Although it’s not classified as a medical condition, burnout is the state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by sustained work-related stressors.

In fact, the World Health Organization identified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon, a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” And burnout doesn’t discriminate — it is found in all occupations. For nurses, burnout is often the result of short staffing, long hours, lack of sleep, the pressure of quick decision making, lack of social support, and work-life imbalance.

Burnout can affect anyone who works in or utilizes healthcare: nurses, employers, and patients alike. Coupled with the stress of a global pandemic, nurses themselves are at risk for developing stress-related disorders that can lead to them quitting their jobs.

This increased turnover puts more stress on an already overworked healthcare system. For hospitals or other institutions, increased burnout can affect both their reputation and bottom line. For patients, nurse burnout can directly impact the quality of the care they receive. Mistakes due to exhaustion often lead to poor patient outcomes.

When burnout sets in, it’s time to consider your options as a nurse. Whether it’s taking an extended leave to regroup or advancing your degree to open up more job opportunities, it’s important for nurses experiencing burnout to act when it strikes.

If direct patient care is taking its toll, considering an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can open doors to new roles both inside and outside of the clinical setting. MSN-prepared nurses have more opportunities for leadership roles, which translates to a deeper impact on workplace culture where burnout can originate.

While having an MSN degree can equip nurse leaders with the skills and resources needed to improve their working environment and be proactive about addressing burnout, it can also provide broader job prospects across a variety of interests and specialties.

MSN graduates are equipped to engage in advanced-level nursing practices. And depending on the program you choose, you’ll have greater opportunities for professional advancement outside of basic clinical care, including specialties in pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, oncology, and psychiatry.

MSNs can also enjoy additional career options outside of direct patient care — jobs with more responsibility and potentially higher earnings including healthcare management and leadership, clinical research, and higher-ed teaching positions.

For MSN nurses who choose other specialty areas such as writing or research, their hours can offer more regularity, providing a better work-life balance.

Better salary is another benefit of advancing your degree. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, MSN nurses make nearly 44% more than RNs. While RNs earn an average of $75,330 per year, master’s-prepared nurses who go on to pursue a specialty earn an average of $117,670.

If you’re concerned about the time commitment of getting an advanced degree, a BSN to MSN program is your answer. Specifically designed for RN’s with a BSN, these accelerated programs can often be completed in as little as a year. Courses are provided in an online, asynchronous format, have a direct-care clinical component, and offer virtual simulation. The program enables you to do coursework when it’s convenient, helping you balance your education with the rest of your life.

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