Do you experience the #1 cause of nurse practitioner burnout?

cause of nurse practitioner burnout

While there are more than one cause of nurse practitioner burnout, this article will focus on the top causative agent for nurse practitioner burnout!

I recently wrote a blog post discussing the fact that nurse practitioners are replaceable at work and nurse practitioners are not replaceable at home. If you experience this work-life imbalance, you are at risk for burnout or are already a burned-out nurse practitioner. Am I right?

There are many different reasons why we give more to our jobs than our families- imposter syndrome, people pleasing, difficulty setting boundaries, procrastination, the modern healthcare system, unhealed trauma, long list of additional tasks (med refills, documentation review, never ending patient communications, etc.). While we can’t immediately fix all of the risk factors for burnout, we should work on the one that is causing the greatest impact of our stress and burnout.

#1 cause of nurse practitioner burnout…

I have coached multiple nurse practitioners through their burnout journey and discovered

work-life imbalance is the #1 cause of nurse practitioner burnout.

And the #1 cause of work-life imbalance as nurse practitioners is……


Because of excessive charting, nurse practitioners are:

  • Staying late at the office,
  • Bringing charts home,
  • Spending more time on work and less time on family, friends, or themselves

Lack of charting knowledge

I don’t know about you, but I learned very little about proper documentation in graduate school. I learned about SOAP notes but had very little practice charting. I did not have much feedback if I was charting correctly.

I was not aware of creating a problem focused chart note or the shortcuts to save time charting. I learned very little on proper billing and coding patient encounters. There was minimal discussion on legal issues with charting during my schooling.

After I started my first nurse practitioner job, I was overwhelmed with the charting. I learned very quickly that nurse practitioner documentation is much different from a registered nurse’s charting.

I struggled with knowing what should or should not go in a chart note. I had no idea if my documentation was accurate for coding purposes. I struggled with running on time during the work day and often stayed late to catch up.

Through my work as The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner, I realized how many APRNs struggled with the same charting issues! So many NPs are staying late at the office, bringing charts home, just trying to catch up with all the charting we do as providers!

This extra time and stress is affecting our families and creating a lack of work-life balance. It’s no wonder work-life balance is the number one cause of nurse practitioner burnout!

How I changed my charting

Over a few months, I implemented lots of time management tips and charting shortcuts. I developed templates for common types of visits I see: chronic visit, acute visit, COVID-19 visit, school physical, well child check, etc. (these templates can be accessed through The Time Management and Charting Tips Course). I created smart phrases to use instead of spending time typing the same thing over and over again.

I also focused on making my chart notes problem focused. I would audit my documentation and take out any unnecessary information. I started using phrases instead of complete sentences. I kept the History of Present Illness and Physical Exam problem focused. I stopped double charting the Review of Systems.

I learned about billing and coding and how the recent Evaluation and Management changes benefit nurse practitioners. I asked for feedback on my notes from my colleagues and coding experts.

Improve charting to overcome nurse practitioner burnout

I now have 99% of my charts signed by the end of the day. On occasion I will keep a note open overnight, but most of them are signed before I leave the office. Full disclosure, I am not seeing 30+ patients a day. I work in a critical access hospital doing primary care and covering the emergency room. However, I have improved so much of my time management and charting.

What I teach inside The Time Management and Charting Tips Course worked for me and has helped other nurse practitioners in a variety of settings. Improving your time management and charting can help you overcome the number one cause of nurse practitioner burnout!

Just think, if you can implement one thing: smart phrases, problem focused chart notes, avoiding procrastination, etc., you could save 1 minutes per patient encounter. If you are seeing 30 patients a day, you will have an extra 30 minutes available!

You could leave the office in time for your daughter’s dance recital. You will have energy to go for a walk after work. You will have time to meet friends for supper. Not to mention, you will be less stressed during the day and can finally overcome the nurse practitioner burnout.

Resources to over the #1 cause of nurse practitioner burnout

For many burned-out nurse practitioners, charting is the #1 causative agent of burnout. That is why I educate nurse practitioners about time management and charting tips. It doesn’t have to be hard. Choose one habit to work on at a time. Check out The Nurse Practitioner Charting School’s blog page for more tips!

If you need expedited help and support, check out The Time Management and Charting Tips Course. I created the course to help nurse practitioners sign their charts accurately and efficiently so you can STOP charting at home! I want to help nurse practitioners create a work-life balance and overcome the number one cause of nurse practitioner burnout!

Now is the time to take control of your life!

You don’t want to be staying late at the office or bringing charts home one year from now, so why wait to change your charting?!

Learn more at The Time Management and Charting Tips Course

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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**Full disclosure, this blog post may include affiliate links. I do receive a commission if any of the affiliate programs/services/supplies are purchased. This is at no extra cost to you but does allow me to continue to provide content as The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner! Thank you!

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