Nurse Graduates, Nurses, and Nursing Faculty Burnout

by PamtheNurse PamtheNurse, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Education. Has 27 years experience.

Nurse Graduates seeking to accomplish advanced degrees and leaving the bedside, is burnout a possible factor?

Can seeking advanced degrees lead to burnout?

Nurse Graduates, Nurses, and Nursing Faculty Burnout

Previous articles have garnered comments regarding graduate nurse proclivity toward advanced degrees and not remaining at the patient bedside. Graduate nurses self-describe as wanting to be the best, excel, and achieve the greatest compensation. In addition, there are those encouragements left from the Magnet programs (A new model, 2010; Drenkard, 2013; Stimpfel, Rosen & McHugh, 2014; Wolf & Reid-Pointe, 2008) for graduates to achieve degrees.

The patient bedside care is comparable to primary health care. Primary health care is described as essential health care much like bedside nursing. Calma, Halcomb, and Stephens (2019) discuss curriculum, nursing student attitude, and perceptions, preparing them for primary health care workers. They discovered a focus on acute care in curricula that color the nursing student perception.

Acute care curricula content and the encouragement to pursue advanced degrees is that having a greater impact? Is it truly a lack of awareness of essential healthcare career possibilities, therefore desire and confidence are lacking as suggested by Calma, Halcomb, and Stephens (2019)? Or could it be the student nurse experience that affects a nurse?

When I was a student driver in a car with my driver education instructor (yes it was a long time ago), he pointed out to myself and the two other bored high school student drivers in the car that watching pedestrian reaction at seeing the student driver sign on the top of the car was indicative of their student driver experience. A smile indicated a positive experience a frown a negative one. Interestingly I noticed a reaction was universal despite age and gender. It has me thinking is it the same for nurses? Does their student nursing experience color their nursing practice or just their reaction when reminded of it?

Or is it burnout? Burnout is defined in the ICD-11 as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy” (WHO, 2019).

As discussed in previous articles by this author, burnout was first researched and identified in educators and healthcare providers primarily nurses in the 1980s. Since burnout has been extensively researched and led to the identification of it in many work settings and roles. Additionally, the research has continued for those in education and healthcare. More recently, nursing students have been included. My own study is of nursing faculty burnout. The research survey will be available soon.

I began this article with thoughts of nursing graduates, many of which who have expressed intentions of not remaining at the bedside but to continue their education. This author has previously posted articles on which have garnered anecdotal lamentation commentary of educating graduates to advanced degree levels taking them away from the bedside resulting in leaving future patient bedside unattended.

Interestingly, research and data that established the advantageous use of bachelor prepared nurses at the bedside for the patient also gave impetus to the Magnet programs (A new model, 2010; Drenkard, 2013; Stimpfel, Rosen & McHugh, 2014; Wolf & Reid-Pointe, 2008). There is the research conducted by Calma, Halcomb, and Stephens (2019) that offers the possibility of nurse graduates simply unaware of primary health care or bedside nursing as a viable opportunity. Another thought offered is the student nurse experience affecting the nurse as a graduate and beyond. There is current research of the nursing student and burnout that begins during the nursing education experience. Also, research has linked burnout in nurses and nursing faculty to nursing shortages.

Is burnout leading the graduates to seek further education to leave the bedside? Will future bedside nursing experience shortages to the extent that patients will go untended? Given we have experienced nursing shortages in the past and are currently experiencing nursing shortages, is this happening now? Your thoughts? 


A new model for ANCC's magnet recognition program. (2010). Retrieved from

Drenkard, K. (2013). The value of magnet. Journal of Nursing, 43(10), S2-S3.

Stimpfel, A., Rosen, J. E., & McHugh, M. D. (2014). Understanding the role of the professional practice environment on quality of care in magnet and non-magnet hospitals. Journal of Nursing Administration, 44(1), 10-16.

World Health Organization [WHO]. (2019). Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Wolf, G., & Reid-Ponte, P. (2008). Magnet recognition program: The next generation. Journal of Nursing Administration, 38(4), 200-204. Retrieved from

PamtheNurse specializes in Simulation.

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4 Comment(s)


OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology. Has 7 years experience. 1,191 Posts

100%. You don't need a big study to confirm this. If you have a heavy pt population and you are dealing with understaffing day in and day out nurses are going to leave the bedside for a M-F job or start school so they can get a job doing NP or administration.

It's simple: Staff your floors and support your nurses and you won't have as much of an exodus from the bedside. It isn't hard.


PamtheNurse, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Education. Has 27 years experience. 8 Articles; 50 Posts


I appreciate your comments. I and many others have stated similarly. However, nothing seems to be happening to alleviate understaffing. It has been thus for a very long time. The culture of nursing that supports the generalist training and the attitude behind the pride that all nurses can do and be all has to change.



Specializes in SCRN. Has 8 years experience. 398 Posts

Burnout is even worse with COVID-19.Expect more nurses to leave the bedside. We have a revolving door on the new graduates, last time a nurse with some experience was hired 4 years ago. Disappointing.


PamtheNurse, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Education. Has 27 years experience. 8 Articles; 50 Posts


COVID-19 has exacerbated the best and the worst. Thank you for your comment.