functions and by the hierarchical pressure to achieve targets. They strived to implement innovative care, expressed by the desire to go beyond traditional care practices, and improve the efficiency of management at the various levels of health care.
CONCLUSION: it is important to discuss the results of the present study in the context of health care and especially nursing education, with the goal of better preparing nurses who will deliver care at the primary health care level.
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