7 Bad Practice Habits Nurse Practitioners Should Kick

Once you’ve become comfortable working as a nurse practitioner, or have maintained employment with the same company for a period of time, it’s easy to let little things slide. You may not notice these bad habits creeping into your workday, but your coworkers, patients, and employer certainly do. Which of these slip ups do you need to watch for in your practice? And, how can you avoid making such indiscretions your MO?

1. Charting Procrastination

Procrastinating when it comes to completing patient charts is a common mistake nurse practitioners make. The habit is a problem for a number of reasons. First, delaying completion of medical records makes it more likely you will leave out important information or make an error in the patient’s record. This increases your risk of liability and interrupts continuity of patient care. Second, procrastination sends a signal to your employer that you aren’t meeting expectations. It indicates you may not be capable of doing your job well or simply don’t care.

Trouble completing your charts on time? Check out these charting hacks for nurse practitioners.

2. Body Language + Technology

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Electronic medical records can make it difficult to interact with patients within appropriate social norms. Understanding and interest in the conversation at hand are not well conveyed with your nose in your laptop.

The fix? Sit down rather than standing, at least at the beginning of the patient visit. Shake the patient’s hand and introduce yourself. Then, explain that you may need to take a few notes on your computer as the patient talks. This way, you have taken the time to acknowledge the patient and let them know you are engaged – even if you may be tapping away on the keyboard. Don’t forget to make occasional eye contact even if you’re typing madly as the patient talks.

3. Not Knowing Where You Stand

Tracking times, numbers, and productivity metrics is a growing practice in the medical world. Even small, private clinics keep track of the number of patients NPs see and the amount of revenue individual nurse practitioners generate. While meeting metrics may not be your favorite part of practice, its essential you know where you stand. Are you the weak link among the providers in your practice?

Ask for occasional feedback and objective stats relating to your performance. If you seem to be falling short, ask how you can improve. Get concrete advice from other providers and administrators as to the steps you must take to meet expectations.

4. Tardiness/Getting Behind Schedule

Being late, whether to greet a patient or to work in general, is essentially like giving your boss, patients, and coworkers the middle finger. Sure, traffic and bad hair days happen, but chronic lateness is a major bad habit. Arriving late to work is disrespectful of others’ time and sets a negative tone for the clinic as a whole. In patient care, in-person presence is a must, so be there. If you are chronically tardy to work, leave the house 15 minutes earlier. It’s that simple. 

5. The “It’s Not My Job” Mentality

As a nurse practitioner, your job description is probably pretty straightforward. You diagnose and treat patients, document the encounter, review test results, and make a few follow-up phone calls etc. When the waiting room at the clinic is falling apart, nurses are struggling to keep up with patient volume, or the exam room trash cans are overflowing, it can be easy to fall into the “that’s not my job” mentality. The best NPs, however, go above and beyond.

Stepping outside your nurse practitioner role to help out a coworker when the need arises will not only earn you respect, but also help your practice run more smoothly. A less stressful workplace = career satisfaction.

6. Complaining

Whining, complaining, griping, and gossiping, are perhaps the worst habits you can acquire on the job. Not only are these actions unprofessional, they poison your workplace. Do you really want to work in a negative environment? As a nurse practitioner, you are a leader. Stop complaining and your coworkers will follow suit. Like you mother says, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.

7. Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene

If you’ve got bad hygiene habits, they’re even grosser at work. Who knows what’s under the fingernails of a hospital employed NP?! For the sake of keeping staph away, stop the nail biting, cuticle chewing, face touching etc. You know who you are…

What bad habits do you struggle with as a nurse practitioner?


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8 thoughts on “7 Bad Practice Habits Nurse Practitioners Should Kick”

  1. This was a helpful article–now I would love to see a short article or list of suggestions on how in primary care, how to avoid “Getting Behind Schedule” as you briefly mentioned above. I hope you have time to share such an article with us!

  2. Nurse Practitioners are not “mid level” anything. We are licensed independent practitioners and we should KICK the idea that we are anything but colleagues and part of a comprehensive health care team.

  3. The worst habit I’ve seen is when NPs think they know more than they do, Dunning-Kruger. Don’t be afraid to look up things, or ask someone with more knowledge. Just because you’re unfamiliar with something, doesn’t mean it’s trivial.

  4. I was offended by whoever authored this. I have been an NP for 30 + years. I know a lot of NPs and have managed teams of Advanced practice nurses through out the years. I have always found NPs professional, documenting appropriately and in a timely manner, continually updating their Knowlege base and utilizing resources regularly to manage and care for their patients. NP standards of care and practice is set high and we take pride in our skill sets and holistic approach to each individual patient.

    For the record, I have never met or worked with an NP that was hygienically challenged either.

  5. You nailed it. All too often I see NP’s offering advice way beyond their ‘paygrade’ and conveying that arrogance to the patient. Its no wonder so many ppl dont follow it.

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