4 Qualities of Successful Nurse Practitioner Students

By Nurse Practitioner Student Justin Groce

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to a nurse practitioner program. But, don’t celebrate for too long. The next few years will be a doozy. Whether your NP program is for post-BSN students or you’re completing an MSN bridge program, re-learning old material in conjunction with studying the new will be a day-to-day battle. Not to mention, keeping up with family and personal life along with a career and other interests will be a balancing act.

Succeeding in your nurse practitioner program you will take some strategy. So, without further ado, here are a few qualities that I have noticed lead to NP program success.

1. Successful students enroll for the right reasons

You want to become a nurse practitioner to help people. I get it. I really do. I want to help people, too. But, you know who else helps people? Electricians, mechanics, dog sitters, and even the cashier at your local Publix. Prior to enrolling in an NP bridge program I was a personal trainer and nutrition coach for seven years (and still am…on a very limited basis). Did I help people? In my very best Sarah Palin voice, “you betcha!”. Even before I began college, my goal was to become a nurse practitioner, I just took a looong time to get there.

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To be successful in school, you must know exactly why you want to want to become a nurse practitioner. This will keep you motivated. If your goal is to become part of the ever-evolving field of medicine while working with flexibility and autonomy in your career all while helping others, then go ahead and lick the stamp on your application envelope.

2. Successful students prepare for change

To be successful in your nurse practitioner education you must be…drum roll…prepared. If you start your program expecting it to be a breeze, your performance will turn out to be less than ideal. On the flip side, too much anxiety when it comes to the “what if’s” and the unexpected will cause you to falter. Instead, use your enthusiasm towards school to fuel your transition. Make sure you have your ducks in a row before attending your first class. Don’t wait until the week before school starts to begin looking for a new apartment.

From writing peer-reviewed articles to small group case studies you will be inundated with an immense amount of material to learn. Can you recall the location of the iliopsoas muscle? What about how to use the PubMed research database? Brush up on your skills before you enter your program. And, when you feel overwhelmed, remember you can do it!

Many students I encounter in my NP program that have a difficult time do so because they didn’t think far enough ahead, especially when it came to their living situation and finances. I even had peers still looking for housing while in school- be prepared!

3. Successful students make time for themselves

Have you ever noticed how the phrase is “make time”? If you want to participate in activities you find relaxing or enjoyable you must be intentional about making time. Many of my successful peers are able to fit studying, exercise, and even leisure activities like going to a movie every now and then into their schedules. When you’re balancing 6 to 10 hours of coursework and clinicals each day, free time doesn’t just magically appear.

One strategy I have found most helpful is planning my schedule in month long blocks. I understand that not everyone is a type A personality like myself so this may seem rigid. My day-to-day looks something like this: wake up at 5am, commute 45 minutes, work out at the rec center, attend class or clinicals from 8am to 4pm (sometimes 6am to 6pm), commute 75 minutes home, plan meals for the following day, study 90 minutes, sleep and repeat. Fun, eh? Not really, But, it works!

4. Successful students have fun 

That’s right- successful students know how to have fun. How, you ask? If becoming a nurse practitioner is really want you want to do, you will have a burning passion to enjoy each day at school, every lecture, and each learning opportunity. If you find that you are not enjoying the learning process, then you may not be in the right field. This is fine, as long as you recognize it.


NP students- what other qualities do you notice lead to NP program success?


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