Nursing is one of the most physically and mentally demanding careers in the world, but nurses will also describe the work that they do as the most rewarding and satisfying. Due to a nursing shortage and a shortage of primary care physicians throughout the US, nursing is a career that is expected to see a huge amount of growth in the next decade. Nursing jobs are expected to be created in the hundreds of thousands across the country in the future, and along with this, more nurse practitioners are expected to step in to fill the gap caused by the shortage of medical doctors. Nurse practitioners are becoming increasingly important healthcare practitioners in the industry, with most states permitting them to practice independently to diagnose, prescribe, and care for patients without the supervision of a physician. Nurse practitioners need to have a distinct set of skills and qualities, including:
Due to the shortage of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners are increasingly becoming the first point of contact for patients who need help or advice about their health. Along with often being the primary medical practitioner that patients will visit, nurse practitioners are also tasked with advocating for their patients and improving the standards of healthcare in general. They need to have excellent communication skills since they are often the professionals who will be explaining diagnoses to patients, providing guidelines regarding medications and treatments, and providing counseling and advice about general health and wellbeing to patients.
Critical Thinking Skills
Nurse practitioners need to be highly skilled at critical thinking and making fast decisions which could sometimes have a huge impact on a patient. This is especially true for nurse practitioners who work in a hospital setting where there are likely to be more emergencies and sudden changes to patients compared to a general health clinic. The ability to think critically and make the best decisions in a short space of time while remaining calm and level-headed even in a crisis situation is one of the most important skills for any good nurse practitioner to develop.
Empathy and Compassion
While many believe that empathy and compassion are qualities that come naturally and there are certainly more people who are more empathetic than others, they are skills that you can learn and improve over time. Nurse practitioners need to be able to easily imagine how their patients must be feeling and be compassionate toward them in their time of need. They need to be able to do this in order to build trusting, strong relationships with patients who know that the nurse practitioner has their best interests at heart.
To be successful in their careers, nurse practitioners need to be highly ethical professionals who commit themselves to always doing the right thing by their patients. Patients put their trust in nurse practitioners to make the right choices for their health on their behalf and ensure that they get the right diagnoses and treatments. As advocates for their patients, nurse practitioners must hold themselves to the highest standards of ethics and be accountable for every decision that they make. Ethics in nursing are a very important part of the career, and are often intertwined in every aspect of the online nurse practitioner programs that are available for nurses who are looking to move into this area of the profession.
There is no room for errors and mistakes in the career of nursing, with even the smallest decisions often having large impacts on patients. Nurse practitioners in particular need to be extremely detail-oriented since they are often responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of patients in a primary care setting. Nurse practitioners need to be acutely aware of the risks of making even the smallest mistakes in their career, which could have disastrous results for patients who are affected. Whether they are taking samples of blood for testing or prescribing medication to a patient, a good nurse practitioner understands the need to be meticulous in every step.
Ability to Adapt
The healthcare industry and the jobs of nurses and nurse practitioners are subject to constant change. As a result, one of the most important skills for any nursing professional to possess is the ability to quicky adapt to changing situations and learn new skills that are required to keep up with the job. Developments in healthcare are always leading to new techniques, machinery, equipment, and even new diseases like COVID-19 that nurses and nurse practitioners need to be ready to adapt to in their line of work, sometimes at very short notice.
Many nurse practitioners are now running independent clinics and health centers, which means that they are often tasked with leading teams of healthcare professionals. Because of this, leadership skills are often essential for a nurse practitioner to have. Good nurse practitioners are often exceptional leaders and managers, making sure that professionals are working well together and that everything is communicated clearly.
Commitment to Learning
The most successful nurse practitioners understand that there is always going to be something new to learn in their field. One of the main things that often attracts nurses to this profession is that it is definitely not a field that will go stagnant. To be successful in their career, nurse practitioners need to be dedicated to consistently learning new things and improving on their current knowledge. Many nurse practitioners have a lifelong love of learning and are always looking to improve their knowledge and become a better professional in their field.
Finally, a nurse practitioner should be somebody who is confident in his or her abilities to treat their patients. Since many states now allow nurse practitioners to practice without the supervision of a primary care physician, these professionals need to be committed to staying up to date and refreshing their knowledge, so that they are confident in their abilities. They also need to know where to go for help when it is needed, and make sure that they are confident in every decision that they make.
The demand for nurse practitioners is growing as these professionals become a highly important part of bridging the gap caused by the shortage of primary care physicians in the US. Those considering getting into this career will need to develop these important skills.