7 Essential Skills and Traits All Family Nurse Practitioners Should Have

own clinics

If you want to make a real impact on your patients’ lives and work in a more tranquil environment, becoming a family nurse can be a great option. It’s not an easy job, however, and it demands a certain level of skill. You also need to have the right disposition. Working closely with patients one-on-one is very different than attending different beds as part of a team, so you will need to adapt. Here are some of the essential skills, traits, and attributes all family nurse practitioners should have.

The Right Formation

Everything starts with having the right credentials. If you want to become a family nurse practitioner, you will need to get a master’s with a family nurse practitioner specialization. Here, you can either decide to go through a traditional academy or get your credentials online. Some programs will also allow you to get your credentials faster, so this is definitely an option you should consider.

Great Communicators

You will not only have to ask questions about symptoms or monitor their current condition; you will also need to know what’s going on in their lives and have real conversations about their life habits. You have to be able to convince people to follow your advice by using the proper tone and also change your communication method depending on who you’re working with.

The family nurse practitioner role also has a heavy educational component to it. You might have to educate entire families about complex health issues. If you feel like you’re struggling in this area, you might have to either work on it or consider another job.

Critical Thinking

While you may not have to constantly deal with emergency cases and find solutions fasts, you might still have to deal with difficult situations from time to time. Maybe one of your patients’ situations is deteriorating fast, and you have to assess whether it’s natural or because they were negligent. You will also have to be able to discern if a patient is telling the truth or lying to you. Good critical thinkers can make better decisions. They are also better at building strong relationships with patients. This is why it’s so essential to have as an FNP.

Administrative Skills

Like we said earlier, family nurse practitioners can run their own clinics in most states in this country. You might be in charge of HR, managing employees, administrating relationships with suppliers, and managing supplies as well.

Running a clinic is about serving the public, but it’s a business as well. So, if you’re not ready to handle the business side of being a clinic owner, this is not the right path for you.

Compassion and Attentiveness

Depending on where you are, you might get a lot of work. You will still need to be able to show compassion and be attentive to your patients’ needs. Someone compassionate is better able to get information out of patients. Their patients are more comfortable with them, which leads them to open up more freely. Being attentive will be essential when looking for symptoms or issues that might manifest themselves later. You’ll also be able to notice some of your patients’ concerns or find out what the reason for some of their issues is. 

As you go on, you will start building genuine relationships with some of them. Knowing which treatments they may be apprehensive of will help you come with alternatives, or alleviate some of their fears. This alone could help save someone’s life. You cannot treat every patient the same either. You have to factor in things like their age and level of education, among others.


Attention to detail is a very underrated but extremely important trait not only for family nurses, but for nurses in general. A family nurse will be responsible for performing all sorts of actions, such as checking a patient’s medical history, diagnosis, and educating patients, among other things. This is why you will need to be detail-oriented and very organized.

If you aren’t, things can get bad very fast. This means that you could face serious consequences like disciplinary action and lawsuits, not to mention possibly having someone’s death on your conscience.

This will be even more important if you’re working in a primary care role. You will often have to work as the captain of the ship and make executive decisions. Miss one small detail and you could end up with a catastrophe on your hands. So, if you don’t have this trait, you should think twice about becoming an FNP.

High Tolerance to Stress 

While most family practitioners will admit that the job of an FNP is much less stressful than working in the ER, it doesn’t mean that it’s stress-free. You might get sudden calls from panicked family members whose parents or relatives are dealing with a deteriorating life-threatening condition. You might have to deal with a child suffering from an important allergic reaction, or one of your patients with behavioral issues might be spiraling out of control. Make a realistic assessment of your skills, traits, and personality, and see if you’re truly cut out for the profession.

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