18 Nurse Practitioner Skills RNs Should Develop

Brandi Glass
5 min read
Nurse practitioner with patient

Developing your nurse practitioner skills will help you provide better, more empathetic care and improve patient safety. It can also help you achieve a promotion or pay rise, or even successfully apply for a new job as a nurse practitioner.

There are many areas in which nurse practitioners can improve skill sets, from clinical to people and leadership skills. Keep reading for some of the most important skills you should develop as a registered nurse.

Nurse Practitioner Clinical Skills

Nurse practitioner clinical skills are essential for improving patient outcomes and ensuring high standards of care.


Developing your triaging skills, especially in challenging situations such as telehealth, will help ensure patients receive the medical care they need as quickly as possible. It plays an important role in prioritizing patients, which means it is an essential skill for working in the emergency room.

History Taking

The better the patient’s history, the more informed medical staff are and the higher the chance of a positive patient outcome. Although history taking may sound simple, patients’ communication skills and English fluency can complicate it, as can their current health status and education level.

Clinical Documentation

Writing good clinical notes requires practice. Your notes need to be objective, clear and concise — but you don’t want to leave important information out either. Consider asking for feedback on your clinical documentation. You can also try reviewing old clinical notes to spot ways you could improve them.

Patient Treatment Plans

The best patient treatment plans will take into account the patient’s lifestyle, background and support levels, as well as their medical situation. This is what makes them so challenging. A mentor could give you feedback on your treatment plan and suggest ways to improve.

Pharmaceutical Knowledge

While you aren’t expected to have an encyclopedic knowledge of medicines, improving your pharmaceutical knowledge will help you make better recommendations, quickly spot potential side effects and triage effectively.

Procedural Skills

Injections, drawing samples, changing bandages, taking vital signs: developing your procedural nurse skills will immediately help you provide better medical care.

Nurse Practitioner Leadership Skills

Nurse practitioner leadership skills will help you throughout your career, whether you’re applying for a role as a nurse manager or simply want to better handle challenging situations on shift.

Advocating for Patients

Advocating for patients is one of the most important duties of a nurse practitioner, especially when patients are vulnerable. Although it can be challenging at first, respectfully advocating for patients can help lead to fewer mistakes and an overall better patient outcome.

Decision-Making in Difficult Situations

Nurse practitioners frequently face difficult situations that require fast decisions to be made. Although you’ll rarely be the primary person responsible for a patient’s care, there will be times when your decision will play an important role. Work on developing your confidence in decision-making, and remember that the best decision is always the one that puts patient safety first.


Nurse practitioners cannot hope to do everything. Sometimes you will need to delegate tasks to nursing assistants. Developing your delegating skills means improving your ability to recognize when you need to delegate, and doing so in a way that is clear, respectful and conducive to good teamwork.

Conflict Resolution

Whether two nurses disagree over a patient’s triage or a patient’s family member is unhappy, nurses often have to resolve conflict. This requires listening and communication skills so that all the parties involved feel heard and understand the decisions being made.

Policy Knowledge

The better your understanding of your workplace’s policies, the better positioned you are to make the correct decisions and advocate for patients. This also extends to patient confidentiality, consent and other key areas of compliance.

Nurse Practitioner People Skills

Whether you’re interacting with patients and their loved ones or your fellow nurses, interpersonal skills are essential for nurse practitioners.

Patient Education

Helping a patient understand their condition and treatment is essential for ensuring informed consent, as well as improving the likelihood of them following their treatment plan. Work on providing easy-to-understand but accurate explanations that are appropriate for different types of patients: children, older people, deaf people, people with developmental disorders and otherwise vulnerable people.


Empathetic care empowers and reassures patients, giving them agency over their medical treatment. It is essential for quality care.


Difficult patients and angry family members can be challenging, but nurse practitioners cannot afford to become frustrated. Developing your patience will help you provide more empathetic care and improve the patient-nurse relationship.

General Nurse Practitioner Skills

These soft skills are invaluable for nurse practitioners.


No workday is the same as a registered nurse. Patient conditions can rapidly change, which means you need to react quickly, support team members and adapt.


With multiple patients and fast-changing situations, nurses need to be able to correctly prioritize tasks. Patient safety is always the first consideration. However, ensuring patient safety may require quickly changing your priorities while on shift.

Attention to Detail

Whether you’re recording clinical notes or administering medication, even a small error can lead to major health complications for patients. Take a detail-oriented approach, remember to double-check things and pay attention to your tiredness levels. If you think you might make mistakes, alert a supervisor, take a break and ask a colleague to look over your work.

Stress Management

Being a registered nurse is stressful. Perhaps you’ve had a non-stop day with no breaks, or maybe you’ve had an emotionally challenging case. Regardless of what’s happened, you need to find ways to compartmentalize, decompress and set boundaries between your personal and professional lives. Whether it’s controlled breathing, yoga classes or gym sessions, developing stress management techniques will help you become a better registered nurse.

Highlight Your Nurse Practitioner Skills on Your Resume

When applying for a new job, your resume needs to demonstrate why you’re the best possible candidate. As well as detailing your qualifications, training and professional experience, it should also place your nurse practitioner skills center stage.

A well-written resume can help you not just perform well in nursing interviews but also negotiate an attractive starting salary. Crafting an excellent resume is an investment that will pay off.

Make sure your resume is machine-readable and professionally laid out. This will ensure that your application is judged based on your merits and not your choice of font or margin size. Don’t forget to customize your resume to the health center in question, either.

You can use our registered nurse resume templates for inspiration. Our resume builder can also help you out by suggesting the best resume structure based on your background and experience level, along with recruiter-suggested phrasing for essential nurse practitioner skills.

Build your resume and start applying for registered nurse roles with confidence.