That first year in a Nurse Practitioner job is generally rife with challenges. A future Nurse Practitioner (NP) learns a lot during the many years of training, but no amount of book learning can truly prepare a new NP for everything nurse practitioner jobs entail. Only experience will do the trick. Experience gained during the first year can prove invaluable throughout an NP’s career.
With that in mind, new NPs have a lot on their plates. Yet there are five things they can work on during that first year, things that will improve their skills, increase their knowledge, and make them better providers.
1. Communication Skills
Communication is important to every career. But for the Nurse Practioner, it is more critical because you are dealing with human lives. The problem is that clinicians don’t go to school to learn how to communicate. They go to learn about biology, physiology, anatomy, etc. Oftentimes, they only learn about effective communication on the job.
Working on improving one’s communication skills during that first year is smart. The more effectively an NP communicates with patients and colleagues, the more effective they will be as a clinician.
2. Critical Thinking
One of the keys to providing quality healthcare is being able to think critically. Clinicians of all types, including NPs, need to be able to look beyond mere symptoms to figure things out. Symptoms are just the starting point. Sometimes, getting a handle on what is happening with a patient requires stepping back and thinking through every piece of available information. With that in mind, working on improving critical thinking skills makes an NP that much more capable of offering high quality care.
3. Improving Self Confidence
The title ‘nurse practitioner’ leaves a lot to be desired. To people who do not know anything about the specialty, an Nurse Practicioner may be nothing more than a nurse with a fancy title. It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but it can leave new NPs questioning their own skills and abilities.
That first year, the new NP will make mistakes. There will be gaps in their knowledge. But this is no reason for an NP to question themself. Rather, that first year is the perfect time to work on improving their self-confidence. It is a time to increase knowledge, gain experience, and come to a fuller understanding of the nurse practitioner job.
4. Improving Core Competencies
Education and training set up the NP for future success. But again, book learning is not the be-all and and-all. It’s simply a stepping stone to begin applying for nurse practitioner jobs. To be a successful NP, a clinician needs to constantly work to improve core competencies. This is especially vital during that first year, when an NP is likely to be questioned more often than trusted. NPs usually cannot do enough to improve core competencies during that first year.
5. Practicing Patience
Finally, the first year represents a wonderful opportunity for the new NP to practice patience. Patience is one of those qualities that seems to be in short supply today. We live in an on-demand world in which people expect quick solutions to even the biggest problems. NPs cannot allow themselves to fall into that trap. More often than not, providing quality care requires a patient and purposeful approach. NPs need patience just as much as the patients they take care of.
A successful first year sets an Nurse Practioner up for a long and rewarding career. If you are just getting started, take advantage of that first year to learn and grow.