Choosing a nursing career means that you are going to be working in one of the most demanding and fast-paced careers in the world today. However, many nurses love what they do and wouldn’t change it even when it gets demanding and stressful, as this line of work is also one of the most satisfying and rewarding. Nursing is expected to see a lot of growth as a career over the next decade, with nurses in higher demand than ever before due to a shortage of professionals that has only been highlighted by the events of the past few years with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The healthcare system needs to meet a growing demand for not only registered nurses, but also advanced practice registered nurses such as nurse practitioners. As fewer medical students are choosing to focus on primary care and instead going into more specialist areas, family nurse practitioners are in increasing demand as they are hired to step in and fill this gap so that patients can continue to get the standard of healthcare that they have come to expect.
If you want to pursue a future career in nursing or are already working as a registered nurse and considering moving up the career ladder, there has never been a better time to consider working as a nurse practitioner. The role offers various specialty areas that you may want to pursue depending on your strengths and interests, and the high demand means that once qualified, there’s no shortage of work available.
Whether you are interested in getting into a primary care role or are interested in a certain area of healthcare that you would like to focus more heavily on and earn more responsibility in, becoming a nurse practitioner can help you fulfil your career goals. With full practice authority in more than twenty states, nurse practitioners have more responsibility and autonomy than registered nurses and enjoy higher rates of pay.
If you’re considering a career as a nurse practitioner, then some of the main skills and qualities that you will need to be successful in this career path include:
Critical Thinking Skills
If you are already working as a registered nurse, you’ll know just how important it is to be able to think critically in a nursing role. Nurse practitioners often need to make quick decisions on their feet that require them to think critically even when under pressure. In this role, you need to be the type of person who can thrive working under pressure and make the best decisions even when in a stressful situation.
Since nurse practitioners have more responsibilities and autonomy compared to registered nurses, they need to be able to remain calm, think critically, and ultimately make the best decisions for their patients at any given time. Nurse practitioners are also often highly involved in patient advocacy and healthcare policymaking; another area where critical thinking can be a key strength.
The main role of a nurse practitioner involves finding out more about what the patient is experiencing to provide an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. This is especially true for nurse practitioners who are hired to fill primary care roles, as they will be working in a role that is quite similar to that of a primary care physician. In order to succeed in this role, it’s vital for nurse practitioners to develop excellent communication skills.
Communication skills are crucial in nursing so this is an area that you will get a lot of chances to practice and develop throughout your career as a registered nurse before undergoing further education such as online FNP programs to take your career up a level. Nurse practitioners need to have excellent all-round communication skills including excellent active listening skills and a strong understanding of non-verbal communication as often patients might not be able to put what they are feeling or experiencing into words.
They should also be able to clearly communicate instructions in a way that is easy to understand since they tend to also be responsible for providing advice and instructions to patients when it comes to the treatment and medication that they prescribe or refer to.
Compassion and Empathy
In any nursing role, empathy and compassion are two main qualities that are needed to succeed. A good nurse practitioner is somebody who is naturally empathetic and has the ability to put themselves in the position of their patient and imagine how they must be feeling at the time. In this helping relationship, nurse practitioners need to be skilled at holding space for each patient and giving them the attention and compassion required to discuss the problems that they are experiencing, meeting patients with understanding and kindness regardless of the situation.
Often, nurse practitioners may deal with patients who are nervous or fearful for various reasons, and they need to be able to demonstrate to their patients that they are an individual who can be trusted with sensitive healthcare information and things that the patient might not feel comfortable disclosing to somebody else, in order to ensure that they can receive the best standards of care.
Like many helping and caring professions, a non-judgmental attitude is essential to get further in a role as a nurse practitioner. In the nurse practitioner role, you might find that you are spending each day working with people from all walks of life, and from situations and backgrounds that you might not always agree with or understand.
To be successful in this role, it’s important for nurse practitioners to be committed to upholding standards of equality and diversity and ensuring that each patient is treated with the same level of compassion and high standards of care regardless of their personal qualities, background or situation.
In the role, you may often be working with patients whose life decisions have led to the health situation that they have found themselves in; a good nurse practitioner never judges, but instead seeks to understand why the patient has made these decisions in order to be in a position where they can offer a standard of care that will help them turn things around and enjoy better health.
To work successfully as a nurse practitioner, you need to be confident in yourself and your abilities as a nurse. This is because in the majority of US states, nurse practitioners work autonomously and are trusted to make the right judgement calls and decisions without the need for their work to be signed off by a superior. This is especially true of family nurse practitioners who are more often in positions where they are left to work independently filling the role of a primary care physician in a doctor’s office or similar healthcare setting.
As a nurse practitioner, it’s important to be invested in your personal development, which in turn will raise your confidence in your own abilities as an advanced healthcare professional. Nurse practitioners need to be committed to keeping their knowledge and expertise current and up to date, being proactive about learning new things and not being afraid to double-check or test their knowledge if they feel it is needed.
While the main role of a nurse practitioner is to care for others, it’s just as important that these advanced nursing professionals are highly skilled at self-care. In order to be the best for your patients, you need to be committed to looking after yourself and ensuring that you remain mentally and physically strong while working in this role.
There is no denying that any nursing role, including that of a nurse practitioner, can be draining in every possible way. Nurse practitioners might work long hours, or deal with situations that can be quite traumatic. It’s important that if you want to work in this role, you take the time to develop the skills that you need to put your own health and wellbeing first, look after yourself and understand what works best for you when it comes to managing your stress levels and keeping yourself as healthy as possible, so that you can show up for your patients each day and provide the best standards of care.
Nurse practitioners are trusted to get on with their job independently in over twenty US states. They are expected to have high ethical standards and a high level of integrity, which means always doing the right thing regardless of the situation, and even if nobody will know.
A good nurse practitioner is somebody who will hold themselves and others around them to the highest of ethical standards. Patients always come first, and nurse practitioners should prioritize patient care and upholding patient dignity at all times.
The best nurse practitioners have a high level of respect for each patient that comes through the door and are prepared to call out any unethical behaviors that they might see. These advanced practice nurses are expected to take a holistic and humanitarian approach to their work and put patients at the forefront of everything that they do.
Commitment to Learning
If you want to work in any nursing career, then you need to be prepared for ongoing learning. Education in this career path is never finished no matter what level of degree you have achieved or how many post-graduate certificates you’ve gained. The healthcare industry is always changing with new information that brings about different ways to treat certain conditions, new patient care policies, and even new diseases such as the COVID19 virus that nurse practitioners will need to quickly adapt to and learn more about in order to ensure that their patients continue to experience the same standards of care that they are used to.
Because of this, anybody who is interested in a career as a nurse practitioner needs to be committed to learning new things throughout their career. Even the most experienced and highly trained nurse practitioners will find that there is always something new to learn whether that involves getting familiar with new policies, learning how to operate new healthcare equipment, or learning about a new disease.
Patient care is not the only responsibility involved in the role of a nurse practitioner. In this role, you may also find that you are responsible for the management and supervision of other healthcare professionals including registered nurses, or mentoring trainees and students. Some nurse practitioners run clinics, including family nurse practitioners or retail health nurse practitioners, so good leadership skills are a must for anybody interested in working in this role.
For nurse practitioners that are responsible for running their own clinic or practice, it’s important to not only have good leadership skills with other healthcare professionals but also when managing admin and support staff, who will play a key role in keeping the clinic running smoothly. Developing your skills in mentoring, coaching, organization, management, and inspiring others through setting a good example can all help you get on the right path to success in a nurse practitioner role.
Finally, adaptability is a hugely important quality for many nurse practitioner roles. While you will have time to prepare for lots of the changes that are bound to take place in your role or in the healthcare environment as a whole, sometimes things might change without any warning. Some nurse practitioners such as neonatal nurse practitioners might work with patients that are more prone to experiencing sudden changes in their condition, which requires a high level of adaptability to quickly weigh up the situation and decide the next steps to take without interrupting patient care.
Along with this, the healthcare industry is very dynamic with new developments occurring all the time. Nurse practitioners need to be ready to learn new skills or adapt to new policies often with very short notice, without missing a beat when it comes to the standard of patient care that they provide.
Nurse practitioners are in very high demand, providing a vital service to patients in many areas of healthcare. If you’re interested in getting into this career, work on developing these important skills and personal qualities.