Although I have worked as a nurse practitioner for nearly 10 years, I still have a lot to learn. The world of medicine is vast, so it’s inevitable that patients will ask questions I don’t have an answer to or that I’ll need to refer for specialty care. Earlier in my career, I worried that such “I don’t know” moments damaged my credibility as a healthcare provider among patients and coworkers alike. I’ve come to realize, however, that not knowing the answer typically does not put an NP’s reputation at stake. Rather, there are a number of mistakes that nurse practitioners make that can damage credibility in a big way.
If you’re an NP, whether fresh out of your graduate program or with years of experience, steer clear of these common mishaps and bad habits to preserve your workplace reputation.
1. Making #%&*(# Up
If you’re a new grad, insecurity is normal. When coworkers ask you clinical questions, for example, you get nervous if you aren’t sure of the answer, fearful you’ll be exposed as a fraud of a provider. Or, perhaps, embarrassed when an overseeing physician asks you about a patient’s medical history, you’re tempted to fill in the gaps to areas in which you forgot to question your patient.
Lying, fabricating, and just plain guessing will always do you a disservice as a nurse practitioner. If you aren’t sure about something, speak up or ask. Insecurity about how you’ll be perceived if you don’t know an answer or forgot to do something is the lesser of two evils. Dishonesty can mean clinical mistakes and will damage your credibility to a far greater extent than simply admitting you aren’t sure. The truth always comes out in the end.
2. Slacking Off
Working in healthcare is hard. Patients typically seek our assistance when they’re going through difficult times. So, we’re expected to offer reassurance and patience. Not to mention, the demands of nurse practitioners are ever-increasing. Not only do we interact with patients, the back-end work of charting, reviewing test results and complying with guidelines means a never-ending stack of paperwork. Despite the challenges you face as an NP, it’s essential to be a team player. Employers expect providers to be hard workers who pull their own weight. Yes, our jobs do get easier with time and experience, but the culture of working in healthcare remains one of diligence. Slacking off shows. Your coworkers will notice a lackluster effort and your respect on the job will pay a price.
3. Taking Too Much Advantage of Flexibility
Flexibility is rare as a nurse practitioner. In a patient-facing role, time off must typically be planned in advance. Working from home is rare. But, when it comes to the perks you do enjoy that make your job adaptable, proceed with caution. It’s easy to slip, allowing yourself to arrive later and later for work when tardiness initially goes unnoticed. Your coworkers will eventually tire of trading shifts to accommodate your scheduling needs. Show your commitment to the career you’ve worked hard to build by being mindful of the benefits you enjoy as a nurse practitioner and keep enjoying them responsibly.
4. Neglecting to Realize the Importance of Every Day
Just like in a romantic relationship, when you’re either growing together or growing apart with little standstill in between, a similar concept holds true on the job. Each day, you’re either building rapport as a nurse practitioner, or eroding your reputation. Keep your performance at work consistent to maintain the respect of your coworkers, superiors and patients.
5. Accept and Respond to Feedback
As nurse practitioners, we all have room for improvement. Changes are, you’ll receive feedback from your boss from time to time that comes across as harsh, negative, or just plain something you don’t want to hear. Learn to accept feedback about your job performance and act on it. After all, learning that you have room to improve and being given the chance to work on a shortcoming is far better than being terminated. Improvement is part of life – don’t neglect this in the professional realm.
What steps do you take to build credibility in your workplace as a nurse practitioner?
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