You Hate Your Nurse Practitioner Job, Now What?

I once quit a job day 1 of orientation. As a high school student I had acquired summer employment at a retail store. Upon receiving my work schedule, 4pm to 11pm, 6 days/week, I decided the position was going to seriously cramp my social life (you’d have thought I would have talked schedule before accepting the position – live and learn). So, I put in my notice. It seems that at larger retail chains, simply letting your manager know you’re leaving rather than neglecting to show up at work without warning is appreciated and not the norm. No bridges burned.

I have not quit a job prematurely since that high school summer, but I have stuck out plenty of employment situations that were less than ideal. You’ve all been there too, stuck in a job you hate whether during your nurse practitioner career or in an unrelated position. When heading out the door to work each day is accompanied by dread, weeks can seem long and unrelenting. If you’re regretting your most recent career move, or think it’s time for a change, there are a few steps you must take before making any drastic moves.

1. Identity the reason for your dissatisfaction

There are a number of reasons you might hate your nurse practitioner job. Perhaps the clinic where you work is poorly managed or the expectations placed on you are unreasonable. Maybe you work in a specialty you aren’t passionate about. You may have become disillusioned with patient care, your efforts to incite changes in health behavior among your patients falling flat. A few common reasons nurse practitioners tell me they no longer like their jobs or profession are:

  • Practice is poorly managed/administration
  • Job responsibilities or logistics don’t turn out as anticipated or discussed in the interview process (ex. call schedule, patient load, scope of practice)
  • Lack of collaboration with coworkers including physicians
  • Mistake on the NPs part in accepting the job (ex. lengthy commute, uninterested in specialty)

Pinpointing the reason for your dissatisfaction is a must to salvage your current position and/or avoid a similar situation moving forward. 

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2. Decide if the situation can be salvaged

Once you have identified the exact reason you are unhappy working as a nurse practitioner, at least for your current employer, think through possible fixes. Will a conversation with your boss regarding a change to the call schedule or a discussion about increasing your scope of practice in the clinic leave you satisfied? If so, it’s worth broaching the subject. What do you have to lose? You’re thinking about leaving, anyway. You may be able to work through this rough patch. If your beefs with your job can be fixed, making professional efforts to do so is your best course of action. Remember, change takes time so don’t expect an instant 180.

3. Evaluate how quitting will affect your career outlook

Sticking out a tough nurse practitioner employment situation may be in your best interests. Sure, you hate going to work right now. But, how will a 4 month work stint look on your resume? If you’ve had a lengthy nurse practitioner career and maintained employment for several years with a single employer, one quick exit won’t harm your job prospects. But, if you are a recent graduate, have limited work experience or a history of leaving jobs quickly, throwing in the towel makes you a less than desirable candidate for other nurse practitioner opportunities.

4. Find a new nurse practitioner job

Quitting your job before finding another is a huge mistake. Financial considerations aside, it’s much easier to find a job when you already have one. Unemployed status raises questions in prospective employer’s heads during the hiring process. You never know how long it will take to secure a new position. Don’t set yourself up for what becomes a gap in employment, something even more difficult to explain away to HR in an interview.

5. Quit your job with class

If you do decide it’s time to leave, do so gracefully. Avoid burning bridges with your current boss and coworkers regardless of the situation. Professionalism and poise are essential (this post will tell you how to quit your nurse practitioner job with class).


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