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10 Sure-Fire Signs You're Ready to Become a Nurse Practitioner


Written By: Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC

Are you wondering how to know if you are ready to become a nurse practitioner? Maybe you have known since you were a kid that you wanted to work in health care, or perhaps this is going to be your second or third career. Regardless of what has brought you to this moment, there are some signs that you are ready to become a nurse practitioner. Some of these are characteristics that you could have had your entire life, while others are things you have worked hard to develop. Here we discuss 10 sure-fire signs to know if you are ready to become a nurse practitioner so that you can see if you are ready to dive into your nurse practitioner training and career.


HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE READY TO BECOME A NURSE PRACTITIONER?

(Find out about the 10 Sure-Fire Signs to know if you are ready to become a Nurse Practitioner.)

1. You’re not afraid of a challenge

Whether you are an experienced nurse, or this is your big debut into the nursing field, becoming a nurse practitioner is likely to present new challenges. You know you are ready to become a nurse practitioner if you are not only prepared but also excited by the idea of challenging yourself in new ways. It’s normal to be a bit anxious when you start nurse practitioner school and venture into your first role as a nurse practitioner, since you will be caring for the lives of others. Anxiety coupled with excitement for the challenges set before you are sure signs that you are on the right career path. Being a nurse practitioner will challenge your critical thinking skills, clinical skills, interpersonal skills, and more. It is a dynamic profession that will force you to grow in infinite ways.

2. You like working with people

As a nurse practitioner, you will not only work with a team of health professionals, but you will also spend your days working directly with patients. We all get tired of working with other people sometimes, that is just a normal part of being human. However, if overall you find that you thrive in roles where you work with people, you are likely ready to be a nurse practitioner. Working relationships can be tough, and so can building trust with new patients. If these challenges sound appealing to you, then you are on the right track.

3. You want to give back

Most people enter the nursing field at least in part because they care about others and want to give back. There are numerous ways to give back to society but if health care is particularly appealing, then being a nurse practitioner is the right move. If helping patients and their families tackle difficult health issues and life transitions is the type of career that you want, then you are ready to become a nurse practitioner. While all types of health professionals give back to society, nurse practitioners have a unique role. As a nurse practitioner you will solve clinical problems, but also build trusting relationships with patients and their families and be pivotal in helping them lead healthier lives. Nurse practitioners often focus on a more holistic approach to care and take in the whole person rather than just looking at them as something to treat.

4. You’re flexible

Health care, people, and the work environment are forever changing. If you are a flexible person and open to change as well, then you are ready to become a nurse practitioner. With COVID-19 many nurse practitioners had to shift to doing some amount of telehealth. This was a huge change for nurse practitioners who had been working at the bedside their whole careers. Being adaptable and open makes these kinds of transitions easier. Additionally, caring for patients requires building collaborative relationships. This means that while you may have an idea about what is best for your patient, they may be thinking they need something else. Being flexible can allow you to meet your patients in the middle and thus provide better care since patients who agree with the treatment plan are more likely to adhere to it and follow up.

5. You like variety

If the thought of sitting at a desk and doing the same thing every day does not appeal to you, then you will likely be happy as a nurse practitioner. As a nurse practitioner, you will spend time working with patients with varying personalities to address their health concerns. You will also talk with them on the phone, write clinical notes, assist colleagues with procedures, and if you desire you can participate in research and teach and train the next cohort of nurse practitioners. This can keep your job interesting and help you grow professionally. As a nurse practitioner, every day will be different and hold new challenges.

6. You’re a problem solver

Being a problem solver is one of the most necessary skills for a nurse practitioner to have. Not only will you encounter new clinical challenges and mysteries, but you will also play a role in helping patients solve problems with their relationships, overcome barriers to accessing different types of care, and be creative when resources are lacking. Critical thinking and being resourceful is key to being a problem solver. If the idea of uncovering medical mysteries and helping patients overcome barriers to care excites you, these are signs that you should be a nurse practitioner.

7. You love science

You can’t be a nurse practitioner and not love science. Everything you do will be based on clinical and/or social science and appreciating these fields are essential for you to continue to provide evidence-based patient care. Maybe you fell in love when you peered through your first microscope, or perhaps you created an intricate rock collection after your third-grade geology lecture. Regardless of what caught your attention, it is likely that as a budding nurse practitioner, science has been on your radar for a while. Your job as a nurse practitioner will require you to stay on top of the latest research, so having a lifelong love and respect for science is a good sign that you are ready to dive into your nursing career.

8. You Excel in building connections with people

Strong interpersonal relationships are the backbone of being a successful nurse practitioner. Building patient-provider relationships that are founded on mutual trust is essential to providing effective patient-centered care. As you work with a dynamic team of health professionals and administrative staff, your ability to develop relationships with them will reflect your work culture and patient care. If you excel in building connections with people, you’ve already got a huge chunk of what it takes to be a nurse practitioner down.

9. You like physical work

Being a nurse practitioner is physical work. While there may be some amount of sitting at your desk or options for you to work in less physical settings, odds are your first job will require you to be on your feet and be able to lift a certain amount. It can be tiring work running around seeing and lifting patients all day. If you do not shy away from a physical challenge, then being a nurse practitioner will be a good fit.

10. You are not easily grossed out

Biopsies, boils, and vomiting, oh my! I hope this isn’t new information for you but being a nurse practitioner is far from glamorous work. You need to have a strong stomach to meet patients where they are and deliver compassionate care with a straight face when you are looking at or smelling something that might gross you out. If you know you are not squeamish in the face of bodily functions, then you are ready to be a nurse practitioner.


Summing It Up


The path to becoming a nurse practitioner and the career itself will challenge you in ways no other job can. From building strong relationships with patients and coworkers to being flexible and doing physical work, your job as a nurse practitioner is bound to contribute to your personal and professional growth. So how do you know if you’re ready to become a nurse practitioner? It may be as simple as having shadowed a nurse practitioner and having loved every second of what they did, or it can be a combination of loving a challenge, being a science nerd, and wanting to give back to others. Regardless of what has called you to this profession, these 10 sure-fire signs to know if you are ready to become a nurse practitioner will be relevant throughout your entire career.


Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
Lauren Jacobson is a registered nurse and women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about global health and gender-based violence prevention. She is Editor and an Advisory Board Member for the Global Nursing Caucus and volunteers with Physicians for Human Rights as a medical evaluator for asylum seekers.