While there are many ways to overcome nurse practitioner burnout, taking time off work is an important part of conquering the burnout! I know it can feel hard to leave your coworkers, colleagues, patients high and dry for a week, or even a day. But, it is so important we allow ourselves time to rest and recharge!
Nurse practitioners have very mentally, physically, and emotionally demanding jobs. We are required to be on our toes and make smart decisions at all times. However, most nurse practitioners get bogged down with decision fatigue, stress of having a waiting room full of patients, and addressing all of the other tasks we are required to do. Nurse practitioners do not allow themselves enough time to recover. Let alone rest and recharge. Here are a few tips to help us take time off from work.
1. Give yourself permission.
The first thing we need to do is allow ourselves the time to actually rest. We need to give ourselves permission to take time off work. Nurse practitioners should become aware of their overall health and know when it’s time to rest. Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself! Your clinic, co-workers, colleagues will be fine.
Think about if you didn’t take time off to recharge. You will end up burned-out and quitting your job anyways, so now is the time to prevent nurse practitioner burnout.
Look at all the other careers that take time off. Professional athletes have an off season. These athletes back down on their training or take time off completely. Or think about singers or entertainers, they do not perform and hold concerts all year round. They give themselves time to rest and recover. Even when we were in nursing school, most often, we had winter and summer break. We were able to relax and refocus before the next semester began.
Although healthcare is required to work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, we should have some days off which allow us a break from work and give us time to rest. We need to give ourselves permission to take those vacation days!
2. Take a day for yourself.
While I wish nurse practitioners could take an extended time (a full month) off from work, it is not always feasible. I think many would benefit from at least one day off every month. By taking a day off, we can give ourselves time to feel rejuvenated.
Use the day to get a massage. Meet up with friends. Take the kids on an adventure. Lay on the couch and do nothing! Whatever self-care looks like for you.
I have seen multiple APRNs take two-four weeks off from work because they reached the burnout point. This is a great idea if you are completely exhausted. Instead of getting to that point, we can try to prevent burnout by taking days to rest and recharge more frequently.
Our lives are incredibly busy. It is important to remember to slow down and care for ourselves. Schedule time off for yourself (guilt free!!)- whether it’s a week at a time or even a day a month.
3. Leave work at work.
Nurse practitioners should work on setting boundaries and creating a better work-life balance. Taking a day or a week off will not allow us to fully recharge if we continuously look at emails, patient messages, medication refills, etc. We have to focus on leaving work at work, so that we can dedicate our full time and attention to our friends, our families, ourselves.
Determine one boundary you need to set. Look at the negative implications if you don’t set the limit. Identify what the new boundary should be and set it! Avoid checking your phone or work emails. Say ‘no’ when your clinic manager asks you to take on another project. Work on changing your charting so you can STOP charting at home! Implement smart phrases into your electronic medical record to save time charting (here is a Jumpstart List of Smart Phrases for Nurse Practitioners). Make it a priority to spend more time with your family. Nurse practitioners can overcome burnout by creating a better work-life balance.
It is difficult to take time away from work when it feels like we will be more behind if we do. But this is how burnout happens. Nurse practitioner burnout is caused by the slow, progressing feelings of stress, resentment, and no sign of improvement. Nurse practitioners should make it a priority to rest and recharge by giving ourselves permission, taking days off for ourselves, and setting the necessary boundaries.
For time management and charting tips, check out The Nurse Practitioner Charting School– The one stop for all documentation resources created specifically for nurse practitioners. Learn more at www.npchartingschool.com