Whether you are a new nurse practitioner or just starting a new job, nurse practitioners can create work life balance and prevent nurse practitioner burnout from the start! While many nurse practitioners generally inquire about salary, benefits, etc., I strongly encourage nurse practitioners to ask about work-life balance.
As a burnout coach, I have worked with numerous burned-out nurse practitioners. I have found the #1 cause of nurse practitioner burnout is work-life imbalance. Nurse practitioners are giving more time, energy, and attention to work instead of at home. I think it is important to become aware of how healthcare institutions address work life balance and prevention of nurse practitioner burnout.
Here are a few tips for to create work life balance from the start.
Ask lots of questions during the interview process about the expectations of the job. Read the fine print in your nurse practitioner contract. If able, talk to other nurse practitioners or healthcare providers who work at that location. Becoming aware of the expectations (and addressing any that may need changed) will help you create work life balance as a nurse practitioner.
Let’s take a look at a few of the expectations to inquire about.
Understand job responsibilities.
Make sure you know the roles and tasks you will be completing as a nurse practitioner. In general, nurse practitioners assess, diagnose, and treat patients, but sometimes there are added responsibilities. Also think about what hours you will be working. Are the hours set in stone? Is the job flexible with time off? How many vacation days do nurse practitioners receive?
Will you have to take call? Being on call affects work-life balance but is something many nurse practitioners don’t think to address beforehand. Ask if you will have to take any call and what that call will look like- will you be answering patient phone calls from home? If so, how many calls should you expect in a night? Will you have to go into your work to address the patients’ issues? Will you receive extra compensation for the call?
Ask if there are any other responsibilities. Will you have to attend medical staff meetings? Are there any special training or certifications required of the nurse practitioner? Assess the expectations about roles and responsibilities of the job.
Know expected patient load.
This is an important factor of a nurse practitioner job and before you start, this expectation should be discussed. Is there a minimum number of patients you will have to see in a day? Can you set a maximum number of patients? Do you have control over your schedule? Does scheduling need to ask permission to double booked patients? Will you ever have to increase the patient load if your colleague is on vacation?
You can create work life balance by determining a reasonable patient census. Being aware of the patient load and associated tasks helps so you don’t feel overwhelmed after starting the job.
Become aware of level of support.
Healthcare institutions have different workflow and processes. Some places expect the nurse practitioner to complete other tasks such as prior authorizations or responding to patient messages. Other places have a medical assistance or nurse for the provider which frees up a lot of time.
Becoming aware of the job resources and level of support as a nurse practitioner can make a huge impact. If you want to make sure you have your own nurse or medical assistant, address this ahead of time. Even get it written in your nurse practitioner contract if needed.
A better expectation of the level of support will help a new role feel good instead of being blind sided. Having a good level of support established will help you create work life balance as a nurse practitioner.
Ask for what you want/need.
You are a nurse practitioner and you bring immense value to healthcare! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want or need! If you strongly value taking time off to attend a child’s sporting event, or if you want to go visit your grandchildren for a week, ask for this!
If you know you will need admin time, so you can catch up on charting patient encounters, ask for it! If there are certain tools to make your job easier, ask for it before you start your nurse practitioner job. Become aware of the things/people you need to create work life balance and ask for it!
Ensure it is written in your contact.
I am a strong advocate of nurse practitioners negotiating their contracts. Advanced practice registered nurse is a professional role and we should be able to stand up for what we need/want. If you are addressing these roles, responsibilities, and expectations prior to taking a job, make sure the stipulations are written in your nurse practitioner contract. If it is not written out in your nurse practitioner contract, sometimes the employer can revoke the benefits or expectations of the job. If these are clearly explained in the nurse practitioner contract, it will be easier for a lawyer to defend your case.
It is a lot easier to negotiate a contract from the beginning than it is to wish you had negotiated later! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want/need and create work life balance as a nurse practitioner!
Now is the perfect time to set boundaries! It can be a lot easier to create these limits from the beginning instead of starting the job and wishing you had. Setting boundaries can be done at any time in your career/life, but definitely needs to be put into place when starting a new job.
Do you value your family time as sacred and will not answer any work emails at home? Make that clear. Will your employer call you on your day off to pick up a shift? Don’t be a people pleaser. Is it expected of you to refill your own medications while you’re on vacation? Ask if your colleague can manage for you.
Make sure the boundaries are known by both parties involved. You can’t expect people to read your mind or know what you want. Honest and forthcoming conversations are always best. I am all about teamwork and helping each other, but not at the expense of my own mental, physical, emotional health.
It is ok to stand up for yourself as a nurse practitioner! Setting boundaries is a great way to prevent nurse practitioner burnout and create work life balance.
Job shadow before taking the job.
This is a perfect way to become familiar with the job’s roles, staff, and expectations- before you sign that contact! When you job shadow a new nurse practitioner role, you are actually getting an idea of what the job is like.
It is a great time to talk with staff and see what their concerns are about. You can see how healthcare providers and support staff interact together and be able to identify any red flags. Even if it is for a few hours, job shadowing at a potential place of employment can save you from unneeded stress.
You can also come up with ideas to negotiate your nurse practitioner contract and create work life balance.
The next time you are applying for a new job, use these tips to create work life balance and prevent nurse practitioner burnout!
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
**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!