Update 14 May 2020
Health care reform and the aging baby boomer population are among the reasons for the increase in demand for qualified health care providers. Health care professionals of every kind are required to fill the gaps and lessen the stress of the health care professional shortage.
Specialty nurse practitioners (such as family nurse practitioners) are uniquely qualified to bridge these gaps and the job outlook projects growth through 2028 per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, by 2032, the projected shortage of primary care physicians is expected to reach as high as 55,200. There is no better time for an individual with nurse practitioner ambitions to pursue degree advancement.
Those looking for online options can now find accredited qualified MSN-FNP programs such as the one offered through Carson-Newman.
Nurse practitioners work throughout many areas of patient care. They are nurses first and foremost and implement the care and compassion of the nursing process during all patient encounters. Nurse practitioners have obtained at least a master’s degree in nursing as a baseline degree, and some have pursued doctorates.
Any kind of nursing is challenging, but the position of nurse practitioner has additional responsibilities. Nurses have earned the status of the most trusted profession for fifteen years in a row from Gallup.
Collectively, nurses exude caring, compassion, integrity, and dedication to optimal patient outcomes. The ever-changing health care environment demands flexibility, creativity, and at times sheer tenacity to get through the day, and the position of nurse practitioner has additional responsibilities that increase the need for clarity, advocacy, communication and interpersonal relations.
The qualities of a nurse practitioner are qualities that many strive to emulate.
Beyond Caring: Nurse Practitioners Prescribe Medication and Diagnose Illness
Nurse practitioners can work independently in many states. They are licensed medical clinicians that can assess, diagnose, treat illness and prescribe medications. They can order and interpret labs and tests. Nurse practitioners counsel and educate patients at an advanced level.
The additional responsibilities and expectations of the position demand a unique set of skills and personal qualities. In addition to quality education preparedness, the best nurse practitioners possess a combination of personal attributes and professional soft skills that contribute to accurate assessment through communication, patient education and compliance, and ultimately improved patient outcomes.
Mental and Physical Endurance
Successful nurse practitioners must have both psychological and physical endurance. Sometimes the job requires long hours on your feet to see all the patients that need care. Patients are scared, in pain, grieving, angry, confused or depressed. Patients are not always pleasant, patient or appreciative for many reasons.
The NP needs to be able to provide valuable treatment, education, and empathy for all patients, and it is no easy task. He or she has to be introspective, accept criticism, and handle stress well.
Enthusiasm, Optimism, and Advocacy
In addition to mental and physical endurance, patient advocacy is one of the most important qualities of a nurse practitioner. An excellent candidate will meet each passing hour and patient with the same passion and attentiveness as the first. The last patient of the day deserves the same patience, care, concern, and energy as the first patient. Great nurse practitioners have strong people skills, pure and simple. They advocate for their patient’s best interests.
Outstanding Communication Skills
Some say that the quality of the answer depends on the quality of the original question. Nowhere is this truer than in health care. It takes skills and active listening to hear a patient’s own words and perception of his illness, but there is golden information there if the practitioner only listens.
A patient begins to heal when he or she believes his or her concern has been honestly heard. Active listening is as critical as stellar diagnostic skills. A nurse practitioner uses therapeutic listening skills at all times. He or she has to translate difficult information into something the patient can understand and follow.
Communication must be kind, directive, empathetic and meaningful regardless of the recipient. Language barriers, diagnosis barriers, pain, confusion, fear, anger, and so many other hurdles to effective communication exist, and the NP must leap them all to get the job done.
Nurse Practitioners Have a Multitude of Skills and Attributes
Soft skills, hard skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills and all-around people skills are just a few of their beneficial baseline qualities of a nurse practitioner. It isn’t enough to be a top-of-your class graduate to be a great nurse practitioner. The position requires quantifiable hard skills obtained through education and certification, but they aren’t enough.
The successful nurse practitioner must also possess soft skills which are interpersonal skills such as communication, active listening, and empathy. Employers and patients demand them. Not only are they essential for optimal patient outcomes, but they also contribute significantly to overall job satisfaction for the nurse practitioner.