Signs you are in a toxic work environment

Signs of a toxic work environment for burned-out nurse practitioners

Working in a toxic work environment is one of the reasons nurse practitioners become burned out. It is not enjoyable to go to work every day and experience a negative environment. Many nurse practitioners dread going to work and have a hard time getting motivated to care for patients. 

Toxicity and negativity can come from multiple avenues. Maybe you experience a lack of support from administration. Maybe you hear degrading comments from nurses. Maybe there is little praise or appreciation of nurse practitioners. There are many reasons why nurse practitioners experience a toxic work environment. 

I recently asked my fellow burned-out nurse practitioners their input of red flags indicating a toxic work environment. Many nurse practitioners responded, indicating a significant toxic work environment problem.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms you might be working in a toxic work environment:

  • Lack of support from leadership or other staff
  • Degrading or disrespectful comments or actions
  • No willingness to change or see another point of view 
  • Lack of communication
  • Broken promises or staff not following through on something
  • Blaming, not taking accountability for actions
  • Gossiping about other staff or patients
  • Lack of professionalism 
  • Staff not acknowledging nurse practitioners as competent providers
  • Taking on a physician’s workload
  • Unfair/unequal treatment of staff
  • Lack of appreciation 
  • Micromanaging
  • Passive aggressive behaviors
  • Unrealistic expectations such as seeing an unfeasible amount of patients
  • Retaliation for speaking up about issues
  • Lack of boundaries between staff members
  • Lack of boundaries between patients
  • No empathy for personal lives/well being 
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Nurse practitioners feeling anxious about work
  • Stress and overwhelm impacting our mental, physical, and emotional health
  • Increasing feelings of imposter syndrome
  • Lack of confidence and questioning clinical decision making 
  • Not preventing or addressing nurse practitioner burnout

Do you experience any of these negative issues in your place of work? 

These are serious red flags of a toxic work environment that is not healthy for anyone to experience. I think it is important for nurse practitioners to take a self assessment and become aware of their own work environment. What would you add to the list?  

Click here to learn ways to manage or overcome this toxic work environment.

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, conquer 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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