The Five Characteristics Awesome Nurse Practitioners Have in Common

May 29, 2020   |   Healthcare Professional

Throughout my career, I’ve worked with nurse practitioners who are just flat out awesome. Over time, I began to notice patterns in these incredible clinician’s behaviors and attitudes. There are certain traits that seem to elevate a nurse practitioner from capable to exceptional, allowing them to provide the best possible care for their patients. This article discusses five of these attributes and suggests how you might strengthen them for yourself too.

Being curious means possessing a strong desire to learn and continue learning. This quality is essential for nurse practitioners practicing today. Scientific knowledge is expanding rapidly and, on top of that, it is becoming ever more complex. In fact, the amount of medical knowledge that a nurse practitioner must know today doubles every three years.

You must be dedicated to staying up-to-date on the latest treatments and clinical practice guidelines. To boost your curiosity, annually attend conferences and read medical journals and blogs. This will help you stay abreast of new tools that enable you to make the best decisions.

Empathy is the ability to feel and respond to the needs of a patient with authenticity and compassion. Contrary to common belief, empathy is not just something you’re born with–it’s a competency that can be learned like any other skill. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “try walking a mile in my shoes,” they’re talking about empathy.

This trait is essential for clinicians like nurse practitioners who interact with patients daily. If you’d like to hone your ability to empathize, remember that listening to the patient is key. By understanding your patient, you can work towards finding common ground and cultivating empathy through the skill of listening and finding commonalities with the struggles that they are experiencing.

The most successful nurse practitioners exhibit the trait of enthusiasm – a love and passion for their work. Enjoying what you do keeps you motivated and in the present, which in turn drives nurse practitioners to be the best that they can be. To boost your enthusiasm, make sure you’re finding joy in your accomplishments and surround yourself with colleagues and friends who share your drive and support your joy. A high five in the hallway with a coworker can put a smile on your face and remind you why you love your profession!

Follow your passions with peace of mind by having CM&F nurse practitioner malpractice insurance. All CM&F policies provide portable 24/7 coverage, following you wherever you go. One policy covers all your roles within scope of practice, including full-time, part-time, contract, and volunteer positions.

Tenacity encompasses determination and perseverance. While this resolve is an excellent characteristic in any career, NPs in particular need to stay driven, focused, and motivated in order to function at the high level required for their clinical roles. While loving your job is great motivation (see “enthusiasm” above!), it’s important to have the willpower to push forward even when the going gets tough. If you find yourself lacking tenacity, try setting small manageable goals throughout the day – achieving something, however slight, can be a huge morale boost.

As medical professionals, nurse practitioners have the responsibility to behave ethically and honestly at all times. Every patient represents an opportunity to uphold the standards and reputation of the nurse practitioner role and develop a relationship of trust. It’s equally important to be honest and ethical with your coworkers and peers, especially since the quality of these relationships can have a huge impact in the workplace. Always practice your best ethics, and always stand up for what is right for your patient!

As NP’s roles expand, their risk of being named in a malpractice suit increases. It is more important than ever that all nurse practitioners carry their own NP malpractice insurance for protection of their personal assets, as well as their license.

Empathy, enthusiasm, tenacity, and integrity. These are traits I’ve seen in my most successful colleagues. Do you know a nurse practitioner who exhibits these traits?

Is there a characteristic missing that makes you successful? Share your thoughts below!

By Melissa DeCapua, DNP, PMHNP
Dr. Melissa DeCapua is a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner who graduated from Vanderbilt University. Her background is in child and adolescent psychiatry as well as psychosomatic medicine, and she currently works as a researcher Microsoft. She is a strong advocate for empowering nurses, and she fiercely believes that nurses should play a pivotal role in shaping modern healthcare. For more information, visit and follow her on Twitter @melissadecapua.


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