As healthcare continues to advance, and the demand for preventive care grows, the skills of a family nurse practitioner (FNP) are more valuable than ever. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that the employment of nurse practitioners will grow an incredible 52 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is because nurse practitioners, and specifically FNPs, can perform many of the same duties of physicians, enabling more professionals to meet the growing need for healthcare services.
Family nurse practitioners specialize in family medicine, assessing and treating a wide range of patients, from infants to geriatrics. FNPs can work in internal medicine clinics, private practices, hospitals, emergency rooms, and other ambulatory care settings. NurseJournal states that 14.5% of family nurse practitioners work in hospital outpatient departments, and 13.3% work in inpatient care. In Connecticut, family nurse practitioners can even have an independent practice.
If you are considering pursuing a career as a family nurse practitioner, it is imperative to gain the skills required for the job. A career-focused APRN-FNP degree program can prepare you with the skills to succeed. What are the essential family nurse practitioner skills, exactly? FNPs must develop and fine-tune the skill sets listed below.
Soft Skills for Family Nurse Practitioners
Many family nurse practitioners take on leadership roles in the healthcare field. As leaders, family nurse practitioners must be skilled in crisis and stress management. Teamwork is also crucial because you will need to be able to collaborate with the entire medical team. Family nurse practitioners must know when to delegate tasks to others and be willing to pitch in to accomplish the overall goal of patient care. An effective leader can use strategic thinking to manage conflict and create change in the workplace.
- Effective Communication
You cannot have good leadership without proper communication. Effective communication is a necessary skill in any nursing profession to ensure the successful care of patients and promote cohesion among colleagues. Family nurse practitioners must be able to address medical staff professionally. They also must be able to communicate well with patients. It is crucial to be able to convey information clearly and compassionately. Excellent written communication skills are also needed to ensure patient records are accurate.
Working in healthcare often means working in an exciting and fast-paced environment. The hours vary, with night shifts and three-day work weeks available to some nurse practitioners. The healthcare field is also constantly changing. Family nurse practitioners must adapt to the changes that occur throughout the day, as well as the overarching changes occurring in the healthcare field. It is imperative that you also are willing to work with diverse populations amongst both patients and other medical staff.
- Organization and Time Management
Your ability to manage your schedule and prioritize your tasks throughout the day will help you succeed in this career. Family nurse practitioners often have a heavy workload and need to manage time to reduce stress. A balance must exist between spending time with patients and working on paperwork, staff management, and research. Paperwork and charting are a big part of this job. Organizational skills are crucial with paperwork to prevent mistakes from occurring.
Possessing empathy and working in the healthcare field go hand-in-hand. The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes allows you to provide the best possible care. Compassion helps you better meet the needs of both patients and team members. The patients must understand that you care for their well-being beyond just clinical needs. Patients will recognize when empathy is your driving force and will trust in your care.
- Active Listening
Listening to others helps family nurse practitioners recognize the needs of both their staff and patients. Active listening means taking the time to ensure others feel heard. Acknowledging their needs and allowing them to share their thoughts is crucial in healthcare. You can only accomplish patient-centered care through listening to their needs and viewpoints.
Technical Skills for Aspiring FNPs
A scientific foundation for practice is one of the core competencies for nurse practitioners. Family nurse practitioners must critically analyze scientific data to figure out ways to improve patient care. Science and humanity courses help provide FNPs with skills to apply to their specific healthcare context. Nurse practitioners also play a vital role in research. Family nurse practitioners must go a step beyond and evaluate research findings and find a way to apply them to their healthcare setting. They gather both qualitative and quantitative research to create or change different theories and concepts. But this isn’t all. As primary care providers, family nurse practitioners must be able to analyze real patient conditions and circumstances, on their feet, and provide the best possible plan for care.
One of the most crucial skills a family nurse practitioner must possess is the ability to diagnose patients. This is core to what family nurse practitioners do! FNPs must assess their patients’ symptoms and determine whether an acute or chronic illness exists. This requires skills to be able to interpret, as well as perform, diagnostic tests. Gathering patient history information, doing a physical examination, and testing procedures are, therefore, also a part of the diagnostic process. Through critical thinking, FNPs must be able to analyze and interpret the collected data. Correctly diagnosing the patient will ensure that they can develop a thorough and effective treatment plan.
- Treatment Planning
Beyond diagnosing a patient, family nurse practitioners need to have the skill to develop and coordinate treatment plans. In some cases, the family nurse practitioner may recommend consultations or referrals to specialized care providers. A patient’s treatment plan may also include both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions. Family nurse practitioners can perform medical procedures and prescribe medicine in all 50 states. They decide what interventions should be put in place to ensure successful treatment. Through follow-up care, FNPs can and often will modify interventions to ensure patients are making progress towards recovery.
Family nurse practitioners have advanced degrees beyond that of most registered nurses. With that advanced education comes the skill to educate others. FNPs can be found educating families and patients, helping them to understand any reason and need for care. Additionally, FNPs may educate patients on how to sustain a healthy lifestyle to prevent both physical and mental illnesses. Family nurse practitioners must possess the skill to empower patients with knowledge of how to make healthy choices, manage conditions, and carry out good healthcare at home.
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is also known as CPR. All family nurse practitioners must possess this life-saving skill. When the heart stops beating and goes into cardiac arrest, CPR can be administered. Being competent in this skill can prepare you to step in during a life and death situation. This training is necessary before employment in most healthcare settings.
Developing the Necessary FNP Skills
So how does one obtain or refine these skills? A reputable nursing school, such as Goodwin University, will allow you to grow in these skills to best prepare you for this field. A bachelor’s and specialized master’s degree in nursing are needed to become a family nurse practitioner.
Goodwin University offers flexible and affordable online classes to teach aspiring FNPs the soft and the technical skills needed in this field. With the optimistic job outlook and growing employment opportunities of family nurse practitioners, it is clear that these skills are in demand. Fine-tuning these valuable family nurse practitioner skills will help you to succeed and effectively help others at all walks of life.
If you are ready to begin your journey to become a family nurse practitioner, reach out to Goodwin University today! For more information call 1-800-889-3282 or visit us online.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.