OK, I didn’t mean to make it ‘quit your job’ theme week here on the ThriveAP blog. But, somehow multiple posts I’ve worked on recently seemed to center around the topic. Just to clear the air, I am currently satisfied at work. But, there have been plenty of occasions when I’ve called my career as a nurse practitioner into question, or dealt with job specific dissatisfaction-causing issue.
If you’re unhappy in your current NP position, the first step to take is to pinpoint the ‘why’. Start by asking yourself these 8 questions.
1. Is there an issue I’ve avoided dealing with?
Many of us shy from confrontation. We let conflicts or dissatisfaction build until they come to a breaking point. Is there an issue or conflict you’ve avoided confronting in your work as a nurse practitioner? If so, airing your grievance and working through the problem just may make a difference when it comes to the enjoyment of your nurse practitioner career.
2. Are my efforts going unrecognized?
Working as a nurse practitioner is tough. We may have challenging patients or packed schedules that keep us running all day long. When you’re working hard, it’s nice to feel appreciated once in a while. If your company culture isn’t one that routinely recognizes or rewards hard work, ask your boss to set up regular feedback sessions. This will help make sure your efforts are prioritized effectively, and give a chance for higher ups to give you props.
In some settings, nurse practitioners work rigorous schedules. As an NP you may work nights, weekends, holidays or long stretches of shifts. When your schedule becomes demanding, it’s easy to confuse dissatisfaction with your schedule (or just plain fatigue!) with unhappiness in your job. If you pinpoint your schedule as the ultimate cause of your dissatisfaction, try experimenting with alternate scheduling. Or, talk with your boss to see if you can work out something more sustainable.
4. What does the culture of my organization look like?
Every company, and even healthcare facility and department, has it’s own vibe. Some companies are laid back, others are more serious workplaces. Other companies foster an environment of warmth and friendliness, while yet others are more formal. In some cases, workplace cultures can even turn negative with tones of complaining, competition or gossip as the name of the game. Workplace culture has a serious impact on day-to-day job satisfaction. How does the actual vibe of your workplace match up with your preferred work style and employment relationships? If you notice a disconnect, take steps to change your surroundings. If the culture is unlikely to change in your practice, it may be time to identify another employer that’s a better fit.
5. Did I expect to jump right in?
Working as a nurse practitioner takes a lot of skill. Not only do you need to understand the systems and processes used in your practice, you also require the clinical skill set to see patients. Some employers are better at recognizing the skill level of nurse practitioners and helping fill any gaps left in training than others. A lack of support and the feeling that you aren’t proficient in your position as an NP can certainly lead to job dissatisfaction. If this is the reason for your discontent, ask for help and work with your employer to draft a plan to get you there.
6. Am I bored?
On the other hand, once you have a significant amount of experience working as a nurse practitioner, your job can become routine. Without the occasional challenge or requirement for furthering your skill set, it’s easy to grow tired of your job. Boredom breeds anger and annoyance that you’re dealing with the same thing over and over again. If this is the case for you, turn boredom into accountability. Voice the need for enhancing your nurse practitioner skills or for new challenges in your work environment. This way your employer knows you’re in the market for fresh responsibilities.
7. How’s my personal life?
While our lives seem compartmentalized – our professional inside the hospital or clinic walls and our personal outside of the workplace, in reality the two are closely linked. If things aren’t going well for you at home, chances are you’re bringing fatigue or a negative attitude with you to work. Look at external reasons for your dissatisfaction to see if there may be some spillover into your work life.
8. Am I concerned about the future of my company?
Stability in an organization is reassuring. If your company is always switching things up, the unpredictability can be unsettling. Maybe your employer is messing with scheduling, leaving you constantly guessing when you work next. Perhaps your company is experiencing financial difficulties and you aren’t sure how long they’ll be afloat. Whatever the reason, seek answers to your questions and voice your concerns if the stability is something that can be controlled.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to create your own job satisfaction. External factors certainly help make this easier, but your attitude and actions are a choice. By pinpointing the reason you’re unhappy in your work as a nurse practitioner, you can take steps to solving the problem ad once again find your love for the profession.
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