By definition, nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced healthcare professionals who possess top-notch assessment skills and can diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions.
They’re known for their holistic approach to healthcare; while other healthcare professionals sometimes focus almost exclusively on a patient’s diagnosis, nurse practitioners routinely take into account patients’ family, social, spiritual, psychological and physical needs. But nurse practitioners are not all the same. If you want to hire a truly great nurse practitioner, look for one (or more) of these characteristics:
- Specialty skill set. All nurse practitioners are specialized, to some degree. Family NPs, for instance, are qualified to provide primary care to all ages while Geriatric NPs specialize in the care of older adults and Neonatal nurse NPs focus on the care of ill newborns. There are additional courses of study that NPs can choose that will enable them to provide highly competent specialty care. The American Nurse Credentialing Center offers an emergency nurse practitioner certification; NPs with this certification are uniquely equipped to function in emergency care settings. Some NPs have completed a minor in diabetes. Others have focused their education and practice on the care of people with HIV/AIDs, oncology, orthopedics or cardiology. NPs with a hospitalist focus provide care to hospitalized patients, while NPs who have an intensivist focus specialize in the care of critically ill patients. The level of care provided by NPs who have obtained specialty training goes above and beyond what most general NPs can provide.
- Commitment to professional development. Healthcare is a constantly changing field. And while all nurse practitioners are required to provide evidence of continuing education to maintain their certification, the best nurse practitioners seek out professional development opportunities because want to stay abreast of the latest advances in the field, not because they need to check off a box on their re-certification application. So ask NPs about their involvement in professional organizations (such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners) and attendance at professional conferences. NPs who are involved in professional organizations and/or regularly attend conferences are generally at the forefront of practice, as these organizations and events frequently disseminate the latest research findings, professional updates and legislative developments.
- FAANP status. FAANP stands for Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. NPs who have earned this designation have demonstrated exceptional contributions in research, clinical practice, education or policy. Fewer than 500 of the United States’ 205,000 NPs have earned the right to use the initials “FAANP,” so any NP who has earned that designation is sure to be one of the best in the nation.
The best NPs are those who have invested time and resources in developing their skills. A nurse practitioner who has a specialty set, has demonstrated professional involvement and/or has earned FAANP status will be an asset to any healthcare organization.