A nurse practitioner, sometimes referred to as an advanced practice nurse, is a health care professional who has undergone extra education in a university setting to develop advanced skills and knowledge.
Nurse practitioners provide nursing care either individually or as part of a wider healthcare team in GP surgeries, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. They are often in charge of a patient's care from initial testing and diagnosis through to treatment and ongoing management.
Nurse practitioners can assess a patient, interpret diagnostic tests, give patients advice about self-care, create treatment plans and prescribe medication.
Great nurse practitioners are of undeniable benefit in a healthcare setting, with their extensive knowledge and specialized training allowing them to assist patients effectively.
In this article, we will discuss what tasks a nurse practitioner needs to do, what skills and abilities they need, and what a recruiter should look for in a candidate. We will also discuss how pre-employment tests can help the recruiter choose the right candidates according to their skills and abilities.
What should a nurse practitioner be able to do?
The usual tasks of a nurse practitioner might vary depending on the type of facility that they are working in, but there are certain things that a recruiter should expect a nurse practitioner to be able to do.
A nurse practitioner might be the first point of contact for a patient, so they need to be able to assess, diagnose and treat certain acute and chronic conditions such as diabetes, illnesses, and infections, with a focus on dealing with primary care procedures like immunizations and stitching wounds. Nurse practitioners can read, understand and interpret the results of diagnostic tests like x-rays and EKGs.
From the assessment of a patient, the nurse practitioner needs to develop and follow a treatment plan according to patient needs, scientific rationale, practice guidelines, and standards of care.
Depending on the problem, nurse practitioners might need to work in collaboration with specialists and other HCPs to manage or treat complex conditions.
Unlike other nursing roles, nurse practitioners are able to prescribe medications, including information about dosage, routes, and frequency as well as inform patients about any interactions the medication might have with food or other substances.
Nurse practitioners specialize in providing advice and information designed to promote health, reduce risk, and prevent disease. This might include therapeutic interventions or diagnostic treatments, and also covers self-management education for patients with chronic conditions.
Although being a nurse practitioner is mainly a hands-on role that requires a lot of interaction with patients and other staff, they must be able to keep precise patient records, schedule follow-up appointments, and refer a patient to a specialist when needed. Nurse practitioners tend to be in charge of all of a patient's care, which includes treatments, prognoses, and the supervision of support staff.
Skills to look for in a nurse practitioner
Aside from the compulsory nursing degree and extra graduate education that a nurse practitioner needs to have for the role, there are some other skills that you should look out for in potential candidates, including:
Critical Thinking, Judgement, and Decision Making: using all the tools available to them, a nurse practitioner needs to be able to think clearly about a problem to use their best judgement for informed decision-making about how to treat a patient for the best outcome.
Active Listening and Speaking: to be able to fully understand the history of a patient and the symptoms they are suffering, the nurse practitioner needs to be able to actively listen, which will also help put the patient at ease and build trust. To be able to inform and educate patients, they also need to be able to speak clearly and concisely.
Time Management: working on a busy ward, in a GP's office, or even in a hospice means that nurse practitioners need to be able to organize their time effectively, as well as ensure that support staff and other team members are also managing their time.
Persuasion and Negotiation: an important part of the role of a nurse practitioner is to convince people to change their bad habits for the prevention of disease or disability, and in some cases, this can be difficult without the right skills.
Mathematics: prescribing medication is not just about knowing what will work, but also using precise dosages to ensure the safety and efficacy of the treatment. Maths skills are needed every day as a nurse practitioner.
Useful abilities for a nurse practitioner
Alongside these skills, there are several different aptitudes and abilities that you should look for when you are hiring a nurse practitioner. These can make the difference between a successful hire and a bad one, so they are important. You should look for candidates who can demonstrate the following:
Oral Expression and Comprehension: successful nurse practitioners are able to understand patients when they speak and describe their symptoms, as well as being able to express themselves clearly.
Written Expression and Comprehension: the nurse practitioner is responsible for keeping meticulous records about the treatment of a patient, and they will need excellent written skills to ensure that the right information is shared. They will also need to be able to read and understand the written information created by others.
Inductive and Deductive Reasoning: logic is an important facet of treatment that a nurse practitioner needs. Both inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning skills will help the nurse practitioner to solve problems using all the available information.
Memorization: remembering the typical symptoms of different illnesses, knowing the right treatment options and providing useful information are all part of the nurse practitioner's role, and it would be impossible without good memory, both long-term and short-term.
Problem Sensitivity: the best nurse practitioners have excellent empathy, and are sensitive to the needs, concerns, and problems of their patients and colleagues. They might not immediately have the answers, but they are able to notice when there is a problem.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a nurse practitioner?
Soft skills are the inherent abilities that a candidate has which makes them ideal applicants for a role as a nurse practitioner. They aren't necessarily skills that are taught in the classroom, but they are transferable skills that make the potential nurse practitioner primed for success in the future. Some of the soft skills that you should look for in a nurse practitioner include:
Communication: communication skills cover both listening and speaking, so testing for communication will give the recruiter the data they need to decide whether an applicant has the right level of communication skills to be a successful nurse practitioner.
Leadership: nurse practitioners are often in charge of the whole treatment journey for a patient, from the initial diagnosis to aftercare treatment. They will also sometimes be responsible for the duties of support staff. For both of these scenarios, the leadership test will demonstrate their competence and ability to be a leader.
Teamwork: in most healthcare settings, the care of patients is a team effort, and the nurse practitioner needs to be able to work with support staff, specialists, GPs, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals to ensure the best care for a patient.
Decision Making: at every appointment and during other interactions with patients, the nurse practitioner must be confident in making decisions. This might be about what care plan to use, which medications to prescribe, or how best to help a patient through education and self-care.
Adaptability: in the world of healthcare, things can change very quickly, so a nurse practitioner must be able to work under pressure and with little to no outside direction. The adaptability test shows how comfortable a candidate is when faced with ever-changing priorities and competing deadlines.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a nurse practitioner?
Although nurse practitioners might be expected to use some form of software in their daily tasks, specifically for sharing information with other healthcare professionals, it is usually bespoke to the organization. However, there are some aptitudes that a recruiter could test applicants for.
Error Checking: a good eye for detail will help a nurse practitioner to notice small problems before they have a chance to become bigger. The error checking test is an assessment of the candidate's eye for detail.
Numerical Reasoning: although much of a nurse practitioner's day is spent reassuring, educating and essentially treating patients, they will need to be able to perform basic maths functions.
Logical Reasoning: the logical reasoning assessment measures how confident and competent an applicant is in applying logic to decision-making and following a reasoned train of thought to the right conclusion.
Verbal Reasoning: a good grasp of the language indicates that the applicant has the right aptitude for reading, understanding, and analyzing data.
Situational Judgement: the situational judgement test uses realistic work-based scenarios to get a picture of the candidate's work behavior. The questions vary, but the answers that a candidate gives will demonstrate their judgement and the way they deal with workplace problems.
Our recommended test battery for a nurse practitioner
The named pre-employment assessments above represent a really full picture of the capabilities that a recruiter is looking for in a candidate. However, there are many other tests available for applicants, so below is a synopsis of the test battery we would recommend when you are recruiting for a nurse practitioner.
Leadership: candidates are faced with questions that are based on simulated workplace scenarios. They must choose the most appropriate course of action to take to solve the problem while demonstrating their leadership skills.
Logical Reasoning: this is a multiple-choice test that presents candidates with a series of images or shapes in a sequence, with one item missing. The candidate must spot the pattern that governs the sequence, then follow that logic to choose the right answer.
Communication: the candidate needs to demonstrate their communication skills by choosing the right course of action to take which will best solve the problem in a given work-based scenario.
Verbal Reasoning: the candidate is presented with a passage of information that they will need to quickly read, understand and analyze before answering the related question. They must use the given information to select the correct answer from the multiple-choice options available.
For best results, we have created a specific Nurse Practitioner job knowledge test that includes questions relating to the skills, abilities, aptitudes and personality traits essential for success.