Becoming a family nurse practitioner is often viewed as a calling by many people. And, as a family nurse practitioner, you will play a vital and unique role in the lives of the people you will be working with. In many ways, you will become a part of their extended family and know more about them than they do themselves. You’ll also have to be able to deliver tough love and even tough news, depending on the day. This is why it takes a special kind of individual to fill this role. In this article, we’re going to go through some of the main traits and qualities every good family nurse practitioner should have. And we’ll also take a look at some of the responsibilities of the job in detail.
What do Family Nurse Practitioners Do Exactly?
Before we start talking about the exact characteristics FNPs should have, let’s take a more in-depth look at their roles. Family nurse practitioners are responsible for giving lifelong and comprehensive care to people of all age groups through disease management, preventative health services, and health education. A large portion of their job revolves around preventing and educating their patients.
In addition to this, family nurse practitioners are qualified to manage a wide variety of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, give health and wellness care to children and infants, and provide health and wellness care to pregnant women, including prenatal and preconception care. They may also be called to deal with minor acute injuries as well as giving episodic assistance to patients dealing with critical illnesses. In most cases, FNPs will work with other specialists to help manage the condition of their patients and on case management for injuries and long term illnesses. Typical duties for an FNP include interpreting and ordering diagnostic tests, providing counseling, conducting examinations, and drawing prescriptions in some cases. FNPs can also decide to specialize in fields like women’s health, neurology, and cardiology.
Where do FNPs Work?
FNPs need to have extensive patient experience and will be called to work in a variety of settings. They might work in major hospitals, private clinics, community clinics, schools, health departments at the state or local level, and various ambulatory care facilities. Another characteristic of FNPs is that they may have many more responsibilities than your average nurse. In places where there are shortages of physicians, such as remote rural areas, they might work as sole healthcare providers. The reason why FNPs can work as primary care providers is because of their post-bachelor education in health assessment and diagnosis, physiology, and pharmacology. FNPs play a significant role in these communities, where they often have minimal access to healthcare services. Now that we know more about what FNPs do, let’s take a look at some of the traits and characteristics needed to be a successful one.
1 Proper Education
The first and most important thing you need to operate as a family nurse practitioner is the right education. To become one, you have to be a certified already and licensed registered nurse. You will at least need to complete a master’s degree to become a family nurse practitioner, though many decide to get a doctorate to access a broader range of positions. For nurses who are already working, there are online FNP programs that allow you to fast track from a BSN to a DNP or go the traditional MSN to the DNP route.
Depending on where you want to work, there are also various specializations that you can choose from. For instance, a cardiology specialization would give you the foundation needed to work with patients dealing with all sorts of disorders, such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, or arrhythmia. You could also specialize in emergency medicine if you’d like to work in an ER environment. This specialization will teach you to deal with life-threatening health issues that require immediate care. Neonatology is also a viral concentration and one with significant demand. Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics, and FNPs with this specialization will be formed to provide health care to newborns, including those who may have been born prematurely. Oncology is another field with high demand, and FNPs with an oncology specialization will be qualified to work with cancer patients. Women’s health is another field that you could consider. With a specialty in women’s health, you’ll be able to assist women with their reproductive health, provide postpartum and prenatal care as well as giving gynecological care.
Being compassionate will be an essential trait for any family nurse practitioner. You’ll need to be able to connect and empathize with your patients, with whom you’ll have a much closer relationship than in many other specialties. You will often follow the same people throughout their lives and will have to be aware of their apprehension towards certain treatments and able to comfort them. You’ll have to be able to show empathy for your patient’s pain and actively listen to their concerns. You cannot treat them like just any patient and will have to work on finding solutions to their issues that will work for them. Being able to show compassion and to care truly will not only help your patients get through tough situations, but it will also help you build a trusting relationship with them.
3 Good Communicator
You will also need to be a great communicator if you want to make it as an FNP. You will often have to be the bearer of bad news, and you’ll have to be able to relay information through various family members in a way that is digestible for them. You cannot be overly technical with parents or a child that just had a difficult diagnosis. You’ll have to be able to vulgarize complex concepts and treatments and make sure that they’re understood. A poor communicator will also have difficulty building a bond with their patients, who may then become reluctant to disclose important information to you. As a family nurse practitioner, you’ll be called to work with people from all walks of life, cultures, age groups, and levels of education about their health. This is why you’ll not only have to be a good communicator but an adaptable one. You’ll have to be able to speak on the level of anyone. You’re talking to and learn how to comfort them while being clear about the situation and what needs to be done.
FNPs will have to fill significant roles and functions. For instance, they might be responsible for performing everything from diagnostics, examinations, reviewing a patient’s history, treatment, and educating patients. This is why FNPs need to be organized and detail-oriented. Without a good sense of organization, you will eventually become overwhelmed and might commit some serious mistakes or omissions. You’ll also have to be able to prioritize tasks and delegate when needed and possible. FNPs that will be working in primary care positions will need these skills even more, as they’ll often be called to be the captain of the whole ship. You’ll have to be able to deal with work overload and unexpected emergencies. That’s why you’ll not only have to be organized but be able to adapt yourself to different situations and be a great problem solver. Besides, the nursing profession is one that leaves a minimal margin for error. Just one minor mistake could spell disaster. This is why it will be important that you not only do not commit mistakes but spot mistakes from others before they become catastrophic. A good family nurse will also be able to see signs of deterioration in a patient and recognize new symptoms so that they can address them quickly.
5 Stress Resistance
While many RNs decide to go into family care for a change of pace, that doesn’t mean that they won’t have to deal with a certain amount of stress. You will need to be able to work under pressure but also be able to work with difficult patients or family members as well. This is why you’ll need always to be able to de-escalate situations when needed. And, if you decide to move into emergency care, then you will have to deal with everything that comes with it. Nurses at all levels need to be emotionally stable, and this goes for FNPs as well, as they often have to deal with traumatic events. Also, the fact that they have such personal relationships with the people they serve makes it even harder when dealing with loss. Some days will be more difficult than others and where it will be hard not to take these worries home. But FNPs must, for the sake of their patients, be able to hop right back on the horse after a tough day. Only FNPs who can make the distinction between work and life and create a sense of distance and acceptance for death and suffering will be able to make it. However, this doesn’t mean that the job of an FNP is all gloom and doom. You’ll also have the joy of helping bring life into this world and seeing patients recover through your help and care. Good FNPs can both cope with the stress and also draw from the positive experiences.
6 Good Team Player
A family nurse practitioner will have to be able to work as part of a team. They will need to be able to relay crucial information with the people they work with and the physicians they’re under. Besides, they must be willing to step in if one of the team players cannot deal with a certain situation, and they feel they can. A good FNP will be able to pick up the slack when needed and always put the wellbeing of their patients first.
7 Physical Endurance
Physical endurance is another aspect that you’ll have to consider before you embark on this journey. Depending on the setting, you might have to walk kilometers on each shift. You may also have to stay up for long stretches or have to lift a patient. These are all things that will require that you are somewhat conditioned. You’ll have to be able to keep your energy up throughout your shift, and you might have to make some healthy and lifestyle adjustments of your own if you want to be able to get through the day.
Confidence is another trait a lot of people overlook. Still, FNPs have an extraordinary role, and if you lack confidence in yourself, you might lack the confidence to make some critical decisions. Especially when someone else’s life is on the line. You’ll have to deal with murky diagnostics in some cases and have to make executive decisions, sometimes with no one else to refer to. You’ll have to be able to analyze important information and data, think critically, and apply your expertise. Being confident is not only important so that you can perform your functions but for your patients as well. Few things can be more distressing for a patient than seeing their caregiver being hesitant, especially if we’re talking about a life-threatening condition. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t ask for second opinions from time to time. But you will need to have the ability to work on your own and be decisive while being able to put your patients at ease.
Family nurse practitioners play a vital and often neglected role in our communities. Only a few have what it truly takes to be good at this job and able to survive in this position. However, if you feel like you have some of the qualities needed, this could be an excellent opportunity to make a real impact on your patients and help them live long and healthy lives.