Elevate Your Practice in 2024: A New Approach to Self-Care for Thriving APPs

 In a field as physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding as healthcare, the value of holistic self-care cannot be overstated. The practice is especially pertinent for nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician associates (PAs), who often work long hours and care for large numbers of patients with little time off. As hospitals and healthcare providers face staffing shortages and employee burnout, it becomes clear that a fresh perspective on self-care in 2024 is much needed—and for the APPs who work tirelessly to provide excellent care for their patients, well deserved.   

The Burnout Epidemic: Acknowledging the Struggle 

Research suggests that on average, 25% of NPs and 32% of PAs experience burn out. These figures are significant considering the ripple effect employee burnout can have not only on the effected employee, but on quality of care and patient outcome.  

Burnout is the exhaustion brought on by prolonged exposure to job-related stress. Though the term has only recently come into cultural consciousness, its implications are severe and far-reaching. Medical research shows that the strain of burnout can spill over into an employee’s personal life, leading to anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation. At work, burnout often leads to lower morale, decreased job satisfaction, and higher turnover rates. In a hospital setting the consequences are even more severe, including impaired quality of care, more room for error, and potential medical malpractice lawsuits.  

Rethinking Self-Care: A Holistic Approach 

To combat a threat as all-encompassing as burnout, our plan of attack must be holistic. Holistic self-care considers the whole person, accounting for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.  

Because our personal and professional lives are inextricably connected, when one flourishes, the other tends to as well. Striking a healthy balance between the two is essential. Actively cultivating personal interests, hobbies, and other activities that inspire joy and promote relaxation can help employees feel energized and more fulfilled by their work, while exercise, enough sleep, and proper nutrition can ensure they show up rested and recharged.   

When employees practice holistic self-care, the results speak for themselves. They have more energy to spend time with friends and family when they aren’t exhausted from work. They look forward to going to work rather than dreading it. And most importantly, they’re able to show up fully for their patients and provide the best care possible.  

Practical Strategies for Self-Care 

Holistic self-care sounds great in theory, but what does it look like in practice? Here are a few actionable tips to get you started:  

  • Create a Morning Routine: Start your day with activities that set a positive tone, such as stretching, journaling, or reading something uplifting.  Avoid checking your phone or emails immediately upon waking to reduce stress. 
  • Schedule "Me Time": Dedicate specific time blocks in your calendar for self-care activities, just as you would for work or other commitments. Remember to treat these appointments with the same level of importance as any other. 
  • Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Allocate a few minutes each day for mindfulness or meditation to calm your mind and reduce stress.  
  • Disconnect from Technology: Designate specific times to disconnect from electronic devices, especially before bedtime. Reduce screen time to minimize the impact of blue light on your sleep quality. 

Time management is equally essential to reducing burnout. Ultimately, time management boils down to organization, so try maintaining a planner or calendar, knowing your deadlines, and setting reminders. It’s also important to establish clear boundaries, prioritize tasks, and avoid overcommitting. Support networks and resources can be incredibly helpful during this process, providing a sense of community, reducing feelings of isolation, and providing helpful tips and insights into holistic self-care.  

Upskilling for Career Resilience 

Upskilling, put simply, is the process of learning new skills. In a field as dynamic as healthcare, upskilling is essential for NPs and PAs looking to enhance their professional adaptability and career resilience. As medicine continually evolves with technological advancements, policy changes, and shifting patient needs, NPs and PAs must acquire new skills and medical knowledge proactively. Relevant areas for upskilling include proficiency in telehealth technologies, data analytics for evidence-based decision-making, and a deeper understanding of emerging medical treatments and therapies.  

Cultivating strong communication and leadership skills, as well as staying abreast of regulatory updates, ensures healthcare professionals are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of modern healthcare delivery. By embracing upskilling, NPs and PAs position themselves as agile contributors to healthcare innovation, fostering personal growth and bolstering their ability to provide high-quality patient care. 

Continuous Education and Professional Development

Continuous education and professional development are paramount for NPs and PAs to stay abreast of advancements in healthcare. Emphasizing lifelong learning not only enriches their knowledge base but also cultivates confidence and fosters professional growth. Through ongoing education, NPs and PAs enhance their clinical skills, stay updated on best practices, and adapt to evolving patient needs. Investing in continuing education and professional development programs provides access to curated resources, workshops, and mentorship opportunities, empowering healthcare providers to excel in their roles. Thankfully, in our digital age continuing education is easier than ever, with conferences, workshops, seminars, and other structured CME activities just clicks away. 

ThriveAP is at the forefront of continuing education and professional development for NPs and PAs. Through weekly, live virtual courses across 10 core curriculum blocks, our program offers didactic knowledge and skill development bolstered by a supportive network of clinicians. ThriveAP helps APPs transition to practice with confidence, facilitating application of coursework to real-world clinical practice via professional networking, one on one mentoring, weekly discussions, and ‘journal club style’ clinical corners. Designed with the busy lives of NPs and PAs in mind, ThriveAP offers rolling enrollment, a Learning Management System (LMS) to manage and deliver curriculum, and a scalable virtual program that integrates seamlessly with work schedules.   

By embracing continuous learning, NPs and PAs not only elevate their own practice but also contribute positively to patient care outcomes and the overall healthcare landscape. With each educational endeavor, they bolster their ability to provide optimal care and navigate the complexities of modern healthcare with assurance and proficiency. 

The Future of Self-Care in Healthcare

When it comes to self-care for healthcare professionals, emerging trends and innovations are reshaping the landscape. Technology plays a pivotal role, with the rise of health apps, wearable devices, and virtual wellness platforms providing personalized solutions for stress management, mindfulness, and physical health tracking. Meanwhile the growing emphasis on community support within healthcare circles, facilitated by online forums and peer networks, fosters a sense of solidarity and shared experiences.  

As NPs and PAs navigate the demands of their roles, embracing these technological tools and community resources can significantly impact their overall well-being. By adopting a forward-thinking mindset, staying attuned to emerging trends, and actively participating in supportive communities, healthcare professionals can position themselves to overcome current challenges and proactively address future challenges—ensuring personal and professional fulfillment long into the future.  

In the evolving and demanding realm of healthcare, holistic self-care for NPs and PAs is more critical than ever—especially amidst the current burnout epidemic. In 2024, a fresh and proactive approach to self-care is in order. By prioritizing personal interests, embracing mindfulness practices, and disconnecting from technology, healthcare professionals can create a resilient foundation that positively influences patient care and job satisfaction.  

NPs and PAs must recognize that an investment in their well-being is an investment in the quality of care they provide. By adopting this holistic mindset and embracing a fresh approach to self-care, NPs and PAs not only safeguard their own professional fulfillment but contribute to a healthcare environment characterized by sustained excellence and compassionate, holistic service. 

For more tips & clinical pearls of wisdom, apply to enroll in one of the ThriveAP transition to practice curriculums.