Generally speaking, quitting a nurse practitioner position in a fit of unrelenting rage is an unprofessional way to leave a job, and it’s a common mindset that it won’t do you any favors when you start looking for your next job and need a reference. The truth of the matter is though that it’s pretty easy to stick around at a job you don’t like; perhaps you’ve tried to give notice before and were swayed into sticking around by management (like after that time your manager totally changed your schedule). Sometimes leaving without warning is necessary when there are ethical or serious legal issues going on. Whatever the case may be, rage-quitting may be the only way you’re finally able to break free.
So is there a right way to do it without burning (too many) bridges?
Take a moment to cool down
You’ve probably had every word of your dramatic exit speech memorized for some time now, but for the sake of saving your nurse practitioner reputation (the healthcare community isn’t that big), you should make every effort to refrain from letting it spew out like word vomit. Instead, remove yourself from the heated situation at hand; count to one hundred, get some fresh air, retreat to the bathroom for a few minutes and splash some water on your face, or call up a trusted confidant that you can vent to without holding back. Once you’ve given yourself some time to cool down, you can more calmly plan an exit strategy that won’t completely tarnish your reputation.
Decide if things will actually change
Healthcare is complex and bureaucratic. Frankly, it doesn’t really set you up well for what your primary goal as a nurse practitioner should be, quality patient care. It’s entirely possible that you’re frustrated with the system in which you work rather than the job itself (check out these 4 cold, hard truths about working as a NP). Decide if a new job will actually change your situation. Every clinic and hospital has some level of management frustrations and operational woes. Are the ones you’re so angry about now really that bad? Is the setup of a new workplace as far as patient care really going to be that different?
Clean out your workspace
Having to return in a few days to retrieve your personal belongings if you do quit will most certainly be awkward; as will having to ask your former colleagues if they don’t mind packing up your items and shipping them to you. Save yourself the trouble and a little face by cleaning out your workspace before you leave. Make sure you also leave any company property behind, including badges and keys or at least bring it back in a timely fashion if you forget.
Give a letter of resignation
Regardless of whether you plan to tough it out for two more weeks or make today your last day, giving an official letter of resignation is a must. Not only could a resignation letter help salvage at least one reference but providing details as to why you can’t practice there any longer could also help bring to light some of the underlying issues at the facility; and if there are serious ethical or legal issues at the culprit, this will CYA.
Whether or not you should give two weeks notice in the letter is circumstantial and there are plenty of reasons not to, like an unsafe working environment or sexual harassment. In most states, employment is at-will, which means that employers and employees can legally sever their relationship without notice or cause. Your boss also cannot force you to give a two weeks notice even if it’s in the employee handbook. That said, if you’re part of a union or have an actual employment contract that covers specific terms such as bonuses not being paid out or benefits (like unused vacation) being forfeited, you could risk losing these if you leave without providing notice or good cause, which is why it’s essential to have a letter of resignation that states your reasons for leaving when you don’t intend to come back tomorrow. Be sure to give a copy to your boss and to HR and keep it as professionally written as possible.
Keep your grievances off social media
Bad mouthing your former employer with a Facebook rant is sure to do you no favors. Not only could word easily get back to them but don’t think that recruiters and HR managers aren’t checking your social media when they’re considering you for employment.
Nurse practitioners often work under a lot of pressure but if you’re in a position that is making you completely miserable, it’s definitely time to think about your departure before you blow a gasket. If your workplace has become unsafe for providers and patients, leaving right away is certainly warranted and you shouldn’t stick around any longer – just make sure you aren’t further endangering patients by doing so. Hold your head high and try to leave with as much dignity and grace as you can. As long as you don’t make a practice out of rage-quitting every job, you’ll bounce back in a new position.