Every profession requires you to improve your skills continually, and nursing is no exception. In the US, nurse practitioners (NPs), also known as advanced practice registered nurses, are required to earn a master’s degree or higher to practice. Although they are not required to earn a doctorate, most NPs do so to advance their careers and boost their earning potential.
According to the American Nurses Association, there are several ways to improve your skills as an NP. However, the most effective way to do so is to focus on building your clinical knowledge and experience. To develop these skills, you can seek clinical rotations or preceptorships in different areas of nursing. For example, suppose you are primarily interested in working in a pediatric setting. In that case, you might seek rotations in a children’s hospital or preceptorships with pediatricians. Similarly, an adult-gerontology practitioner might gain experience working with older adults by completing rotations or preceptorships in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
This article will specifically focus on ways to hone your skills as an adult gerontology NP.
1)- Becoming Certified in a Specialty Area
Many NPs specialize in one or more areas, such as women’s health, pediatrics, or geriatrics. Certifications in these areas provide you with the additional knowledge and skills needed to treat patients in these specific practice areas. Certification requirements vary by specialty area but generally include completing a post-graduation program and passing an exam. In addition, some organizations offer specialized certifications that can demonstrate your expertise in a particular area.
Furthermore, for the adult gerontology nurse practitioner (AGNP) specialty, you must complete at least 39 credits and 510 clinical hours in the field. The online AGNP programs are a great way to learn more about the field and gain valuable experience in a flexible format.
2)- Joining Professional Associations
Professional associations provide opportunities to stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in your field and network with other NPs. They also often host conferences, seminars, workshops, and webinars to help you build your skills and knowledge. For example, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offers a variety of resources and events to support NPs, including an annual conference where you can learn about best practices in the profession.
3)- Engaging in Continuing Education
While most professional associations offer continuing education opportunities, you can also find courses, webinars, and other resources to help you stay on top of the latest developments in your field. For example, many NP programs offer continuing education credits that cover topics like pharmacology, pediatrics, and women’s health. Additionally, various online resources help you build your skills and knowledge.
4)- Connecting with Patients
As an AGNP, it is vital to connect with your patients and build a relationship of trust. This can help you provide the best care possible and identify any special needs or concerns your patients may have. For example, suppose you notice a patient’s medication isn’t working as expected. In that case, you can explore alternative treatments or refer them to another specialist.
The more you connect with your patients, the better care you can provide them. Furthermore, building rapport with patients is an important skill that will help you in your career as an AGNP.
5)- Seeking out Mentorship
One of the best ways to hone your skills is to seek a mentor who can provide guidance, support, and advice. Many experienced NPs are willing to share their knowledge and help you grow as a nurse practitioner. If you want to advance in your career, finding a mentor who can help you prepare for the next step is important. A mentor can be invaluable if you seek guidance on a particular issue or want to learn more about the field.
Another reason why seeking a mentor is important is that you can gain support and encouragement as you embark on your career.
6)- Learning from your Experiences
Another great way to hone your skills as an AGNP is to learn from the experiences you encounter in your day-to-day work. Whether you encounter challenging patients, intricacies in treatments, or any other obstacles, reflecting on these experiences can help you develop new skills and strategies for addressing issues in the future. Reflecting on your experiences is a great way to continue improving as an AGNP. However, to make the most of your experiences, it is important to be open-minded and willing to learn from them.
As you continue to work as an AGNP, you will gain valuable insight that can help shape your practice and help you provide the best care possible.
7)- Joining a Peer Group
Having a support network of like-minded professionals can be a great way to stay motivated and inspired in your work while gaining valuable insights and feedback on your practice. Whether you join a local group or an online forum, being part of a peer group can be a great way to build your skills and knowledge as an AGNP. Also, don’t forget to connect with other professionals on social media, such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
This can be a great way to share ideas, learn new strategies, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in your field.
8)- Collaborating with other Health care Professionals
As an AGNP, it is important to collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals to provide the best care possible. This can help ensure that patients get the specialized care they need and allows you to focus your time and attention on patients who need your support. For example, suppose you are working with a patient who may need additional support, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy. In that case, referring them to the appropriate healthcare professional is important.
By collaborating closely with other healthcare professionals, you can provide the best possible care for your patients.
9)- Advocating for your Patients
Whether it is pushing for a patient to receive the right medication or navigating financial assistance, advocating for your patients can be an important skill that will help you build rapport with them while providing the best care possible. The more you can advocate for your patients, the more likely they will get the support and treatment they need.
Interestingly, research has shown that nurses who are more engaged in their work tend to have better patient outcomes, so advocating for your patients can be an important skill to develop.
Now that you know some key ways to hone your skills as an AGNP, you can focus on developing these skills and improving your work. Whether seeking a mentor, reflecting on your experiences, joining a peer group, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, or advocating for your patients, there are many ways to continue honing your skills as an AGNP. With time and effort, you can become a skilled healthcare professional that provides the best care possible for your patients.