3 steps to resolve nurse practitioner burnout

Resolve nurse practitioner burnout

With an increase of acute illnesses (influenza, COVID-19, RSV, etc.) and decrease of available resources (i.e. lack of hospital beds, commonly prescribed medications, short staffed clinics, etc.), I have discovered more and more nurse practitioners are burned out and ready to leave healthcare.

In The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner’s blog articles, I will offer you support and advice for overcoming nurse practitioner burnout. We will take a look at the actual framework I used to overcome burnout, boundary setting, trauma experienced by NPs, necessary mindset shifts (and much more) to resolve nurse practitioner burnout!

Nurse practitioner burnout is becoming a pandemic of its own.

The current roles and responsibilities of nurse practitioners continues to grow as the support diminishes. There is a push to see more patients, sicker patients in a shorter amount of time.

Many nurse practitioner’s days consist of patients who are scheduled at 10-15 minute increments and even double booked on top of that. Not only do nurse practitioners partake in assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients, APRNs also have to document our findings. Then add on medication refills, analyzing diagnostic data, reviewing past medical records, and the never-ending patient messages.

Many clinics, hospitals, and healthcare institutions are trying to function while short staffed. There is a lack of medical assistants (MAs), nurses, even front office staff. This creates added roles that many nurse practitioners have to take on themselves. Many nurse practitioners are required to check in their own patients, draw labs or run point of care testing, and respond to patient phone calls. A lot of nurse practitioners schedule referrals for patients or complete prior auths through the patient’s insurance. These tasks could be completed by support staff. Instead, nurse practitioners sacrifice their own time and energy to complete these duties.

It’s no wonder nurse practitioners are burned-out and ready to leave healthcare!

The modern/current healthcare system creates a lot of challenges for nurse practitioners. Between the push to see more patients, adhering to increasingly strict insurance rules, and decreasing attention to work-life balance, nurse practitioners are struggling. While nurse practitioners cannot change this entire healthcare system, we can choose to improve what we can control. APRNs can resolve nurse practitioner burnout!

Healthcare burnout can look differently for nurse practitioners. ( See a list of signs and symptoms of nurse practitioner burnout ). For me, I struggled with  compassion fatigue . I became mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted. I did not show up and care for my patients the way I wanted. I felt detached from my work, my family, and even myself. I contemplated leaving healthcare all together.

Once I finally realized  I was burned-out from nursing , I took the necessary steps to resolve that burnout. My burnout journey did not happen overnight. It took several months to implement the things I needed to overcome burnout. Eventually, I overcame the burnout and chose to stay in healthcare.

Several years later, I began to realize how many of my nurse practitioner colleagues were struggling with burnout. I saw the signs and symptoms of nurse practitioner, many of which I had struggled with. I recognized the negative impacts on nurse practitioner’s personal lives. I saw the  work-life imbalance , the lack of boundaries, the  mom guilt  so many of us struggled with.

The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner

I created  The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner  to help overwhelmed NPs establish a better work-life balance and resolve nurse practitioner burnout. I talked with and coached so many nurse practitioners who were ready to leave healthcare. I understood their struggles and listened to them. I have made it my mission to help nurse practitioners who are struggling with burnout.

And let me tell you, there is no magic pill. There is no switch to flip. It takes a lot of self reflection and personal work to overcome the burnout. Sure, nurse practitioners could quit the job that is burning them out or leave healthcare altogether. But, there is always a risk of becoming burned out again. Whether it is in a different nurse practitioner role or job in a different industry, there is a possibility of becoming mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted, again.

That is why I encourage nurse practitioners to complete the framework and steps I used (and have helped countless other NPs) to actually resolve nurse practitioner burnout.

Here is the framework to resolve nurse practitioner burnout.

Identify causative agents.

Nurse practitioners have to know where they are before making any kind of changes. When a patient comes in with a fever, nurse practitioners ask a review of systems, complete a physical assessment, and utilize their clinical decision making to determine the origin and treatment of that fever.

The first step to resolve nurse practitioner burnout is being aware of our current lives. We need to determine what is causing our burnout. We need to reflect on our professional and personal struggles. We need to determine the contributing factors to work-life imbalance.

Nurse practitioners need to reflect on their current life as the first step to resolve nurse practitioner burnout.

Actually do the self-care.

As cliché as it sounds, self-care is so important for nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners spend their work day taking care of other people. We constantly put others’ needs in front of our own. Nurse practitioners also have personal obligations, (i.e. families, friends, pets, etc.) that require our time and attention.

When we constantly empty our cup, and don’t take the time to refill it, we have nothing else to give. Taking care of everyone but ourselves causes a high risk for nurse practitioner burnout.

Self-care is a form of self-love that helps us to take care of our  mental, physical, and emotional health. 

Self-care does not have to be daily exercise and sleeping 8 hours a night (although nurse practitioners know the importance of these practices)! Self-care should include the activities that bring you joy. These activities are specific to each nurse practitioner as our lives are all different.

If going out to eat with a group of friends brings you joy, then do it! If sitting on the couch and binge watching Netflix fills your cup, then do it! If volunteering to coach your child’s basketball team gives you energy, then do it! I recommend consistent (whether daily or weekly) self-care activities to bring you fulfillment.

Implementing self-care will help you to resolve nurse practitioner burnout.

Find support through your burnout journey.

Feeling alone in nurse practitioner burnout can be very common. The feelings of healthcare burnout is not something healthcare providers openly discuss. When I was struggling with burnout, I did not know where to turn. I did not know if my coworkers were also struggling because I did not talk about my burnout.

Opening up and finding support to help resolve nurse practitioner burnout can make a tremendous impact. If you work in a  toxic-work environment  and do not have supportive coworkers, look for external support. Start the hard discussions with your coworkers, colleagues, and bosses about healthcare burnout.

Join  The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner’s Facebook Group  to talk with equally burned-out nurse practitioners. Schedule a  coaching call with The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner  to get individualized support.

Or join  Burnout Resolution for Nurse Practitioners  online course to help you overcome the burnout.

These are just a few ways NPs can resolve nurse practitioner burnout. Overcoming nurse practitioner burnout is not easy. It will take time and energy. It will take work.

But resolving nurse practitioner burnout is soooo worth it!

Join  Burnout Resolution for Nurse Practitioners  for the framework and mindset shifts to empower you create a better work-life balance and resolve the burnout.

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 www.burnedoutnp.com

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

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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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