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5 causes of nurse practitioner burnout

Nurse practitioner burnout is at an all time high. Nurse practitioners (and healthcare providers in general) are struggling with burnout and many have already left healthcare. We need to address the issue of healthcare burnout before there are no providers left to care for these patients! Through my work as The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner, I have discovered multiple causes of nurse practitioner burnout. It is important to know the causes of nurse practitioner burnout so we can better focus on that causative agent. Discovering the true source is something nurse practitioners are familiar with. For example, when a patient comes in to be seen for a fever, we evaluate and ask more questions. Once we know the source of the fever, we can choose the correct medication or treatment plan for the patient. Same thing is true for the causes of nurse practitioner burnout. When we discover the true source of the burnout, it is easier to treat.

Causes of nurse practitioner burnout

After overcoming healthcare burnout myself, I established The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner to help overwhelmed NPs create a better work-life balance and overcome nurse practitioner burnout. I have talked with dozens of nurse practitioners and have noticed some common causes of nurse practitioner burnout.

Here are the top 5 causes of nurse practitioner burnout.

Work-life imbalance.

Through my work as The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner, lack of work-life balance has been the #1 cause of nurse practitioner burnout. So many nurse practitioners are spending more time at work and less time with their families.

The number one source of work-life imbalance I have seen is CHARTING! So many nurse practitioners are staying late at the office or bringing charts home, disrupting their personal lives. Nurse practitioners are working more than 40 hours a week just trying to catch up with chart notes.

**If you are a nurse practitioner struggling with lack of work-life balance due to charting, check out The Nurse Practitioner Charting School– the one stop for all documentation resources created specifically for nurse practitioners.

Toxic work environment.

Working in a toxic work environment can create feelings of resentment and negativity leading to nurse practitioner burnout. If you do not feel appreciated or even safe in the practice setting, this may be due to a toxic work environment.

This type of negative workplace can create unnecessary challenges when all NPs want to do is care for their patients. Nurse practitioners need to be aware of the signs of a toxic work environment. Here are some tips to surviving a toxic work environment so it does not become one of the causes of nurse practitioner burnout.

Lack of self-care.

Self-care is so important to overcome the causes of nurse practitioner burnout. As nurse practitioners, our work day is filled with so much information and task completion that we end up with decision fatigue and mental exhaustion. As NPs, we have very important jobs and we need to do our best for these patients. But the work as a nurse practitioner wears on our mental, physical, and emotional health. It is important to rest and recharge after a busy workday. Our bodies and minds need to rest.

The best way to implement self-care is to prioritize it into our daily routines. It does not have to be exercising or massages everyday. Self-care can look like going out to supper with friends, going for a quiet walk in the park, or even sitting on the couch binge watching the latest Netflix series.

Nurse practitioners should choose activities that fuel them up! They should choose what self-care activity fills up their cup so that they can care for others. Check out Chart Lyfe resources to find more ways healthcare providers can care for themselves!

Modern healthcare system.

Healthcare has changed in many ways for healthcare providers. Nurse practitioners who used to be able to care for the patient as a whole, are now facing new challenges. There is push to see more patients, sicker patients at 15 minute appointments (sometimes even double booked!).

Insurance companies dictate what diagnostic test we are able to order. Insurance determines what medication is “preferred” and yet it is still too expensive for our patients. Healthcare providers spend a lot of time completing prior auths and paperwork just to get care that the patient needs.

Not to mention, 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. Some 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 have a lack of work-life balance and struggle with the causes of nurse practitioner burnout.

Unhealthy boundaries.

A boundary is defined as a limit or rule with clear expectations. A boundary sets assumptions and preconceived notions. Setting healthy boundaries helps to protect a nurse practitioner’s mental, physical, and emotional health. A boundary protects a nurse practitioner’s time and energy.

When a person does not establish boundaries, they do not put their needs first. Nurse practitioners are prone to unhealthy boundaries. Nurse practitioners constantly put other people’s needs first. We end up empty. Our cups are not filled. We are not able to pour our support to others. Unhealthy boundaries is one of the causes of nurse practitioner burnout.

Overcome nurse practitioner burnout

Take some time and reflect on these causes of nurse practitioner burnout. Which source of burnout is negatively impacting your life the most? Which causative agent should you focus on first? What small changes or healthy habits can you create to overcome the burnout? How can you make the biggest impact to overcome nurse practitioner burnout?

As The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner, I offer multiple resources for resolving nurse practitioner burnout. I overcame healthcare burnout myself and now help other NPs do the same!

Check out The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner blog page. Also check out Burnout Resolution for Nurse Practitioners– this online, self-study course will help you create a better work-life balance and overcome nurse practitioner burnout.

I also offer resources through The Nurse Practitioner Charting School. I offer multiple tips and tricks through The NP Charting School’s blog page. I also offer access to over 100 smart phrases or need help through the Time Management and Charting Tips Course.

I encourage NPs to become aware of the causes of nurse practitioner burnout so they can better resolve the burnout and create a better work-life balance. You don’t have to experience the burnout alone! Check out the Chart Lyfe resources for additional support!

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