Top 5 Causes of Nurse Practitioner Burnout

Yesterday I discussed worn out, stressed out, and burnt out nurse practitioners. Working in healthcare is demanding on many levels from which nurse practitioners are not immune. As with any problem, identifying the cause of the issue is the first step to solving the problem. If you find yourself in the red on the stressed out, burnt out spectrum, the following factors may be contributing to your career dissatisfaction. 

1. High Level of Responsibility, Limited Control of Outcome

As nurse practitioners, we have a high level of responsibility. We may work with critically ill patients. Those of us working in settings treating patients of lower acuity still bear this burden of responsibility. We treat sick and injured people whose physical and emotional needs must be met. Not only must we attempt to meet these needs, we operate with limited time and resources for doing so. Working in such a setting leaves nurse practitioners emotionally exhausted and primed for burnout. 

2. Pressure to Meet Metrics

Medical providers are the essence of healthcare. Without physicians, NPs, and PAs, patient care can't happen. And, patient encounters spell revenue for our practices. As a result, nurse practitioners are placed under immense pressure to perform efficiently. Our schedules are overbooked. Administrators encourage shorter and shorter patient encounters. Constant pressure to meet metrics wears on nurse practitioners physically and emotionally. 

3. The System is Stacked Against Us

Our healthcare system is rife with rules and regulations. Insurance companies, government agencies, and lawmakers are the decision-makers in healthcare. These entities, however, may lack understanding about what your job actually looks like. Shifting political culture also breeds uncertainty about the future of your nurse practitioner career contributing to stress and burnout. 

4. Malpractice Liability

Whether you ascribe to the philosophy of defensive medicine or not, legal liability weighs on the minds of nurse practitioners. An unintended consequence of treatment or an innocent mistake could have significant legal implications for an NP. Seeing each patient as a potential threat casts a negative cloud over our workdays setting the stage for career dissatisfaction. 

5. The Mundane

As nurse practitioners we may practice in a variety of specialties and settings, but overall our jobs remain the same over the course of our careers. We diagnose and treat patients day after day. In many clinical settings, there is little room for upward mobility for NPs seeking a change. As your job becomes less challenging and stimulating, boredom sets in and passion is lost. 

The good news? Burnout is a preventable challenge for nurse practitioners. If you feel yourself slipping into a negative career tailspin, identify the reason for your frustration. What can you do to fix the issue? Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective and a few small changes to prevent professional burnout from sinking in. 

Burnt out? What do you think is to blame?

 

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