The healthcare landscape is shifting towards a collaborative model where diverse teams work together to provide premium healthcare services. One of the central figures on these teams are nurse practitioners. This is especially true in states like North Carolina (NC), where there is a growing demand for advanced nursing roles.

Nurse practitioners are a vital addition to NC’s healthcare system, and reputable universities, such as Texas Woman’s University, are shaping enthusiasts to become effective in their field. If you’re wondering how to become a Nurse Practitioner in NC, Texas Woman’s University offers that opportunity through its Online Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Program.

This program is designed to develop nurses’ problem-solving and leadership skills. This, in turn, will create efficient nurses in the state. This article will discuss collaborative practices in healthcare and the dynamic roles of nurses in different healthcare settings.

What is collaborative practice in healthcare?

Collaborative healthcare brings different professionals from various fields together. These professionals work with patients, families, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care. A collaborative work environment will help healthcare teams function more effectively than through solo work. How? A professional may get helpful information that they may have overlooked from another professional on the same team.

There are two distinct ways to achieve collaborative practices in healthcare. There’s the multispecialty team and the interprofessional kind of team. Multispecialty teams are composed of professionals from various medical specialties. For example, a patient with cancer might have a team that includes oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, and nurses. Each medical professional brings specialized knowledge and skills to the table, and these skills can make significant differences in patient care.

On the other hand, interprofessional teams include more than medical professionals. It’s a collaborative approach that brings other healthcare workers, like pharmacists, physical therapists, social workers, and dietitians, into the mix. This kind of team is primarily concerned with the patients’ holistic well-being.

Here’s an example: If an interprofessional team is caring for Mr. Jasper, a diabetes patient, doctors may be concerned with his medical management.

Dietitians may offer nutritional advice on his food intake and how it affects his lifestyle. Nurses would help with his daily care, and pharmacists would help him manage his medication intake. Ultimately, these skills merge to ensure the patient gets the best care and can maintain a healthy lifestyle with their condition.

Achieving this goal may be challenging, considering these professionals come from different fields and may not understand the intricacies of their skills. How, then, can they give patients optimum care? These diverse teams learn to communicate and respect each other’s roles and expertise. They understand that they share one common goal—the patient’s well-being—and they work towards achieving that goal.

Nurses’ roles in collaborative healthcare

Nurses are the central hub of communication in collaborative practices. They connect different specialists and ensure each professional is fully informed about the patient’s status. For instance, if doctors wanted to check on Mr. John, the diabetes patient, they may ask the nurse about his health status. The pharmacist might also ask the nurse, and the same with the dietitian.

Why is the nurse at the center of healthcare provision? These professionals bring a unique perspective to the team, as they spend the most time with patients and their families. Their presence at their patients’ bedside gives them insights into their conditions, treatment responses, and potential complications.

Due to the need for effective nurses who can hold the center well, more nurses are now broadening their knowledge and skills by enrolling in advanced nursing education. Read on to discover ways advanced nursing education empowers nurses to be the best at their job.

Eights impacts of advanced nursing education on nurses

Advanced nursing education prepares nurses to excel in various healthcare settings by enhancing their competencies and abilities in several ways, including:

Specialized knowledge

Advanced nursing programs, through their in-depth and rigorous coursework, help nurses gain expertise in their chosen specialties, whether pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, mental health, or others. For instance, a geriatric nurse would have the opportunity to study the specific diseases affecting older adults and comprehend the physiological changes associated with aging.

An integral part of advanced nursing programs is the clinical practicum. Here, nurses apply the theoretical knowledge they gain from their courses to real-life situations under the guidance of seasoned clinicians.

A pediatric nurse practitioner student may care for children under the supervision of a pediatrician. It is to help them apply what they have learned in their coursework to patient care. This hands-on experience solidifies their specialized knowledge and practice skills.

However, how does specialized knowledge translate into more effective patient care? It’s simple. Specialized knowledge allows nurses to tailor care to the unique needs of specific patient populations. For example, a nurse specializing in oncology would understand the complexities of cancer treatments and their side effects better than a pediatric nursing student. Comprehensively understanding their patients can help nurses become more empathetic in their care.

Specialized knowledge also improves decision-making in healthcare. Nurses who understand a specific field can make more informed decisions. For instance, a nurse with advanced training in mental health would be adept at identifying different psychiatric conditions and therapeutic interventions.

Research skills

Advanced nursing education strengthens nurses’ research skills. These programs usually include coursework on research methodologies, statistics, and evidence-based practice. The coursework, then, equips nurses with the necessary knowledge needed to conduct their research.

For instance, an advanced nursing student may need to design a research proposal for their coursework. They must identify a research question, conduct a literature review, and select an appropriate research methodology to achieve this. Carrying out these exercises can help nurses become proficient in designing and implementing research studies.

One significant impact of advanced research skills is the ability to engage in evidence-based practices. Nurses can use available research evidence and their clinical expertise to guide decision-making in their healthcare organizations.

For example, a nurse may study the literature on pain management techniques for post-operative patients, assess the study’s qualities, and use it to determine practical approaches. They can now apply this evidence to their practice, which could lead to improved patient outcomes.

It means that nurses with research skills are better equipped to evaluate and implement findings from other research in their practice. Their ability to critically appraise research studies means they can determine the reliability and relevance of the research. This ensures their practice follows the most rigorous and current evidence.

Besides this, these research skills also help nurses contribute to the development of nursing science. Research studies can help these professionals conduct studies that address important questions in nursing and patient care. Here’s what this means: a nurse may conduct a study exploring the impact of nurse-led interventions on patient satisfaction in hospital settings. They can use their findings to enhance the understanding of practical nursing care, which could help future nurses be more effective.

Leadership skills

Advanced nursing education incorporates healthcare leadership and management courses into nursing curricula. These programs equip nurses to take on leadership roles within their teams and healthcare institutions.

Leadership training in nursing develops nurses’ strategic thinking and decision-making skills. It teaches nurses to consider the bigger picture when making decisions. It teaches them to analyze situations, consider alternatives, and make decisions for their patients, team, and organization.

Nurses also deal with resource management in leadership. They usually manage both human and material resources. Human resources may include staff scheduling, conflict resolution, and mentoring junior staff.

On the other hand, material resources primarily involve ensuring their unit has the necessary supplies and equipment to provide quality patient care. Advanced nursing programs often include modules on these topics, which prepare nurses to handle these responsibilities effectively.

Effective communication is another leadership skill nurses learn during advanced nursing education. Nurses learn to communicate clearly and effectively with stakeholders, including patients, families, and administrators. It is especially important when delivering difficult news, negotiating for resources, and advocating for their patients and staff.

Leadership courses also focus on change management. Healthcare is a dynamic field, with new technologies, procedures, and care models emerging every day. As leaders, nurses must guide their teams through these changes and ensure smooth transitions to new ways.

Advanced practice skills

Some advanced nursing education programs, such as those for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), offer an opportunity for nurses to acquire and hone advanced practice skills. One of these skills is comprehensive health assessment. Nurses learn to perform in-depth patient assessments. This includes taking detailed patient histories, conducting thorough physical examinations for patients, and identifying potential health risks.

Here’s what it means: If NPs in a primary care setting need to assess a patient with vague symptoms like weight loss and fatigue, they can use their advanced assessment skills to explore all potential causes, which could range from lifestyle factors to chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.

Their assessment skills also emphasize diagnostic reasoning. It doesn’t end with assessing the patients. They need to synthesize information from the patient’s history, physical examination, and tests to reach a diagnosis. Once they diagnose the patient, they must also manage the patient’s condition. Advanced nursing programs provide nurses with the knowledge to manage various health conditions. This knowledge entails formulating a care plan and evaluating its effectiveness.

Advanced practice nurses also prescribe medications and manage the effects of these prescriptions. Nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists have prescriptive authority in many regions. This means that they can prescribe medications to their patients without the supervision of a physician. However, this authority requires a deep understanding of pharmacology, including the mechanisms of action of different drugs and their potential side effects. They also need to critically understand drugs’ possible interaction with other medications.

Policy understanding

These programs also foster nurses’ understanding of healthcare policies and regulations. Nurses must understand the regulations surrounding healthcare to be able to navigate the healthcare system effectively. Understanding these regulations can help them advocate for policy changes to improve patient care.

Healthcare policies and regulations are often complex. They cover many areas, including patient rights, quality assurance, data protection, and licensing requirements. Advanced nursing programs have coursework that provides a broad overview of these policies and regulations.  It can include studying the impact of health insurance policies on patient access to care and understanding the legal and ethical implications of patient confidentiality regulations.

Advanced nursing education also provides nurses with practical skills to interpret and apply these policies in their daily practice. For example, a nurse who understands the intricacies of informed consent regulations can ensure that patients are adequately informed when agreeing to a specific treatment or procedure.

Besides direct patient care, nurses who understand healthcare policies and regulations can navigate the healthcare system effectively. They can work with other healthcare professionals, administrators, and policymakers to ensure their practice complies with the latest regulations. A CNS who understands data protection and privacy rules could guide their team in setting up processes to handle patient records securely and ethically.

Interprofessional collaboration

Healthcare is becoming increasingly complex, and patients need collaboration among healthcare professionals from different disciplines to get comprehensive care. Advanced nursing programs employ various methods to teach the importance of interprofessional collaboration.

For instance, they may use case-based learning, where nurses study cases alongside students from other disciplines, such as medicine, pharmacy, and social work. It allows students to learn about, from, and with each other. It’s also excellent to foster an understanding of each profession’s roles and responsibilities.

This learning process also prepares nurses to work effectively within a multidisciplinary team when they enter the workforce. They learn to appreciate different professionals’ unique skills in patient care and leverage those diverse competencies to optimize patient care. How? Imagine this scenario. A nurse managing a patient with chronic heart failure must collaborate with doctors for medical management, a physiotherapist for exercise planning, and dietitians for dietary management. Understanding and respecting each team member’s expertise can lead to a more holistic approach to patient care.

It also improves nurses’ communication skills. They learn to share their insights, listen to others, give and receive feedback, and constructively manage conflicts. These communication skills can help them align their team members with the proper patient care approach.

In addition, advanced programs teach nurses how to lead or co-lead inter professional teams. Nurses might need to coordinate care or facilitate team meetings, depending on the healthcare setting. Nurses in leadership roles introduce other professionals to the nursing perspective, which is often closely aligned with patients’ needs and experiences.

Ethical decision-making

A fundamental aspect of advanced nursing education are courses in ethics. These courses help nurses understand the core ethical principles that guide healthcare practice. These principles include autonomy, beneficence, informed consent, confidentiality, and justice.

Understanding these principles provides a foundation for ethical decision-making. However, ethical dilemmas often arise when these principles conflict. For example, a patient’s wish (autonomy) to forgo a potentially life-saving treatment due to personal beliefs may conflict with the nurse’s desire to promote the patient’s well-being (beneficence).

Advanced nursing education programs equip nurses with strategies to navigate these dilemmas. This involves identifying the ethical issue, considering the principles, exploring the possible options, and then making a decision to balance the competing principles. For example, in the situation above, the nurse would need to balance respect for the patient’s autonomy with the desire to promote the patient’s well-being.

Cultural competency

The patient population is seeing an increase in diversity. People from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs receive healthcare services, and healthcare professionals must treat them equally. Cultural competency is the set of attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors that help healthcare professionals provide practical and respectful care to individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

Advanced nursing education programs educate nurses on the intricacies of cultural competency. This education begins with self-awareness, where nurses are encouraged to reflect on their cultural identities, beliefs, biases, and prejudices, as these can impact how they perceive and interact with patients. It helps them learn to respect other people’s cultures and avoid stereotyping others.

It also teaches them about different cultures and their health beliefs, practices, and values. Here’s how it is: A nurse caring for a Native American patient may need to understand the culture’s traditional healing methods and how important family and community are to them. This can significantly shape the way they’ll administer care to this patient.

Advanced nursing programs also focus on skills that can help improve culturally competent care. This includes communication skills. Nurses might need to care for a patient who doesn’t speak the same language. Communication skills mean using interpreters to understand how the patient feels and communicate how they intend to cater to them.

Nurses may also need to learn what gestures mean in other cultures as compared to what they mean in theirs. For instance, some cultures consider direct eye contact disrespectful, while others believe it signifies honesty and engagement.

The ultimate goal of cultural competency education is to promote health equity by ensuring that all patients receive equal and respectful care, regardless of their cultural background.


Advanced nursing education offers nurses extensive skills and knowledge that can transform them into well-rounded healthcare professionals. These programs provide foundational knowledge beyond leadership, research, and cultural competency. It is a holistic approach that helps nurses deliver high-quality, patient-centered care.