Why I Hated My First NP Job

career advice Jan 28, 2024

As a new grad NP back in 2016, I had no idea what to look for in my first NP job. I was excited that I got to negotiate a high starting salary with benefits.

But what I didn’t know was that the support for me as a new grad was … to put it nicely… non-existent.

The “training period” quickly went out the window as clinic days were filled with walk-ins, late and cranky patients, and an unbelievable amount of admin work.

It wasn’t so much that I was struggling with my clinical skills (assessments, differentials, and patient education) - I was more struggling with managing my time efficiently with patient visits, charting my visits, coding correctly, and setting my boundaries.

I was struggling…to the point that my shoulders took a permanent place by my ears every time my day started. I began to have chest pains, anxiety, and even thought I was having gallstones! I gained 10 lbs. from eating scraps (Kit Kat bars, gummy bears, etc.) since I felt like I didn’t have time for a proper lunch.

I was so frustrated, but I temporarily got my act together and headed straight to administration to let them know what I needed to be successful - and they denied every…single…request.

I remember one day, I said to myself, “I’m going to have lunch today - no matter what! I’m a human, not a machine.” And just as I got ready to get my purse and walk out, the MA comes in with a chart for a patient who JUST got released from the hospital with a diagnosis of diabetes.

You might be thinking, why didn’t you just have the patient wait until you came back? That’s a great question.

The patient had been waiting 2 hours for another provider who was not going to be able to see them because they were running behind.

I had a line-up of afternoon patients and really didn’t feel like staying even later than I normally do.

I felt bad for the patient who just got diagnosed with diabetes and needed someone to help him get set up with the right education and self-management tools.

So I saw the patient and he was thankful.

You might be wondering if I ate lunch that day…

Nope. I ate a KitKat bar I had in my purse and kept it moving.

That same day, I said to myself, "Well, since lunch didn’t work out, at least I’ll be able to leave work on time." I was WRONG.

4:45 PM (same day) the same MA came with another chart for a patient that had been waiting over an hour for another provider and the patient was starting to complain.

I asked the MA, “Who authorized this?” and she said, “The administrator.”

This was my breaking point. I just couldn’t continue to do this any more. This system was so broken and it was breaking me!

After three months of this, I was burned out.

I re-read my contract and found that I had to put up with this for another 3 months in order to give proper notice…

So I did. I gave my notice and they were NOT happy…but somehow understood.

Looking back, there are a lot of things that I would do differently. However, the lessons I learned in the subsequent 3 months would serve me for the rest of my career. I couldn’t go on 3 more months if I didn’t change for myself.

 I learned how to set boundaries for myself, my patients, and administrators

 ​​I learned how to advocate for myself in a professional manner 

 ​​I learned how to become more efficient in clinic with my patients while still providing amazing care (they still loved me when I left) 

 ​​I learned how to be resourceful - how to find the answers 

 ​​How to manage my emotions around people I didn’t like 

 ​​How to delegate to support staff 

 ​​How to manage the overwhelm 

I have used these skills throughout my career as a nurse practitioner and I am a more well-rounded professional because of it.

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