Nurse practitioner burnout caused by the modern healthcare system

Nurse practitioner burnout

There are multiple causes of nurse practitioner burnout.

And one of the causative agents is the modern healthcare system.

Healthcare has definitely changed over the years. There used to be a strong emphasis on caring for the patient. No matter the patient’s circumstances, the provider could do whatever it took to care for that patient. But times have changed and nurse practitioners are faced with many obstacles during their day to day work.

Challenges leading to nurse practitioner burnout

Nurse practitioners see the patient as a whole. We understand how the social determinants of health interfere with a treatment plan. We know the feelings associated with a chronic disease and the limitations that will prevail.

We want to spend the extra time getting to know our patients and building trust. We care for the whole patient and develop a care plan tailored to that specific patient. Nurse practitioners strive to provide exceptional patient-centered care.

It seems the modern healthcare system is everything BUT caring for the patient. Nurse practitioners are required to see more patients, in a shorter amount of time. Our administrators and clinic mangers are all about the numbers.

And because of this, nurse practitioners fall short with teaching our patients nonpharmacological treatments. There is no time (in our already jam packed schedule) for motivational interviewing and educating the patient. We know the importance of health education for patients but find it challenging to do so.

Nurse practitioners develop a treatment plans based on which intervention insurance will cover. Our time is consumed by documentation, prior authorizations, figuring out which medication the insurance company will pay for. We end up doing everything BUT caring for the patient.

In the hospital setting, we are forced to discharge patients early or NOT admit patients in the first place. So many hospitals are short staffed. We are trying to care for patients when we don’t even have time to care for ourselves. Hospitals are struggling financially because of poor or no reimbursement from health insurance companies.

These obstacles create lot of challenges for nurse practitioners. There is no longer the time or energy to treat the patient as a whole. This is beyond frustrating for APRNs. And it is creating a significant rise in nurse practitioner burnout.

Loss of connection with our patients

I think one of the reasons nurse practitioners experience burnout is because we long to have that emotional connection with our patients. We want to get to know them as a person. We want to treat the patient as a whole. We want the extra time to educate and empower our patients. We want to show empathy. We want to cry with our patients.

This lack of connection leaves us feeling helpless, unfilled, and struggling with nurse practitioner burnout.

Instead of being able to establish this connection, we quickly rush through 15 minute appointments (sometimes even double booked). We are exhausted by the end of a work day. We are not able to care for our families or even ourselves. Nurse practitioners long to provide excellent care for our patients (and want to for ourselves) but struggle to do so in this modern healthcare system.

How to overcome nurse practitioner burnout

While the modern healthcare system is not going to change anytime soon, nurse practitioners need to realize that some things are out of our control. We can however take action and stand up for our nurse practitioner practice.

We can talk with our clinic manger and ask for a lighter schedule. We can find another job with a better work-life balance. We can transition form a burned-out nurse practitioner to a creating our own practice. We can implement the self-care and put our needs first. We can learn to resolve the nurse practitioner burnout.

And while most of your day will be filled with the mundane, documentation and jumping through insurance loopholes, we can work on reconnecting with our patients. We can rediscover the reasons why we went into healthcare. We can rediscover our purpose and passion.

Work on connecting with at least one patient a day. Take some time to reflect on the actual face-to-face interactions you get to have with your patients, even if it is behind a mask. Work on really listening to what our patients are saying. This improvement in patient connection with reignite the reasons why you became a nurse practitioner.

As a nurse practitioner, you have impacted more lives than you will ever realize. And even though the modern healthcare system continues to give nurse practitioners challenges, we can learn to rise above them.

We can overcome the nurse practitioner burnout and learn to love our jobs again!

For more information on overcoming nurse practitioner burnout check out The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner’s blog page.

Also check out Burnout Resolution for Nurse Practitioners to learn how to created a better work-life balance and resolve nurse practitioner burnout.

Join The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner’s Facebook Group to gain support from equally burned-out nurse practitioners.

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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