Healthcare is one of the most important sectors in society and crucial to looking after the nation’s health. It is also a very popular sector to work in and one that includes many important roles. Registered nurses, for example, are central to the effective care that patients receive in healthcare settings.
Many registered nurses will decide to take the next step in their career and qualify as nurse practitioners. But what does this role involve, how do you move into it as a registered nurse, and what should new nurse practitioners expect?
What is a nurse practitioner, and how do you qualify as one?
In simple terms, nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who deliver acute, specialty and primary care to patients. This is usually done through promoting healthier ways to live, prevention of disease, counseling and setting healthcare policies.
As a senior role in nursing, you need the right qualifications for this job. This is normally a master’s degree in nursing, which focuses on one healthcare area. Transitioning into a nurse practitioner role, therefore, means completing a course such as the Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner at Walsh University. This flexible online course not only prepares you to make the step up to a more advanced nursing role but also comes from one of the top universities in the country.
Of course, gaining the right award to work at this level is not all you should think about beforehand. You should also consider just what any new nurse practitioner might face.
Awesome career prospects
One thing that any newly qualified nurse practitioner should certainly expect is a positive career outlook. In short, this is a role that is in high demand and has lots of opportunities. The bright outlook for newly qualified nurse practitioners can be seen when you think that the role has an estimated growth rate of over 50% in the next 10 years!
This is mainly down to the aging population that we are now experiencing and the expected shortage of qualified primary/specialty caregivers in the coming years. This is great news for new nurse practitioners, as it means that you not only get to help make a difference in healthcare but also work in a role that has lots of choices in terms of the job you take.
Greater levels of independence when working
One thing that any new nurse practitioner should expect is more independence and autonomy when working. This can be quite a change for most, as they are used to having a lot less independence when working as a registered nurse. If you have been a registered nurse for a while before making the step up, you could feel this even more keenly.
But why is this the case? It all comes down to the seniority that nurse practitioner roles carry and the greater knowledge that qualified nurse practitioners possess. All this enables them to work independently in various healthcare settings and have the skills to do so effectively. It also means that their role is at a sufficient level that more autonomy when working is acceptable. If you work in a state with full practice authority, you can even run a clinical practice without any supervision.
Wide range of tasks and better working hours
Everyone who works as a registered nurse knows that it is a role that can include lots of different tasks each day. It is true to say though that moving to become a nurse practitioner can see an even broader range of clinical duties come your way. This can be anything from the management of treatments to diagnosing patients and medicine prescriptions. It is therefore essential to expect a varied role with some exciting new things to take care of.
Although it is not guaranteed, some nurse practitioner roles can also come with better working hours. This is because some jobs like this are not set in acute care environments and so do not include shift work around the clock. Instead, you could well find yourself working somewhere with more traditional hours. This can be another reason why direct primary care is a viable career choice and helps attract people to it.
Testing times to begin with
Moving into a nurse practitioner role will not come without its challenges. This is usually felt by new nurse practitioners in the first few months, when the leap to a more senior role in nursing can feel more pronounced. In this initial period, it is common for new nurse practitioners to feel a little stressed or find their confidence at a low ebb.
The key thing to remember is that this is entirely normal and will soon pass. Making the step up to nurse practitioner is a huge undertaking and is certain to push you out of your comfort zone. This is not only in terms of working with more autonomy but also showing leadership skills. If you fall back on the knowledge you picked up when studying and trust your own abilities, you will soon settle into the role fully.
Change to inter-professional relationships
This can prove a tricky one for many new nurse practitioners but can easily be overcome with clever people skills. The issue can often arise when newly qualified nurse practitioners take up a role in the same setting they worked in as registered nurses.
To help get past this, talk to colleagues about your new role and your new responsibilities. It can also be worth explaining that your new job will involve you having to ask them to do things for you and maybe even manage them. If you do this and carry out your new duties in a compassionate, competent manner, then you should have no ongoing problems.
New nurse practitioners – what should you expect?
As the above shows, there are some key things that any new nurse practitioner should expect to happen. It really does pay to bear these in mind, as this will mean that you know what to look out for and what to prepare for when moving into this role. It certainly becomes crucial for any current registered nurse who is about to make the next step in their career.