The healthcare industry is in dire need of capable professionals these days, yet many aspiring med students and seasoned industry veterans alike are uncertain of how they should go about advancing their careers. As the global population continues to live for longer periods than ever before, our existing demand for healthcare professionals will only grow with time, too. Those who are considering foraying into the medical industry should consider becoming an advanced nurse practitioner, a vital position that's necessary to ensure the health and wellbeing of patients everywhere.

Here's how to become an advanced nurse practitioner, and what you should know before you start trying to push your career in a new direction.

Healthcare is still evolving

If there's one thing that's certain about the modern healthcare industry, it's the fact that healthcare is still evolving at a breakneck pace. This means that the role of the nurse practitioner and advanced nurse practitioner has changed over the past few years, particularly as digital disruption upends established norms and ushers in new ways of providing patients with the care they need. Alongside of this continued evolution of the healthcare industry, the role of the nurse practitioner and advanced nurse practitioner has changed, oftentimes accruing a variety of confusing titles that can perplex even the oldest and most seasoned of professionals.

Luckily, some recent guidance can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to determining the differences between a standard nurse practitioner and an advanced one. Health Education England (HEE) provided one of the most useful ways of defining an advanced nurse practitioner. The organization asserts that an advanced nurse practitioner requires a master's degree (or similar qualifications) in four key areas: clinical practice, leadership/management, education/research, and a demonstration of specific clinical competence.  

Those who are interested in advancing up the career leader must become fundamentally well-equipped to succeed in all of these four areas. While every professional has their strengths and weaknesses, you must demonstrate a strong competence across the board for these skills and areas if you hope to enjoy gainful employment over a long period of time. The massive increase in patient demand over the past few years has spurred many towards becoming an advanced nurse practitioner, but the rocky road towards success has stymied the dreams of more than a few of them.

Learning about primary care

If you want to succeed as an advanced nurse practitioner, you'll want to arrive at a thorough understanding of your responsibilities when it comes to primary care. You'll need to work well with a professional team, which demands flexibility and an ability to listen and play well with others. If you're committed to becoming an advanced nurse practitioner, you'll want to set some time aside so that you can closely review the flexible work practices in nursing that set the professionals apart from the amateurs.

All types of advanced practice nurses can expect their labor market to keep growing in the near-future, too, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics asserts that the job availability in this field will grow by a whopping 31 percent between 2012 and 2022. This kind of explosive growth could be your ticket to the big leagues, but you'll need to take your education seriously if you intend to achieve your dreams. Often, advanced nurse practitioners are expected to have core-competence in specialized areas, which often takes year of experience to accrue. Nonetheless, you require a generalist skill set as you'll never really know what you're going to be encountering on your average day of work.

Perhaps above all else, you need to understand that clinical decision-making is an imperative part of the job, as nurse's scrubs are, especially as you'll often be held responsible for your actions. Coming up with preventative measures to keep your patients healthy and strong in the long-run is a crucial part of your role as an advanced nurse practitioner, but you'll also need to listen to others in your team to consider what their game plan may be, too.

Clinical experience matters

If you think you don't have what it takes, you should understand that your clinical experience matters and will help you quite a bit. Nonetheless, a higher education is usually necessary, so be prepared to grapple with the expensive cost of returning to school again. If you review an advanced nurse practitioner fact sheet, you'll quickly discover that many of the skills needed to succeed can only be derived from real-world experience dealing with patients and other medical professionals.

With the burgeoning healthcare industry in dire need of additional professionals to help soothe the pain and illnesses of patients, becoming an advanced nurse practitioner is more viable and profitable than ever before. Keep yourself focused on flexibility, working well with a team but remaining independent, and accruing useful industry experience and you'll be on the road towards a new job in no time.