10 Skills of a Nurse Practitioner

The need for nurse practitioners is expected to grow dramatically. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners will increase by 45% by 2029.

Even with this predicted rise in potential positions, there are still several specific skills that nurse practitioners must possess to be successful in their careers. Individuals who are thinking about pursuing an online MSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice degree can benefit from learning about the skills of a nurse practitioner that can position them at the forefront of health care.

What Are the Critical Skills of a Nurse Practitioner?

While the backbone of the nurse practitioner profession is providing advanced and compassionate patient care , there are 10 vital skills associated with the profession that help nurse practitioners become successful. These skills enable nurse practitioners to navigate through the administrative and functional needs of an increasingly complex modern health care system. They can also equip nurse practitioners with the tools needed to make scientific and clinical advances in nursing and health care.

Two nurse practitioners working on tablets.


1. Executive Leadership

The first of these skills is executive leadership. Nurse practitioners are groomed to be leaders in advanced nursing practice. They’re often charged with synthesizing their nursing expertise into sustainable, innovative care programs that have a positive effect on patient health.

2. Clinical Instruction

Another vital skill for nurse practitioners is the ability to provide clinical instruction. Because of the nature of the profession, nurse practitioners often assume the role of teacher, sharing their research and findings with others in an informative and engaging manner. This skill also helps nurse practitioners understand and deal with the challenges that can arise in a classroom setting, such as time management.

3. Problem-Solving

Complex problem-solving is another vital skill for a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners often are on the front lines of the rapidly changing world of medicine and nursing. When a potential problem emerges in a health care setting , it’s imperative for nurse practitioners to efficiently recognize and neutralize the issue before it affects health care outcomes .

4. Improve Patient Outcomes

Nurse practitioners can improve patient outcomes. Each component of a sustainable program should be set in place with the goal of a better patient experience, from implementing new research to overseeing administrative needs. Nurse practitioners are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure that this never becomes an afterthought.

5. Improve Nursing Practice

Any list of nurse practitioner skills would be incomplete without a mention of a nurse practitioner’s ability to improve nursing practice. Because the nursing field is constantly evolving , nurse practitioners are charged with staying abreast of these changes. At the same time, they must possess the acumen required to integrate new initiatives in an economically feasible way that doesn’t compromise the goal of improving patient outcomes.

6. Communication

Nurse practitioners develop advanced communication skills that enable them to engage with different audiences using a variety of techniques. They know how to have difficult conversations and convey sensitive information. Nurse practitioners also know how to navigate communication channels that span different settings and communities. They’re particularly skilled in the communication skills that can enhance team-based interactions.

7. Collaboration

Their collaboration skills position nurse practitioners to lead teams of health care professionals in develop ing comprehensive care plans. Nurse practitioners know how to collaborate to obtain the resources necessary for patient interventions. Their collaboration skills also enable them to contribute to preparedness and mitigation in the field of population health and to develop effective health care policies.

8. Quality and Safety

Nurse practitioners are skilled in creating and using benchmarks to measure health care quality and safety. They also know how to use quality and safety information to develop health care policies. Having quality and safety skills enables nurse practitioners to analyze errors and near misses to identify and mitigate situations that could affect patient safety. Nurse practitioners also have the knowledge necessary to evaluate emergency preparedness plans to help promote patient safety.

9. Technology

Nurse practitioners’ skills in technology enable them to use technology to support patient care. They can help select new technology that is best for a health care organization, and they can determine the effects of new technology on workflows. Their knowledge of technology also enables nurse practitioners to glean critical information from health databases.

10. Patient Advocacy

Nurse practitioners have a wealth of experience and knowledge that makes them exceptional patient advocates. For example, they can promote policies to strengthen health equity. Nurse practitioners can also advocate for accessible and cost-effective interventions. In addition, nurse practitioners have valuable skills that enable them to advocate on behalf of diverse populations.

Why Are These Nursing Skills Necessary for DNP-Educated Nurses?

The skills of a nurse practitioner are essential for individuals who earn a DNP degree. While patient care establishes the foundation of the DNP position, this concept extends into the realms of research, administration, and academia — areas through which nurses strive to improve the care provided on a nurse-to-patient level.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the role of an NP is to work with health care professionals and others to provide a full spectrum of health care services. A DNP builds on that role by researching and implementing new and complex care concepts into the services.

Nurse Practitioner Skills Gained From a DNP Degree

Nurses can obtain nurse practitioner skills by enrolling in a graduate program with a rigorous curriculum. Health care is a rapidly changing field, so those who demonstrate a firm grasp on how to recognize and work with the changes will have a substantial advantage.

It’s important for nurses who seek career advancement to consider the advantages of nurse practitioner preparation in their career paths. For example, while the field of advanced practice nurses is growing, the DNP field will likely continue to be more competitive than other advanced practice nursing fields, partially due to the health care industry’s still-evolving understanding of a DNP’s role. As this understanding grows, DNP-educated nurses equipped with this skill set may be in a prime position to grow their careers.

Common Nurse Practitioner Qualities

Successful nurse practitioners share a host of qualities that help them excel in their profession. For example, nurse practitioners are:

  • Accountable for their actions
  • Comfortable serving as role models
  • Compassionate
  • Empathic
  • Ethical in their practice and leadership
  • Flexible in the face of change
  • Lifelong learners
  • Mentors to others in the profession
  • Respectful of others
  • Self-aware

Building the Skills to Serve as a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners draw on their advanced knowledge and administrative and research skills to find ways to advance health care and improve patient outcomes. If you’re interested in developing the skills of a nurse practitioner, explore Regis College’s MSN to DNP online program, which equips nurses with a wealth of skills to excel in the nursing profession. A fulfilling career as a leader in nursing could be in your future. Take the first step in that direction today.


Recommended Readings:

How a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Can Lead to Better Patient Outcomes

How Family Nurse Practitioners with a DNP Degree Empower Patients and Families

MSN to DNP – Sometimes It’s About the Journey


American Association of Colleges of Nurses, The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, The Path to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP)

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners