Nurse practitioners are professionals who would prefer a more active role in their patients’ overall healthcare. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, there are more than 300,000 nurse practitioners in the United States.
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The Nurse Practitioner Role
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has continued their education and received either a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in nursing. He or she then passed the nurse practitioner exam and became certified.
If they choose a specialty area of medicine such as family care, maternity, mental health, or acute care, they must have further education in that area before getting their certification. If they choose not to go into a specific area, they work as a primary (which means they see patients for general illnesses/injuries and several other complaints. They do not care for patients who require a specialist.
In most states, nurse practitioners work on their own. In some states, NPs need to be supervised by a physician; Working independently, they can even open their practice or work in hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. They examine patients, order tests, make diagnoses and treatment plans. They are also able to prescribe medication.
The SMART Goal Principle
Using SMART goals is an ideal way to develop nurse practitioner goals. Here is what the acronym means.
- Specific: Goals have to be precise.
- Measurable: Your goal should have elements that can be measured.
- Attainable: Goals should be challenging but also attainable.
- Realistic: The goal should be reachable.
- Timely: Set deadlines for your goals.
SMART Goals for Nurse Practitioners
For the rest of the post, we will examine some SMART nurse practitioner goals.
Simple Goal: I need excellent communication skills.
SMART Goal: While my communication skills may be acceptable, I want them to be the best they can be, so my patients can understand everything I tell them. I will take a class on interpersonal skills for the next few weeks to improve my listening skills, talking skills, tone of voice, and nonverbal skills.
Simple Goal: I want to understand what my patients and their families go through when receiving a tragic or terminal diagnosis.
SMART Goal: Within the next month, I will go to a few support group meetings for people with terminal illnesses and to a group for grief support.
I will also talk with a bereavement/grief therapist to better understand their perspective and learn how to be supportive and empathic without becoming immersed in the process myself. I need to be able to “let go” of that patient and their family when the time comes.
Simple Goal: I will refresh my cultural sensitivity knowledge to remind myself that not everyone is the same.
SMART Goal: I will spend time in the community a few times a month, supporting the issues different cultures face. I will seek professional advice about various problems that the city has to address.
I try to be very attentive to each of my patients and ask about their cultural preferences so that the healthcare team can adjust the plan of care.
Simple Goal: I want my patients to feel comfortable talking to me.
SMART Goal: Every time I talk to a patient, I will offer them to ask questions. I will let every patient know not to hesitate to stop me during the conversation and ask for clarification if they don’t understand a medical term or concept. I will also tell them to feel free to contact me with questions, and I will be happy to answer them.
Sometimes patients are embarrassed to ask questions about specific topics. If they are comfortable with me, they will open up about any other concerns they may have, which is important because sometimes the simplest thing can turn out to be something significant. This allows my patients to get early and quick treatment.
Simple Goal: I will provide the best care possible for my patients.
SMART Goals: I will attend conferences, webinars, and workshops on various medical conditions. I will attend at least one or two a month. This will allow me to keep up to date on important information that could benefit my patients.
Simple Goal: I will educate myself about being there for my patients, mentally and emotionally.
SMART Goal: I will take a course for healthcare providers to learn what to look for in patients experiencing mental or emotional distress. Then I will find out how to ask the right questions and provide the correct answer. Every time I have an emotionally unstable patient, I will ask myself if that patient would benefit from a specialized consultation.
Simple Goal: I want my patients to feel like I am giving them 100% of my time and attention.
SMART Goal: I will not take any phone calls (unless it is an emergency), I will not step out of the room for a consultation with another NP or doctor until my patient has left. If my patient has a 30-minute appointment and needs more time, I will allow it to run over by 10 minutes, so they don’t feel like I am cutting them off.
Simple Goal: I will try to stay on schedule, so my patients don’t have to wait more than five minutes.
SMART Goal: I will come into the office 15 minutes early if I need to. I prepare myself for the day, so all I have to do is see my first patient when the office opens.
Simple Goal: I will always utilize the patient portal.
SMART Goal: As soon as I can review my patient’s lab results and other test results, I will put them in the patient portal so my patients have access to them. Of course, I will call any patients who have abnormal lab results before inputting them into the patient portal to discuss the results and provide a solution.
All vital signs, weight, BMI, vaccinations, tests ordered, the reason that brought the patient to the office, and treatment plan will be put into the patient’s electronic chart during the visit and available to the patient as soon as I close out their file. This allows the patient to refer to information discussed during the appointment and review their lab and test results later.
Related Reading: 10 Achievable Examples of Nursing Career Goals
Simple Goal: I want to stay organized in all areas of my career, which will benefit my patients and myself.
SMART Goal: I will use computer programs to keep all my patients records organized and easily accessible. Each quarter, I will review my workflow and work on improvements to streamline the process from sign-in to leaving the office. I will allow the patients to rate their office visit and review feedback quarterly.
Simple Goal: I want to be available to help and ask for help from my co-workers.
SMART Goal: I will always be courteous and professional with my co-workers and offer help if asked and ask for their help if needed. I make this known through an email.
Simple Goal: I will treat the support staff with the utmost respect.
SMART Goal: I realize that without the support staff, the office would fall apart. Therefore, I will make sure the receptionists, the medical and billing staff, and front-end employees know how much they are respected and appreciated.
One day a week, I will purchase a bulk size of pretzels or another snack type food each week to show my appreciation. During the holidays, I will give them all a gift and bring in cookies, candy, nuts, or other holiday type food for them to enjoy.
I will also do the same for our medical assistants who take our patients’ vital signs and get them set up and ready for me to see them.
Simple Goal: I will return all phone calls and renew all prescriptions at the end of each workday.
SMART Goal: I want my patients to feel important and that they are in good hands. I will use the notes section on my phone and keep a to-do-list for each patient at the end of each visit. I will never make my patients wait longer than the end of the business day to pick up their prescriptions or return phone calls.
If I feel a phone call from a patient warrants a visit that day, I will have the scheduler squeeze them in to see them. These things will allow me to be the best nurse practitioner I can be, and my patients will feel comfortable and confident in the care I provide.