Can quitting your nurse practitioner job help overcome burnout?

Quitting your nurse practitioner job

Through my work, coaching burned-out nurse practitioners, I have heard many comments such as “My job is terrible and the only way to overcome burnout is to quit my job.”

While quitting your nurse practitioner job can feel like the only way out of burnout, I typically don’t recommend leaving right away. I feel there are a few things nurse practitioners need to do prior to quitting.

It is true, some jobs are better than others. I know it is hard to believe, but there are some nurse practitioner jobs that offer supportive management, decent work-life balance, and a positive work environment. There are healthcare institutions that care more about their employees (nurse practitioners) than they care about the “numbers” (i.e. seeing more and more patients).

While these wonderful nurse practitioners jobs are out there (somewhere), I do not recommend immediately quitting your nurse practitioner job in search of this “dream job.” Think about leaving one clinic/hospital, only to get into a new role that is worse than before.

Here are 4 steps you should take when determining if quitting your nurse practitioner job can help resolve nurse practitioner job.

1. Discover your own burnout triggers.

Nurse practitioners have to become aware of what is causing the burnout. Are you struggling with second-victim syndrome and past traumatic experiences in healthcare? Do you need to work on changing your charting so that you can STOP charting at home? Do you need to work on setting boundaries and not taking on any more work? Do you need to stop being a people pleaser? Do you need to focus on your own selfcare, health, and wellness?

Each one of us has a different nurse practitioner story. We have different interests and experiences. We have different personal lives. Our burnout is not caused by the same factors. Our signs and symptoms of burnout are different. Take some time to determine what is contributing to your burnout and if quitting your nurse practitioner job is right for you.

2. Attempt to change those causes of burnout.

Once we have identified what is causing our nurse practitioner burnout, we need to make the necessary habit changes to overcome. Overcoming burnout for me was going through a personal development journey. I had to take the steps to shift my mindset. I had to look at the positives of life and create a gratitude list every morning. I had to work on my own self-confidence and determine who I am as a person. I had to become aware of what I truly wanted in life, set the goals, and create the action steps to get me there.

Overcoming burnout may be different for you and quitting your nurse practitioner job may not be the first step. Maybe you need to work on your charting so that you can create a better work-life balance. Maybe you should work on finishing a chart note right after the patient encounter. Maybe you need to focus on your own physical, mental, and emotional health. Maybe you need to ask for help at home or work on managing the mom guilt.

Take the small steps necessary to overcome nurse practitioner burnout. Commit to the habit changes, stick with it, and conquer the burnout! Remember, you are in control of your life!

3. Have the hard discussions.

We may think that many of the causes of nurse practitioner burnout are created by the healthcare system. We are told to see more patient, sicker patients. We feel like management does not care how many unpaid hours we are working, just trying to catch up. As previously mentioned, some jobs are better than others.

Before nurse practitioners play the blame game, we have to have the hard talks with our boss. You have to be honest about your feelings of exhaustion and burnout. Your clinic manager may not be aware of your struggles. Other providers in your practice may also be silently struggling with burnout.

I encourage nurse practitioner to have the hard, honest conversations. Ask your administrator for what you need. Offer solutions and ideas to improve work-life balance for the entire institution. It is very easy to blame others for feeling burned out. However, nurse practitioners have to take some accountability and be honest about your burnout story. Determine if quitting your nurse practitioner job will actually resolve the nurse practitioner burnout.

4. Determine if quitting your nurse practitioner job is best.

After identifying causes of burnout, attempting to make changes, and having the hard discussions, it is time to do what is best for Y.O.U. No job is more important than your own mental, physical, emotional health. Nurse practitioners cannot pour from an empty cup and if they are already beyond empty.

Become super honest with yourself about what you want in life. Determine if your current nurse practitioner job will get you to the end goal. Do what is best for you and your family.

One of my favorite quotes is as follows, “You are replaceable at work, you are not replaceable at home.” Remember what is truly important to you in life. There is no shame in leaving a job that caused your nurse practitioner burnout.

Determining if you should quitting your nurse practitioner job will overcome burnout is not an easy decision. It takes time and a lot of honest reflection. As The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner, I am not able to give you an easy “yes” or “no.” You are the only one that can make that decision for yourself. I hope you use these four steps to help with your choice.

Click here for more thoughts on quitting the nurse practitioner job that is burning you out.

Erica D the NP is a family nurse practitioner and burnout coach. Erica created The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner to help overwhelmed APRNs create work-life balance, overcome nurse practitioner burnout, and advocate for themselves. The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner offers online courses, coaching, and support. Learn more at

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

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