A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

Whether you are already working as a registered practicing nurse, just about to complete your nursing training or are you working in an entirely different field altogether, if you are considering training to become a nurse practitioner, then you have certainly come to the right place.

Here, for your information and of course reading pleasure, is a comprehensive guide on how to become a nurse practitioner.

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The Primary Roles of a Nurse Practitioner

Before you learn how to become a registered and practicing family nurse practitioner, it is first necessary to know what the primary roles, duties and responsibilities such a career pathway will demand of you.

Such a rewarding and (naturally) as equally challenging job as a nurse practitioner will involve substantial variation from day to day, however there are a number of standard duties you will be expected to perform and several obligatory responsibilities you will have.

Typical roles of a nurse practitioner include, but are categorically in no way limited to, the following:

  • The administering of treatments, medicine and other medical procedures and help 
  • Communicating, consulting and building strong working bonds with other medical professionals 
  • The diagnosis of a myriad of different health problems and issues
  • The creation and monitoring of individual care plans for patients
  • Contributing to and editing existing care plans for patients
  • Operating and monitoring a variety of medical equipment and technologies
  • The training of patients, as well as their family members, in how to live with and manage their illness and to have the best quality of life possible
  • The recording of individual patientโ€™s symptoms and medical histories
  • The administering, ordering and analyzing of different diagnostic tests
  • The performing of patient observations and physical examinations

The Main Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner

As you have now been made aware of, the role of a nurse practitioner is a multi-faceted, diverse and complex one, and as such there are a number of mandatory prerequisites, as well as more than a few advisory, educational requirements, including the following:

  • APN Authorization in the particular state where you are employed or indeed intend to work, authorized by the Board of Nursing Examiners and relating to family health
  • Excellent written communication skills and verbal communication skills
  • Advanced proficiency in the use of medical equipment and medical instruments which are needed both on a daily basis and those which are used less often
  • An advanced knowledge in the field of diseases and disease prevention
  • A wealth of experience in matters of the provision of primary and secondary care working as a family health nurse practitioner
  • A detailed understanding and knowledge of both pertinent state and federal regulations, including OSHA and HIPAA to name just two
  • Authorization to give out prescriptions for medicine
  • Registered Nurse licensing awarded by the state in which you are employed or intend to be employed 
  • To be certified by the ANCC or ANPP boards
  • A strong working knowledge of computer information systems and computer-based management and data programs and how they integrate with point of interview technologies and individual patientโ€™s medical records 

Skills & Personality Attributes Needed to Succeed as a Nurse Practitioner

Importantly there are a number of educational requirements you must not only be able to fulfil, but more pertinently (especially in this modern and challenging world) be able to prove you have undertaken to the relevant institutions and individuals, there are also some necessary skillsets, areas of knowledge and personality attributes which also will help you succeed.

Personality attributes, areas of knowledge and expertise and skills which will be incredibly useful to a budding nurse practitioner include, but are in no way limited to, the following:

  1. Clinical Instruction

There is no possible way that you will be able to excel as a family nurse practitioner without being able to provide concise, sound and useful clinical instruction, both to individual nurses and other medical staff, as well as addressing a larger group. 

To do this, you need to be aware of the basic skills involved in teaching and be able to translate these skills into a clinical and medical setting, with such teaching skills including:

  • The ability to remain calm and reasonable in intensely stressful situations
  • To be open to change and be as flexible as possible
  • Strong verbal communication
  • A basic knowledge of organizing large numbers of staff
  • Patience, patience and more patience 
  1. Communication

Communication is perhaps one of (if not the) most important skills you will need to become a nurse practitioner. This includes how you communicate with your peers, your colleagues, your seniors, your nurses, the patients, the families and the doctors, as well as a host of other medical professionals. You will need to be able to connect with these different โ€˜audiencesโ€™ and ensure that you are passing on the information in a way that can be best understood. 

As a family health nurse practitioner, it is essential to know how to handle an incredibly difficult conversation, as well as knowing how to convey effectively exceedingly sensitive information and updates on individual patientโ€™s progress. In addition, a good nurse practitioner will also be able to communicate effectively to their team and will encourage a collaborative, honest and open working environment. 

  1. A Strong Working Knowledge of Technology

Whether you like it or you do not, technology is proverbially part and parcel of every aspect of the medical world, as it is extremely prolific in every other industry too.

As a result, it is essential as a potential family health nurse practitioner to have a good working knowledge of not only the particular technologies which you will use day-to-day, bit also a background in the programs which store vital information and data about the hospital and the patients.

With more and more health and medical databases moving to the electronic format rather than pen and paper, even when it comes to the patient health charts at the bottom of each bed, you should know how to operate such programs and be able to access everything you need at any time. 

  1. High Standards of Safety & Quality

Naturally, especially after the trials and tribulations brought about by the outbreak of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, matters pertaining to health and safety in the medical workplace are at an all-time high.

These days, there are incredibly stringent rules and regulations in place, not only to protect the needs, wants and welfare of the patients, but also the medical professionals as well. Therefore, as a family health nurse practitioner it is important to be aware of not only the standardized rules, but also any changes that occur and be ready to implement such changes at the proverbial drop of a hat. 

  1. A Deep Desire to Improve Basic Nursing Practice

There is no family health nurse practitioner, either in the United States or internationally, who has taken their role having absolutely no intention to pursue and fight for the rights of nurses, as well as to improve nursing practice across the board.

As such, a desire for change and the belief that you can make an actual and positive difference to nursing practice should be one of the foundational reasons why you are wanting to elevate your career to the level of nurse practitioner. 

  1. Natural Problem-Solving Skills

Another skill which will stand you in incredibly good stead in your new role as a nursing practitioner is that of the ability to quickly and effectively solve a problem; even if said problem could be an incredibly multi-faceted and complex one. 

Fortunately, there is a myriad of tried and tested ways to become more adept at problem-solving, including the following, to name but a few:

  • Always get a good nightโ€™s sleep (even more important as a hardworking nurse!)
  • Make sure you get enough physical exercise 
  • Ensure that you are taking care of your own emotional health and wellbeing
  • Get used to carrying around a small notebook and pen 
  • Learn some basic yoga and other calming and relaxing techniques
  • Use mind maps
  • Create psychological distance from the problem for a short time
  • Distract yourself with music whilst on a break
  1. Executive & Authoritative Leadership

Finally, perhaps most importantly of all, one skillset you absolutely have to excel in if you are serious, passionate and committed to the pursuit of a career move into becoming a nurse practitioner, is that of executive and authoritative leadership. 

Executive leadership is essentially a high level of skill in guiding, leading and influencing nurses who are working within your department, in both a professional manner and also being there as a confidant and work associate as well.

There are a number of ways you can work on your skills at leadership, including the following:

  • Work to amplify and use your strengths as well as working to improve your weaknesses
  • Engage in regular self-reflection and self-analysis both in a professional and personal context
  • Always strive to be as enthusiastic, energetic and positive as possible, especially when around other nurses
  • Always work to maintain your core values and morals
  • Work on furthering your aptitude at communication and developing your people skills
Krystal | Sunny Sweet Days
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