Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the year 2020, healthcare professionals have experienced stress both personally and collectively. To combat the pandemic and other medical needs, medical professionals, nurse practitioners (NPs), emergency response specialists, and hospital employees work as much as they are needed. Healthcare professionals may feel the full weight of the day’s stresses, including trauma, grief, and death.
Burnout is a perilous place people enter when it gets to be too much to manage. The state of NP burnout is one of exhaustion, frustration and tension, and yet many remain silent. Many of the NPs you pass in the corridors feel worn out, stressed out, unheard, and may show signs of compassion fatigue. When the issue is not addressed and resolved, patient care may suffer, and staff turnover may rise.
Keep reading to learn more about nurse practitioner burnout including the causes and symptoms, as well as how to prevent it.
What Is Nurse Practitioner Burnout?
To fully understand ways to prevent NP burnout, we must first discuss what burnout is. Burnout is fundamentally a particular type of work-related stress. Burnout among NPs is a unique form of stress associated with the medical profession. Extreme physical and emotional exhaustion caused by this sort of stress affects your capacity to carry out daily activities and perform at work.
Even though the Mayo Clinic states that burnout is not a medical diagnosis, some nations recognize it as such. Even when it isn’t a specific clinical diagnosis, NPs should recognize the presence of burnout syndrome and offer interventions to assist and manage it within their line of work.
In its worldwide categorization of disorders, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally recognizes burnout as an occupational phenomenon. Burnout is “a condition viewed as emerging from continuous working stress that has not been properly handled”. The three key elements in NP burnout are:
- Exhaustion—mental, physical, or emotional
- Reduced effectiveness in one’s career
- Negative thoughts about one’s job
Causes of Nurse Practitioner Burnout
Burnout among NPs can result from a range of circumstances, which has an impact on their productivity.
NPs may put in 12-hour shifts which have been linked to burnout, stress, exhaustion, and subpar performance. Healthcare providers may not have a defined work schedule depending on the company. The hours worked, however, may not quite correspond to the allocated hours. A NP may arrive early, stay late, or work through lunch, reducing their capacity to take care of themselves.
- Inadequate Control of Daily Pace
NPs have little to no influence over their patient loads and acuities whether they are working in hospitals or outpatient settings. Hospital or urgent care providers have little control over who enters and is admitted to their services. Though it often varies during the day, outpatient clinicians may have a daily itinerary of the patients they anticipate seeing that day.
There is always a predicted number of patients that a NP will see throughout a shift regardless of the employer. The amount of time allocated for patient treatment sometimes is insufficient to fully assess and address all of the patient’s problems.
In the end, this may lead to more follow-up visits with further clogging an already jam-packed calendar. In contrast, a NP might make an effort to address all of the patient’s issues during a single visit. This method frequently results in delays in the treatment of other patients or in booked visits.
- Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Documentation
For billing, legal responsibility, and care continuity, EHRs are a crucial asset. The second most crucial task for clinicians after providing patient care is documentation. This calls for everything to be finished quickly, correctly, and concisely. Finding the time to finish this task without taking pauses in between patients, however, is the main issue for NPs.
NPs who work in poorly run healthcare facilities may feel as though their views aren’t being heard, which can result in unfavorable and disengaged attitudes toward their employment. NPs may assume too many tasks as a result of ineffective leadership which can lead to burnout and fatigue.
Especially after 12-hour shifts, caring for ill patients every day can be taxing. Insufficient tools and support for nurses to manage their emotions can lead to burnout.
Common Symptoms of Nurse Practitioner Burnout
The term “compassion fatigue” is another name for burnout. There are occasions when providing patient care might result in burnout symptoms, particularly when NPs aren’t getting the outcomes they’d hoped or expected. Burnout in nurses might also be brought on by other factors. Symptoms of NP burnout include, but are not restricted to:
- Physical symptoms such as a change in appetite, nausea, or headaches
- Lack of work fulfillment
- Loss of motivation to go to or do work
- Lack of energy that affects productivity at work
- Irritability with coworkers and patients
- A change in sleep patterns
- Concentration issues
How to Prevent Nurse Practitioner Burnout
It is hard to completely eliminate stress from the NP profession. Given the importance of patient health monitoring, stress is something that “comes with the job”. Here is a mix of stress-reduction techniques and organizational transformation for preventing nurse burnout.
Identify and Avoid Toxic Work Environments
Having a hostile workplace is one of the variables that cause NP burnout. This entails working with people and groups that not only put other people’s needs before yours, but who also could exploit you or abuse your emotions. Any workplace may have a toxic working environment. You may recognize these scenarios and help yourself avoid them by being self-reflective and paying attention to how your coworkers and superiors react when you ask them for assistance or support during stressful times. Ask a fellow NP employed at the clinic if you may speak with them during your job interview to learn more about their experiences.
Talk to Other Nurse Practitioners
Do you collaborate with other NPs? Do you socialize with other NPs outside of work? Speak with them. Stress and burnout among NPs are both very frequent. You may handle stress by talking to people and realizing that you’re not alone. This might make you feel supported. You may also get knowledge from others about how they have handled stress, avoided burnout, and what they wish they had done better by making these relationships.
When you are stuck inside all day, some sunshine and fresh air may work wonders. Choose a moment each day when you can go outside and simply be. This might be going for a stroll with a friend or setting aside time to practice mindfulness and self-love.
Connect with your colleagues
In addition to providing you with a support system, having strong relationships at work may make you look forward to going to work each day. Try establishing friendships with your coworkers outside of the office if it feels appropriate in the context of your work environment. These connections between the two worlds of work and life might occasionally reduce the tension at the office.
How often have you been told to strive for eight hours of sleep each night? I’m sure there are millions. However, the study backs it up. Your brain needs time to rest in order to replenish all the hard work it did while you worked as a NP all day. If you don’t get enough sleep or don’t get good sleep, this doesn’t happen.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Some of us enjoy going out with friends or having a drink at the end of the day. That’s great, and there is unquestionably a place and a time for this. However, alcohol might not be your friend if you’re under pressure. Since you are a NP, you are aware that excessive drinking only serves to worsen issues rather than solve them.
Get Professional Help
The majority of NP time is spent caring for patients, yet we also require care. Consider seeking professional assistance, such as mental health therapy or counseling, if you feel that you are becoming overly stressed out and are struggling to manage the demands of your job. This can not only provide you a way to let some of the tension you’ve been feeling out, but it can also give you powerful skills for lowering stress and avoiding burnout.
Keeping a Work-Life Balance
People lose sight of maintaining a work-life balance which is one of the primary causes of burnout at work. There is a difference between working hard and prioritizing your career over your other responsibilities. It’s not just entertaining, but it’s good to have time and energy (both physically and psychologically) for things and people outside of work. We require space to unwind and relish life. Engaging in worthwhile things by ourselves or with the people we care about is one method we do.
Knowing Your Role Expectations
The first step towards exceeding your employer’s expectations is understanding what is expected of you. You run the danger of being too stressed out when you feel like you are not living up to expectations if you are unsure of what is expected of you, or if you are unsure of how independently you can practice in your present clinical environment.
Exercise is a fantastic technique to reduce stress, and undoubtedly you’ve heard this before. Establishing a regular workout routine before your job gets very demanding will help you manage your stress and prevent it from building up. Remember that burnout occurs when your level of work-related stress rises to the point where it becomes overwhelming and exhausting.
The practice of mindfulness entails paying attention to your breathing and being in the now. You can benefit physically and mentally by practicing mindfulness which can also help you reduce stress. You don’t need to pay for a costly or time-consuming course because there are various applications and websites available that can help you study and practice for free or minimal costs.
How you feel is influenced by what you put into your body. You can have the energy you require to work as an NP during the day by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. You may avoid feeling ill by avoiding consuming large amounts of harmful substances (such as sugar, coffee, and alcohol).
In order to adequately care for others while working long hours as a NP, it is important to put one’s own needs first. Keep in mind that if you experience burnout, you won’t be able to care for your patients, your coworkers, or yourself. Make time each day to prioritize your health and let that include happy-making activities that are unrelated to work.
Identify and Utilizing Your Support Systems
It’s crucial to know who to turn to in difficult situations both within and outside of the workplace. You should aim to use assistance programs before you burn out. Having coworkers, managers, family, and friends who are willing to listen, give counsel, and share the burden when things get too much can help prevent NP burnout.
Look For a New Job
Last, but not least, if you have attempted the aforementioned preventative methods for NP burnout, and you don’t think they are effective, it may be time to search for new employment. If your present place of employment is no longer healthy for you, don’t be afraid to go elsewhere because the need for NPs is great and only predicted to increase.
In a nutshell, burnout occurs when NPs endure excessive and uncontrolled stress at work to the point of extreme physical and mental fatigue which prevents them from performing well. Burnout may happen to anyone in any career sector. Being a NP can have demanding physical, mental, and emotional requirements that might foster stress. Try these 15 easy strategies to effectively prevent NP burnout if you are feeling stressed out at work. Ultimately, your job should be a source of satisfaction and delight knowing you are helping others.
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