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Nurse Practitioner Skills
What Makes a Good NP?

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Essential Qualities of a Nurse Practitioner Skills

Nurses are driven by their passion for helping others and making a difference in their community, but some are looking for ways to advance their career.

Have you thought about seeing patients in your own office, diagnosing and treating patients, or even providing a plan of care for patients whether six months or 96 years old. Becoming a nurse practitioner might be exactly what you are looking for to take your profession to the next level.

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has earned a master’s degree in nursing. Their roles and responsibilities include assisting in patient care, disease and illness prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. They can work in a variety of healthcare settings including doctors’ offices, hospitals, outpatient centers and schools. An NP may specialize in different areas such as pediatrics, mental health, geriatrics or family practice overall as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).

Nurse practitioner is a career projected for growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 52% increase in employment from 2019-2029, which is much faster than the national average. Additionally, the BLS reports the annual average salary for a nurse practitioner is $111,840 per year ($53.77 per hour).*

While the career has many opportunities, being an NP is not easy: the job description can be long and complex with higher than average requirements for education and experience.

Here are 5 essential skills every nurse practitioner needs to succeed:

1. Strong communication skills

Delivering a medical diagnosis or ordering a lab test is one thing—but a successful NP makes a patient feel understood while providing care, compassionate to their needs and those of their family members. is essential to provide avenues to navigate language barriers as well as explain complex medical information in a way patients understand. You will have to break down some complex medical terms into everyday language.

People think that communicating is about talking but it is also about being a good listener. Your patients will trust you more if they feel like they can communicate with you.

2. Great leadership skills

When making decisions as a provider, a nurse practitioner must interact with patients, family and other professional colleagues with care and compassion. 

Nurse practitioners need to have confidence in their abilities to make decisions especially in tough situations. You need to be able to take charge if the occasion arises. However, you must also be a team player and realize when you can delegate tasks to others. Sometimes being a leader also means being able to ask for an opinion or help. An NP must be professional and carry the best interests of their patient and fellow nurses.

Nurses have always been team leaders and as a nurse practitioner you will continue to lead a team of providers and delegate tasks to benefit patient outcomes.

3. Analytical skills

Every patient and situation is different. A successful NP realizes that they must adapt the way they care for patients and make changes or course corrections based upon the situation and the patients needs. As a critical thinker, you must be quick on your feet and quickly decide what needs to be done. Something might work 99 out of 100 times, but a successful NP is prepared for that one time when it does not work.

4. Exhibit patience under stress

As an NP in a provider position, you will be relied on to answer sometimes difficult questions. It is important to remain calm during stressful times so you are able to give clear directions to improve patient care.

While being sympathetic, it is important not to take things personally. An NP realizes that when someone is frustrated, most of the time they are frustrated with the situation rather than a person. You need to be ready to deal with stressful situations with calmness and precision.

5. Core competencies

The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) outlines many nurse practitioner core competencies divided into these groups:

  • Scientific foundations
  • Leadership
  • Quality
  • Practice Inquiry
  • Technology and Information Literacy
  • Policy
  • Health Delivery Systems
  • Ethics
  • Independent Practice

You can read the full list from the NONPF here.

Take the first step

Do you have what it takes to be a successful nurse practitioner? Herzing University’s NP options are built for you:

Earning an MSN degree can help you pursue your dream of becoming a provider and create the career path that leads to success!

As your lifelong partner in learning we are here to help you every step of the way.

Discover the Herzing University online FNP program


*Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. Herzing does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salary.

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