I talked with a hospital administrator recently who honed in on something that I think goes largely ignored in the healthcare community. As nurse practitioners, we may not be burnt out, but we do grow frustrated and disillusioned by the challenges we face in our jobs. Our patients can be non-compliant, meaning our time and effort seems to be in vain. We may work with ‘difficult’ patients – drug seekers, confrontational attitudes etc. Facing these aspects of working in healthcare is enough to leave us critical of our career circumstances. 

This administrator pointed out that the very challenges we tend to complain about are often the reasons we became healthcare providers in the first place. Yes, as nurse practitioners it may be difficult for us to find patients the resources they need. Getting a patient to express adequate concern about elevated blood pressure or lipid levels may seem an insurmountable hurdle. Patients who prove more complex than planned cause us to run behind schedule meaning criticism from those who have appointments later in the day. But, didn’t we start our careers with the vision of helping others?

There are a number of reasons to become a nurse practitioner. Higher salaries, a stable job market, and the intrigue of medicine are just a few. But, an overarching theme that complements these aspects among the NPs I talk with is a desire to make a difference in other’s lives. Whether you work with the homeless population providing services patients otherwise would not have enjoyed access to, or you work in cosmetic surgery fulfilling patients’ visions of personal beauty, your goal at one time was to help people make meaningful changes. Have you lost sight of your reason?

When you begin to feel frustrated by your job or disillusioned by your patient interactions, think back. Why did you become a nurse practitioner? Chances are the very reason you chose your career was to help in exactly these situations you now find frustrating and challenging. Rediscover your reason by asking yourself “why?”. 

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