What Are Skills For A Nurse Practitioner? (With Examples)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a health care professional with a graduate degree in advanced nursing. A nurse practitioner's scope of work involves a broad array of health care services. Learning more about the important skills of a nurse practitioner can help you advance your career in this field. In this article, we discuss what nurse practitioner skills are, review their importance, examine the types of skills that are essential for a nurse practitioner and identify ways to improve nurse practitioner skills.

What Are Skills For A Nurse Practitioner?

Skills for a nurse practitioner are the necessary set of expertise and traits that practitioners use to render quality health care services with optimal output and high levels of efficiency. These skills include a combination of hard skills and technical abilities, like ability to complete clinical practices, and soft skills that contribute to the overall health care services they provide. Besides the core knowledge and theoretical competency needed, employers often place emphasis on those skill sets that distinguish a candidates, as their role can be as important as the physician.

Related: What Does A Staff Nurse Do? (Skills And Responsibilities)

Why Are Skills For A Nurse Practitioner Important?

The critical health care services nurse practitioners provide are dynamic and comprehensive. It is also essential to have an expansive approach while developing the many skills necessary for a nurse practitioner. The hard skills like clinical practices and methodologies complement well with the soft skills and their underlying interpersonal aspects. Below are some of the reasons why skills for a nurse practitioner are important:

  • Work with a greater degree of efficiency and provide high-quality clinical services

  • Be an advantageous and valuable team member and effectively contribute to the team

  • Grow as a practitioner with greater abilities and traits that effectively enable and empower patients

  • Build strong, trusting relationships within the institution or with the employer and the patients under your care

  • Be accustomed to developing and improving clinical practices

  • Have leverage over your career trajectory and advance your career interests

  • Have a good work-life balance

Related: Nursing Roles and Responsibilities: A Complete Guide

Examples Of Skills For A Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners may have specific aptitudes and inherent capacities that suit specific specialisations. In addition to this, a broad range of general skill sets and abilities are utilised across this field and are necessary to excel as a nurse practitioner. These also include skills that are not ideally a part of academics. Here is a list of hard and soft skills that are vital to the role of a nurse practitioner:


Triaging is the assessment of the health care service to be given to a patient. In case of multiple patients, it is essential to allocate the treatment based on the severity. Following a proper triage protocol beforehand helps you determine the priority of the treatment given to the patients. Timely care involves evaluating the situation and being resourceful with the supplies and the type of treatment to be administered.

Example: A mother brings her ill child to the hospital as the child is displaying symptoms of weakness. Here, an assessment is made based on the child's response to stimuli. You can conduct the preliminary examination while considering the child's frame of mind and checking the vitals when the child is calm and dormant. You can attend to the other patients on an issue basis and take up cases of high priority if required.

Administration and procedural skills

A nurse practitioner is responsible for prescribing clinical treatments and administering drugs. Effectively performing other medical procedures like suturing, biopsies and microscopy requires procedural skills that a practitioner may develop. This enables you to engage with a diverse range of clinical practices and render more comprehensive services.

Example: A person had a minor accident in a metal workshop and requires timely care to avoid infection. In this case, you may administer an appropriate dosage of tetanus antitoxin at the preferred injection site with minimal hassle. To fix the laceration, you may choose an easily absorbable material and proceed with a simple interrupted suture procedure. It may be important to suture the wound in a manner that leaves a thinner, less visible scar.

Leadership skills

It is essential for nurse practitioners to possess strong leadership skills to effectively serve patients and provide effective clinical services. Practitioners have high levels of responsibility that they may want to take on and are generally seen as authority figures by the patients who are under their care. As a nurse practitioner, you may assume the pivotal role of motivating and inspiring your patients through your proactive measures.

Example: An elderly person with geriatric conditions is admitted for further examination and kept under observation. In such a case, it is critical that they know about the issue in a simplified manner. You may assign certain procedural tasks to an assistant who has experience in this domain. You may ease the patient's concern through empathic listening.

Time management skills

Effective time management to increase productivity and your work output is a useful skill you may develop as a nurse practitioner. It is essential to have a structured schedule, organise the tasks for the day or the week and develop practical time management strategies. You may also appropriately delegate your tasks to handle the situation promptly.

Example: During the winter months when influenza outbreaks typically occur, a practitioner can do a proper assessment and formulate a long-term schedule based on the number of appointments made through calls and the frequency of walk-in patients. This may help prepare the vital supplies on a priority basis for quick access.

Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution is an essential skill that a nurse practitioner may develop to effectively handle the patients under their care. At times, practitioners may encounter scenarios where the patient displays hostility or the visiting family members may be emotional or nervous. In such cases, understanding their concerns and relieving their grievances may bring a calm environment.

Example: A person makes an appointment to check on his back pain. After additional examinations and diagnosis, he may have to undergo minimally invasive surgery. The patient develops a sense of reluctance and projects his agitation towards the physician in charge. In such a case, you may increase their confidence by communicating the issue in a simplified manner and suggesting possible non-invasive alternatives and their repercussions. You may also educate them about possible coverage plans that are available to them to ease their financial burden.

Language skills

Being fluent in more than one language can help you cater to a diverse group of patients. You can enrol yourself in a language course or learn basic phrases and sentences and actively use them whenever relevant. Knowing the locally spoken languages is advantageous in many ways and enables you to render your services effectively.

Example: A family who have travelled from the neighbouring rural town for a regular check-up converse in a dialect that is different from what's spoken in the city. In this case, you may formally introduce yourself in the language known to them, instilling a sense of comfort and establishing a working rapport. You may also assist them by effectively translating their queries and concerns with the authorities or the physician in charge.


The ability to quickly adapt to situations is an effective skill a nurse practitioner may develop to provide quality health care services. There may be an element of uncertainty that comes along with clinical practice and being adaptive in your approach to changing situations may help you offset emerging challenges. Having a dynamic approach helps you evaluate unpredictable scenarios and this ensures a patient's experience is a positive one.

Example: A fire accident victim needs immediate medical attention for his burn injuries and a team is put to the task on priority basis. In such a case, you may offer assistance to your colleague's patients for the day, perform the physical examinations as per the protocols and update the electronic medical record system on their behalf. You may also actively observe the in-house patients who are under the treatment of your colleague.

Related: Nurse Resume Skills To Boost Your CV: Tips and Suggestions

Ways To Improve Nurse Practitioner Skills

Academic training provides the most fundamental skills essential for performing the duties of a nurse practitioner. In addition to this, your competence and success depend on how you actively improve your skill sets while working as a practitioner. By seeking additional certification and enrolling in courses that are relevant to their field, nurse practitioners can develop their skill sets effectively. For instance, a practitioner in the paediatric field can enrol themselves in a course that deals with child psychology and early childhood development.

Best practices can keep changing over time with new findings and research. Nurse practitioners may stay updated about emerging developments by constantly researching what's happening in their field and reading peer-reviewed articles and standard medical journals.

Explore more articles