Nurse Practitioner Education: Resources & Tips for Teaching the Next Generation of Nurses
One million current registered nurses are projected to retire by 2030, according to the health policy journal Health Affairs. Many of them have decades of professional experience and a vast knowledge base that is immensely beneficial to their health care organizations and the patients they treat.
Nurse educators ensure that students receive the required nurse practitioner education by providing them with the necessary knowledge and advanced skills to succeed in the front lines of health care. Those wanting to become nurse educators should have a firm understanding of the resources and technology available for instructing the next generation of nurses.
Understanding Fundamental Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements
Serving as a nurse practitioner can be a rewarding career choice for professionals who want to make a positive impact in their communities and on patients’ lives. Those who want to become nurse practitioners should have a firm understanding of nurse practitioner education guidelines and the skills necessary to thrive in this role.
Typical Responsibilities of a Nurse Practitioner
MedlinePlus notes that some of the common responsibilities of nurse practitioners include:
● Taking a patient’s medical history, performing exams, and ordering tests
● Managing the diagnosis and treatment of disease
● Writing prescriptions and providing physician referrals
● Conducting certain medical tasks and procedures
Fundamental Nursing Concepts
Some of the fundamental nursing concepts that NPs need to understand to have a well-rounded education include:
● Evidence-based practice: Knowing how to properly treat and help patients using techniques and methodologies that are rooted in science
● Pharmacology: Studying the chemical properties of drugs and understanding how the body reacts to particular medications
● Health promotion: Following best practices when discussing health issues with patients and finding ways to promote overall health
Essential Skills for Nurse Practitioners
Essential skills for nurse practitioners include:
● Health assessment and treatment capabilities, such as being able to make firm and effective diagnoses without error
● Soft skills such as teamwork, communication, confidence, and problem-solving
● Organizational skills such as those needed for planning, prioritization, and making scheduled visits to check on patients
Nurse Practitioner Education: Tips and Resources for Nurse Educators
The projected job outlook for nurse practitioners looks to be strong in the next decade. For nurses to attain one of these rewarding and in-demand roles, they’ll need to possess the necessary education and skills that instructors and educators can help provide.
Tips for Nurse Educators
The specific educational and job experience requirements for a nurse educator position can vary from role to role, but these tips can benefit nurse educators regardless of where they may work.
● Identify and establish a personal teaching philosophy, guided by one’s own ideas and values, that resonates with students.
● Use data and analytics to design curriculums, see what’s working and what isn’t, and discover ways to improve students’ academic experiences.
● Form early and strong relationships with colleagues and become familiar with the school’s larger nursing initiatives.
Nursing Technology Resources
Technology is a vital component of a nurse practitioner’s job and of a strong nurse practitioner education. While many NPs are accustomed to using and monitoring medical devices, such as electronic blood pressure monitors or electrocardiogram (EKG) devices, new technologies have become more prevalent in the field in recent years, and nurse educators and instructors often serve as the professionals who help nurses learn how to use them. A nurse educator with a strong background in using these technologies can prove beneficial to their students’ learning experience.
Some of the technology that nurse practitioners use can include:
● Robotics: The Medical Futurist describes how robots are helping nurses perform menial tasks, allowing the professionals to spend more time with patient populations.
● Telemedicine: Nurses use telemedicine tools, such as video conferencing, to work with patients who may not be able to visit in person.
● Electronic health records (EHRs): Nurses use EHRs to properly organize and maintain patient information so it can be digitally stored and easily accessed by health professionals.
● Other tools: HealthTech magazine describes how voice-activated technologies, more secure text messaging services, telehealth systems, and even ride-sharing apps that reduce appointment no-show rates are helping to improve the field.
Interpersonal and Soft Skills
Unsurprisingly, nurse educators must also possess and master soft skills to excel in their roles. A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) focused on the key core competencies nursing instructors need to be able to provide effective education and help mold capable and astute nurses. Among the core competencies were communication, collaboration, partnership, management, leadership, and advocacy.
For communication, collaboration, and partnership, nurse educators can acknowledge students as adult learners, be enthused about their work to inspire students, use caring and patience to help manifest learning, and advise students so they may reach their professional goals, according to the WHO.
For management, leadership, and advocacy, nurse educators can incorporate values such as respect and collegiality to foster positive learning environments, serve as advocates for the importance of nursing, and exude confidence during presentations, the WHO notes.
Similar to hard skills, the soft skill requirements for nurse practitioner educators can vary depending on an educator’s particular organization and role.
The Future of Nurse Practitioner Education: What Nurse Educators Should Know
Along with the projected rise in the number of nursing positions in the near future, there will likely be a broadening of the nurse practitioner role in response to new developments in the health care landscape. Nurse educators need to ensure that their students are prepared for future evolutions in nursing.
Addressing Diverse Patient Populations
For many individuals in the United States, receiving treatment for their health issues isn’t as easy as going to a medical facility and consulting with a doctor. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) notes that health care disparities exist among individuals depending on their ethnicities, locations, socioeconomic status, and other factors. Plus, some individuals who have migrated to the U.S. may not have a comprehensive understanding of how the American health care system operates.
These challenges are difficult and don’t have easy or immediate solutions. Still, nurse educators can help their students be prepared to address issues in the field by providing them with a strong knowledge base of health issues that diverse patient populations may face.
Some examples of diverse patient needs include:
● Individuals from foreign countries who do not speak English and need an interpreter to be able to have their health concerns addressed
● Low-income individuals who are not able to afford necessary procedures
● Individuals who live in rural communities and do not have access to health organizations that provide high-quality care
Here are additional sources that can benefit nurse educators in tackling challenges regarding diversity in the future:
● PRS Global Open published an extensive report on the need for diversity and cultural competency in plastic surgery, lessons that can apply to other health fields as well
● Modern Healthcare’s article discusses the need for diversity and inclusion within the health field
● HealthIT.gov provides an article on how patient portals can be used to address diverse needs
Changes in Health Insurance and Coverage
Differing opinions on health insurance and coverage indicate that how and how many Americans are insured will continue to shift. The fact is that many people in the United States are uninsured: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), over 28 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2019.
Nurse educators can play a valuable role in this changing arena. The WHO notes ethical and legal principles and professionalism as one of the core competencies for nurse educators. These professionals can teach the next generation of nurses how to assist patients who may not have a firm understanding of the legal intricacies of the U.S. medical system, or how to handle and address any legal or ethical conflicts that may arise when treating patients or handling issues with a patient’s health insurance.
Highly educated nurse practitioners need to keep abreast of developments in the health insurance industry, as they can impact the patients they treat and potentially the services they provide. Nurse educators can give their students guidance in this area. Resources that nurse educators can turn to stay current on changes in all aspects of health insurance include:
● HealthCare.gov, the United States’ official portal for federal health care information, tools, and services
● Kaiser Health News, which has frequent updates about developments in health insurance and the health industry
● Modern Healthcare, which provides thorough stories on health insurance and related items
● U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which shares updates and news regarding health insurance
Health and Medical Trends Resources
Here are resources for nurse educators and practitioners to stay current on the health and medical trends that are relevant to their careers:
● Health Catalyst 2020: This report discusses three prominent health care trends, how they’re impacting the health field, and what nurses can do to be prepared for them.
● Healthcare IT News: This news outlet overviews the most recent developments and news in technology and its role in health care.
● American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The website for this organization provides frequent and up-to-date educational resources and news for nursing professionals.
● National League for Nursing: This organization provides helpful teaching resources to nurse educators and nurse practitioners working in different fields and with certain patient populations.
Preparing Nurses for the Future of Health Care
Since designing and implementing a relevant curriculum is one of the nurse educator’s core competencies, as outlined by the WHO, it is important that nurse educators consider these evolving trends when developing those curriculums. The health care field is rapidly changing and nurse educators can best serve the next generation of nurses by preparing them for the dynamic health care field of the future.