Advanced Skills That All Nurse Practitioners Need

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A career in nursing will see you working in one of the most demanding and fast-paced yet incredibly rewarding careers in the world today. Most nurses love what they do despite the demands of the job since it’s a highly satisfying, rewarding type of work where they have the chance to make a real difference to the lives of others and provide care, support and help to people who need it most on a daily basis. Nursing is a career path that is expected to see a huge amount of growth over the next decade. Currently, there’s a huge shortage of nurses across the world, and particularly in the US where an aging population is only adding to the problem, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sadly taken the lives of some nurses and other healthcare professionals and further highlighted why having good nurses in healthcare is now more important than ever. 

Whether you want to get started with pursuing a career in nursing or are currently working as a registered nurse and want to advance your future career, there has never been a better time than right now to take advantage of the high level of demand for nurses and the thousands of nursing career positions that are set to be opened up in the future. Along with a demand for registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses such as family nurse practitioners are also experiencing high demand to fill the gap left by the current shortage of primary care physicians and ensure that the aging population has access to the level and standard of healthcare that they need and expect. 

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

To work as a nurse practitioner, you will need to begin your career journey by qualifying as a registered nurse. The best way to do this is to get a BSN or bachelor’s degree in nursing, which is usually the minimum qualification that will be required for you to get onto a master’s degree program or other postgraduate nurse practitioner training program to prepare you for the role. Most of the time, nurse practitioner training programs will require applicants to have gained a certain number of years’ experience in the field as a nurse due to the advanced nature and responsibility of this role. 

Skills You Need as a Nurse Practitioner

To work as a nurse practitioner, it is not only important to have the right credentials, qualifications, and experience. Nurse practitioners are increasingly being hired to step in and fill roles that have been left open due to a shortage of primary care physicians, meaning that they need to be highly skilled professionals with a set of qualities that allow them to successfully work directly with patients to provide a more advanced level of care compared to registered nurses. Some of the top skills that are required of nurse practitioners include:

Critical Thinking

Any healthcare profession will usually require you to be good at critical thinking, including the ability to make the right decision in a short amount of time. If you’re already working as a registered nurse, you’ll probably already be more than aware of the importance of having this skill when it comes to successfully working in your role. Nurse practitioners are required to have a high level of critical thinking skills due to the fact that they are also always in a leadership or management position along with being responsible for direct care of patients. In many situations, a nurse practitioner’s critical thinking skills will lead them to make decisions that hold a lot of weight and have a large impact on patient care and outcomes. 

Communication

A nurse practitioner needs to be a professional with excellent communication skills. Not only will these skills serve you well when you are working as part of a team with other healthcare professionals, but you’ll also need to be able to effectively communicate with your patients in high-pressure situations where you might be dealing with people who are in pain, scared, or upset. Along with being able to get information across clearly and excellent active listening skills that they will employ when speaking with patients, nurse practitioners also have to have a keen understanding of non-verbal communication and be able to pick up on what patients might be trying to tell them if they are struggling to get the information across verbally. 

As a nurse practitioner, your communication skills are highly important to patient outcomes, since you will be tasked with providing patients with more information on how to best manage their health and wellbeing, including treatment options and preventative measures. A BSN to FNP program from Marymount University can help you learn more about the importance of communication in this role, but for most professionals, it’s interacting with patients and practicing first-hand that has the biggest impact. 

Compassion and Empathy

Any nurse knows just how important it is to have empathy for their patients. In this role you might be dealing with patients who are aggressive or rude because they are in pain and fearing for themselves and their health. A good nurse knows that it’s not personal and can understand why a patient might be acting this way due to the situation that they have found themselves in. As a nurse practitioner, you might be the first healthcare professional that a patient will see when they need help, support and advice with a health situation, such as the symptoms of illness or an injury. A good nurse practitioner can immediately imagine how a patient must be feeling right now even if they have never personally experienced the same thing themselves. They have a strong ability to put themselves in the shoes of the patient and treat every patient that they see with empathy and compassion. 

Adaptability

Nurse practitioners may be responsible for patient care, but this can change a lot in the healthcare industry. As a nurse practitioner, you will need to be ready to adapt to changes and adjustments to policies, procedures, equipment, tools, medications, treatments, new research findings, and new diseases. Healthcare is one industry that is evolving and changing rapidly due to the current fast and regular advancements in technology, leading to a wide range of changes that all healthcare professionals need to be ready to move with. Along with this, many roles for nurse practitioners will require a high degree of adaptability to be successful in the role. Nurse practitioners will often need to deal with situations that could change quickly at any moment, and new developments with a patient will need to be adapted to and deal with quickly in order to ensure that the patient has the best outcome. 

Attention to Detail

Nurses know that there is no room for making mistakes and errors while working in this career. As a nurse practitioner, it’s important to have a strong skill when it comes to observation and attention to detail. Nurse practitioners face serious risks for themselves and their patients if they make even the smallest of errors or don’t do a job thoroughly enough. They need to be highly focused on the work that they are doing at all times, and able to avoid distractions of any kind. The best fit for a nurse practitioner role is somebody who is meticulous about doing the right thing and dedicated to ensuring that they complete all tasks thoroughly and correctly. This is especially true in states where nurse practitioners have full practice authority and are able to work independently of a primary care physician, since there is nobody there to cast their eye over the work and provide authorization. 

Confidence

In twenty states, nurse practitioners are permitted to work with full practice authority, meaning that they can run their own practices and work independently without the need for supervision and authorization from a primary care physician. In these roles, nurse practitioners have a high level of career autonomy and often have the final say or decision when it comes to patient care, meaning that it’s crucial that they are professionals with a high level of confidence in themselves. A good nurse practitioner needs to be confident in their own abilities, which they can achieve by being dedicated to improving their knowledge and keeping their skills up to date. Nurse practitioners will typically gain more confidence in themselves and their abilities as they gain more experience, but also understand the importance of helping themselves by keeping their knowledge and expertise up to scratch. 

Commitment

Along with keeping their knowledge up to scratch to achieve high self-confidence, nurse practitioners need to be committed to learning new things in order to ensure that they are always performing their best. Any nurse knows that when it comes to continuing their education, things are never complete in this career. A family nurse practitioner will need to gain a lot of advanced qualifications and undergo advanced training to get into this role. Healthcare is one of the most dynamic industries worldwide, and nurse practitioners need to be consistently ready to stay up to date with all the new changes and advancements that are being made in this industry on a consistent basis. 

Leadership

Nurse practitioners often find themselves in a management or leadership role along with being responsible for the care of patients. In many roles, nurse practitioners are tasked with the supervision and management of other healthcare professionals, along with mentorship of trainees and student nurses who are gaining experience on the job. To successfully work as a nurse practitioner, it’s important for nurses to focus on developing strong leadership and management skills. Nurse practitioners are often in charge of inspiring, motivating and leading teams, especially when it comes to the improvement of patient care. Along with advanced training in patient care, nurse practitioners will also be required to undergo training in business administration, workplace policies, vetting and hiring employees, scheduling, and other business tasks. 

Ethics

Nurse practitioners are advanced level registered nurses who are often trusted to do the best job without the need for supervision. A good nurse practitioner should be somebody who holds both themselves and others to the highest of ethical standards. Successful nurse practitioners know just how important it is for them to always do the right thing regardless of the situation. Ethical standards are something that just come naturally to the best nurse practitioners and there is no doubt in their mind when it comes to making the right decision on behalf of their patients. 

Both inside and outside of their workplace, nurse practitioners have a strong ethical framework that must be adhered to at all times. Nurse practitioners need to hold themselves accountable to good ethical standards at all times, and should not be afraid to speak out if they see or hear anything unethical going on around them. These professionals are often looked up to and should be prepared to set a shining example for providing the best standard of patient care. 

Mental and Physical Strength

Nurses at every level need to be physically and mentally strong to keep up with the high demand of this job. As a nurse practitioner, this role can often put you in some demanding and stressful situations that involve being under a lot of mental pressure when it comes to making the best decisions in the best interest of your patients. A good nurse practitioner is always prepared to put themselves first to make sure that they can do their job well. Nurse practitioners need to be committed to keeping themselves physically and mentally strong and healthy, allowing them to provide the best standards of care and keep a clear, focused mind for making the best decisions. 

Working as a nurse practitioner requires not only an advanced nursing qualification, but also an advanced set of skills. If you want to advance your nursing career and get into a nurse practitioner role, these are just some of the main skills and qualities to focus on when it comes to your professional development. 

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