Why one-third of NPs may leave healthcare and what you can do

Seconds MedscapeIn the “2022 Nurse Practitioner Burnout and Depression Report,” nearly a third of NPs are considering leaving health care, especially as more of them struggle with burnout and other work-related difficulties.

NP depletion during the pandemic

For the report, researchers surveyed 2,084 NPs in the United States between April 5 and May 20, 2022, to assess their experiences with burnout and depression.

Overall, more than 60% of NPs reported feeling burned out, and 30% said they were both burned out and depressed. Most NPs (62%) also report experiencing burnout for at least one year, with 20% reporting burnout for more than two years.

When asked about what contributes to their burnout, many NPs reported too many bureaucratic tasks (49%), insufficient compensation (43%), and lack of respect from their employees, peers, and other staff members (43% ). Other factors that contributed to burnout included working too many hours, disrespecting patients and stress from Covid-19 issues such as social distancing.

Additionally, 66% of NPs reported that burnout contributed to their depression. Other contributing factors to NP depression include being a healthcare professional, the Covid-19 pandemic, family issues and finances.

“I think the pandemic, like other issues, not only increased but intensified its grip on an already overburdened and stressed nursing workforce,” said Danielle McCamey, founder and CEO of color DNP and an assistant professor and assistant dean of clinical practice and relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

Because of the pandemic, “demands on providers at the bedside do not allow for adequate recovery and healing, which contributes to this vicious cycle of burnout that is totally unsustainable and really, really inhumane,” he said.

Overall, 31% of respondents said they were considering leaving the healthcare profession.

According to April Kapu, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitionersthe organization has been “seeing increasing numbers of physicians, particularly nurses and NPs, leaving the profession, especially if there are no options to improve the work environment, mental health support, or opportunities to make changes in his career.”

McCamey expressed similar sentiments. “It is documented that NPs are reconsidering their priorities and commitment to whether to continue pre-practice or pursue other opportunities outside of the nursing profession,” she said.

How to reduce NP exhaustion

In the report, NPs described specific efforts they made to reduce job burnout, including using meditation and other stress-reduction techniques, reducing their work hours, and ·request for personnel changes to ease their workload. Notably, 25% of NPs said they changed work settings or got a different job to reduce burnout.

In addition, NPs also listed several organizational changes that could help reduce their feelings of burnout. Of NPs surveyed, 50% said increased compensation to avoid financial stress would help reduce their feelings of burnout, and 40% said increased respect from their employers, peers and other members of staff would help them.

According to one interviewee, “[g]Public respect for the work I do from the general public and the health care system” would help reduce burnout since “[a] the doctor can go anywhere, but if I change places or roles, I start again at the bottom.”

“During the pandemic, nurses, including NPs, have experienced sustained physical exhaustion, prolonged exposure to pathogens, emotional upheaval, and grief at the loss of patients, family members, and friends to COVID-19,” Kapu said . “Working in crisis mode for months and now years has been very hard.” (Robbins, Medscape, 8/17; Carbajal, Becker Hospital Review8/18)

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