Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

In the United States, nursing is one of the most sought-after careers to go into. What’s more, a career in nursing is said to be one of the most rewarding too. By 2026, there is expected to be a lot of growth, meaning there are more nursing roles expected to be created.

If you’re passionate about helping those in need and making a positive difference in the community, a nurse practitioner role may be suited to you. Whether you’re already a registered nurse and want to propel your career forward, or you’re thinking of jumping into the nursing sector, here are some attributes you’ll need to succeed as a nurse practitioner. 

Effective Communication

One of the mandatory skills all nurse practitioners need to master is the art of communication. On a typical day, you will interact with patients from all walks of life. This means you need to relay information accurately and in easy-to-follow terms. A successful nurse practitioner makes their patient and family members feel understood. 

As a nurse practitioner, you must have excellent written and verbal communication, and be able to understand a doctor’s orders. Not only will you engage with patients, but you will also be part of a team too. To ensure patients receive the right care and treatment, you will need to communicate with your team, so everyone knows where they stand. 

Compassion

When patients arrive, many are understandably frightened and anxious about what to expect. Regardless of the extent of your patient’s injuries, all nurse practitioners must have empathy and compassion. How you conduct yourself with patients matters, so having a level of understanding and seeing the situation from their viewpoint is important. 

To succeed as a nurse practitioner, you need to be aware that every patient has different needs. The prominent reason why nurses go into the field is to help the sick and injured. While you should have empathy for their pain and suffering, you need to find the right balance. This is because the emotional load may become too much to bear and interfere with your life outside of work. If you want to become an NP, it’s not the right role for overly sensitive individuals. 

Patience

You can never be too sure who is going to come through the hospital door. While some patients will be more than happy to disclose information and follow your orders, others will be agitated and nervous. It’s your job as an NP to have patience and understand that your patient may be reacting the way they are out of fear. 

The last thing you should do is lose your temper or show any signs of frustration to patients. This will not only look unprofessional but cause your patient to close up and be fearful of speaking up. Although it can be challenging when a patient doesn’t listen to what you say, you have to see things from their side. If a patient feels anxious, doing what you can to calm them down is key. 

Attention to Detail

There is no room for error when working as a nurse practitioner. When analyzing a diagnosis, you may notice something that a rushed doctor does not. Having attention to detail is crucial for providing the right care for patients. Small mistakes can lead to tragic results, so you must be fully alert when on shift. 

Some of the daily duties of an NP include filling out healthcare records and insurance forms, so you need to take your time writing them, so you don’t make any blunders. An incorrect diagnosis for a patient can lead to treatment and medication that can have disastrous consequences. Therefore, paying close attention to detail is essential for every nurse practitioner. 

Flexibility

If you aspire to work as a nurse practitioner, another characteristic you’ll need is to be flexible. Not only will you be dealing with patients from all walks of life, but you may also be asked to work long hours or cover shifts for others. You don’t want to burn out, so you need to find the right balance between being flexible and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

There are some NP’s who take flexibility to another level, by working a variety of shifts. You may find yourself working evenings, at the weekend, or during the holidays. One of the main advantages of doing any of the three is you can potentially earn a higher paycheck. For those who don’t have children or lots of commitments at home, being flexible with your work can be financially lucrative. 

Time Management

While time management skills are mandatory in most jobs, they’re imperative for nurse practitioners. This is because you’re expected to stick to a routine and see as many patients as you can while ensuring they’re given enough time to discuss their injuries and situation. Effective time management allows you to get more work done, provide a higher level of care, and ensure you meet any deadlines set.

Should you have poor time management skills, this can cause problems for other members of your team. Being organized from the beginning will pay off and show that you’re dedicated to your craft. Some of the best ways to boost your time management skills are by arriving early for your shift to prepare, prioritizing your workload, and engaging with colleagues. 

Passion

Nurse practitioners must be passionate about their work. If you’re not passionate about nursing and helping others, you may be in the wrong profession. Many nurses thrive in their roles and thoroughly enjoy knowing their hard work and dedication make a real difference to other people’s lives. No two days are the same as an NP, so you need to have the drive and motivation to perform at your best.

When dealing with patients, they can tell within an instant whether your heart is in nursing or not. If you believe you can carry out the duties expected of an NP and don’t let any obstacles stop you, a nurse practitioner role may be perfect for you. 

Ability to Work Well Under Pressure

As a nurse practitioner, you’ll be treating all kinds of patients. Unfortunately, there will be instances where your stress levels are tested. If a patient isn’t following your orders or acting aggressively, you need to maintain your composure, deliver the right care, and ask for help when necessary. 

If you’re not able to work in tense environments and situations, a nurse practitioner job may not be suited to you. Healthcare settings can be very intense. However, your patients will look at you to stay calm, which lets you do your job properly. You don’t want to cause your patients to stress too. Instead, giving them peace of mind that you’re fully in control is imperative. 

Commitment to Lifelong Learning

When you step into an NP role, you need to be prepared for a career that involves lifelong learning. There is always something new to learn in the role. Whether it’s new medical procedures, medications, or learning the best practices to deliver the right care, all nurse practitioners must commit to lifelong learning. 

Once you’re out of nursing school and are armed with the clinical knowledge needed to begin your job, that doesn’t mean you know the A-Z. There will be training programs you’ll be expected to go on which will broaden your skillset, enhance your understanding of the role, and above anything else, ensure patients are in safe hands with you. 

Stamina

If you’re currently working as a registered nurse, you’ll know only too well the importance of having stamina. However, once you begin working as a nurse practitioner, the added duties and responsibilities will mean you need to be full of energy before and during a shift. NPs find themselves on their feet for the majority of their shift, so you need to be fit and healthy throughout. 

You should already know that nursing is a demanding field that requires emotional, physical, and mental strength. There are minor lifestyle changes you can make that will help you perform better as an NP. These include following a balanced diet, getting more sleep each night, and performing regular exercise.

Leadership

For NPs who want to go to the next level and enter managerial roles, being an effective leader is a must. You need to show authority, be able to motivate and inspire your team and be confident in your abilities. When tough situations arise, you need to take charge and be confident in your decision-making. 

Having a positive attitude, developing people skills, and knowing how to delegate are essential components of leadership. Once you know how to take charge and gain the respect of your peers, this can help you move up the career ladder and seek higher paid positions. 

If you aspire to work as a nurse practitioner, you must learn and utilize the skills above to help you carry out your daily duties helping those in need. While most of the attributes are learned during nursing school, others you’ll develop on the job. 

If you’re ready to take the plunge and become an NP, becoming a registered nurse first, and gaining the right qualifications will set you up for a successful career in nursing. 

Education