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8 challenges for a new nurse practitioner and tips to overcome them

An African American doctor and nurse practitioner use a laptop in a clinic

Top 8 challenges for new nurse practitioner and how to overcome them

In the UK, becoming a new nurse practitioner (NP) is both exciting and scary, because most of them were experts in their previous nursing jobs but are just starting out in their new job. The transition to becoming a new nurse practitioner can be challenging, and you must be prepared to face it if you want to gain confidence and respect in your role.  

In this article, we will look at the challenges that a nurse practitioner may face in the UK and how to overcome them.  

What is a nurse practitioner?  

A nurse practitioner is an Advanced Practise Registered Nurse (APRN) who has completed the required nurse practitioner education, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practise (DNP). They can provide a wide range of acute, primary, and specialty care services on their own or in collaboration with a doctor.  

Even after getting a degree, most nurse practitioners in the UK have to deal with the following problems in their careers:  

1. Being compared to a doctor  

Most new nurse practitioners in the UK are constantly fighting for recognition. They are compared to physicians by their colleagues and family members because they have no idea what their job entails. Furthermore, as a new nurse practitioner gains independence and traction, some healthcare facilities push back by restricting their scope of practise. Instead of viewing new nurse practitioners as another type of care provider, they may regard them as "wannabe doctors" who threaten their income.  

How to overcome: It may be difficult to change people's attitudes, but you can always educate them about nurse practitioners and answer their questions.  

2. Rushing through hospital orientation  

Based on studies, next-generation nurse practitioners expect and need the same orientation post-graduation as before. Unfortunately, this isn't happening because of COVID. Instead, this is happening because the healthcare industry is facing a huge shortage of nurses, especially critical care nurses and nurse practitioners. This shortage is forcing hospitals to speed up the orientation process for new nurse practitioners. Generally, a new nurse practitioner receives 3–6 months of orientation. However, this is not happening post-COVID.  

How to overcome: Try to gain knowledge during those short orientations and get insights from your co-workers so that you can work smoothly.  

3. Emotional labour  

Whatever specialty you choose as a nurse practitioner, you will play an important role in people's lives that can be intimate, heartbreaking, inspiring, fulfilling, and more. Another important part of being a new nurse practitioner is getting to know your patients and building trust with them. Guiding people to better health during vulnerable times in their lives can be taxing. One of the most difficult challenges for nurse practitioners is not bringing these emotional situations home with them.  

How to overcome: Checking in with yourself at the end of the workday is one of the best ways to separate the emotional aspects of your work from your personal life. What difficulties did you have today? Where is your mind? How will you go home and not take this with you? If you must take it, how will you cope? And what is your support system? Practicing self-awareness and utilising emotional support when needed can be the most effective way to cope with the emotions that arise from caring for others.  

4. Varying schedules  

Working as a nurse practitioner in the UK can offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to your schedule, and this has its own pros and cons. Depending on your specialty and the department you work in, you may either have a fixed schedule or a shift system. One of the biggest challenges of being a new nurse practitioner in the UK is adjusting to the work-life balance.  

How to overcome: If you are a person who can't cope well with night shifts, it is better to convey this during the interview. Additionally, making the most of your days off will help you deal with an unpredictable schedule. Like with any job, the support system is crucial. Having people who listen, understand your work life, and encourage you to take care of yourself is important.  

5. Facing rejection from patients  

Be ready to face rejection from patients, as most of them don't want to see a nurse practitioner or don't understand what a nurse practitioner is. This is not very common but just be prepared as it might affect you if you are not careful.  

Nurses in general are considered patient educators, and as you gain experience, you will develop the skills to explain to patients who you are and what your job entails.  

How to overcome: It is better to keep your ego aside while treating patients. Try to make your patients understand your job and provide them with the best treatment and care possible

6. High-stress levels  

Every job has its own stress level, but being a nurse practitioner in the UK can be especially stressful because there are so many things that may go wrong. When we are caring for others, we neglect our own health.  

How to overcome: Being proactive with your stress management can help you manage it. You can manage stress by getting 8 hours of sleep, doing regular exercise, eating healthy, keeping your body hydrated, or, if you feel your stress level is too high, consulting a professional. Create a healthy habit and follow it. Remember, you have to take care of yourself in order to give your best self while you are at work.  

7. Lots of charting  

In the UK, if you want to be a nurse practitioner, you have to do more than just see patients. You also have to record your interactions with them and write clinical notes, which makes the job boring and time-consuming. Every person is unique, and charting in a way that maximises your time and energy is one of the nurse practitioner's challenges.  

How to overcome: Every nurse practitioner must figure out the best way possible to finish writing their clinical notes and charts. It is advisable to finish these before heading home so that you do not cause undue stress and are more likely to remember the interaction.  

8. Skill maintenance  

During nurse practitioner schooling in the UK, you might have learned many skills and/or procedures to help care for a variety of patients. Whether you are a new nurse practitioner or experienced, you need to keep updating all the skills you have learned.  

How to overcome: Overcoming this challenge involves a few steps. First, understand that you can always re-learn skills from another clinician in the future if you need to. Second, whatever job you are taking, talk with your supervisor about which skills you would like to retain or learn so that they can help you maintain these skills. Ultimately, you will always be learning as a new nurse practitioner in the UK, and there is always the option to learn from others. Moreover, there are various phone apps and online databases with evidence-based guidelines that are very easy to use.  

Nurses Group is a leading nursing agency in Yeovil, with branches all over the UK. Join us for the best nursing career in the UK. 

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