The key to being an exceptional nurse practitioner

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As health care providers, especially as nurses, there is a sense of compassion that we have or is expected of us. I think remembering that we are not expected to have all of the answers, and that it’s not only ok, but important to explore our own struggles, is key to being a good nurse practitioner. This is especially important for new graduates to keep in mind because there is a keen sense of knowing that there is a lot you don’t know yet, but that’s ok. I was once told by a psychiatrist that some of the best providers are ones who know what they don’t know, and are not afraid to ask questions and learn more. The scariest providers are those to pretend to have all the answers and project unwavering confidence in their prescribing practices. 

What makes nurse practitioners so great (and might be our greatest superpower) is that we know there are things we don’t know (maybe a built-in insecurity) but it is a superpower nonetheless because we are generally sensitive to what we don’t know, so we tread lighter, less aggressively with treating patients with medications, we ask more questions, and listen to our patients closer. We know the limits of our knowledge and ask for help when we do not have the answers. This may differ a bit from new physician colleagues who, through training, may feel an expectation to know all the things, have all the answers. Because of this culture, they may be more hesitant to ask for help, feign confidence, and in the process potentially cause patient harm. So, yes, your superpower is that you know what you don’t know and are willing to learn more because of a perceived potential deficit.

Carry this superpower with confidence and use it to be an exceptional nurse practitioner.

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