Quick Facts :
Nurse Educator

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Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary, May 2017.

info-icon MSN or PhD
info-icon $71,260 Annual Wage
info-icon 15% Job Growth

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What Is a Nurse Educator?

Becoming a nurse educator is highly rewarding and respected career outcome. Nurse Educators typically report a sense of great personal satisfaction from their careers and benefit from high employer demand for people with their knowledge and skills. Recent studies indicate that there is a shortage of MSN and Ph.D. educated nurses in the country. Declining numbers are largely attributed to an aging workforce that approaching retirement, and inadequate numbers of qualified replacements due to a shortage of educational programs and faculty to teach potential students.

A nurse educator is a clincally trained and licensed nurse that educates and trains future nurses. Basically, this profession involves teaching nursing students what you know and what to expect from the profession. As a nurse educator, you should have an expert-level understanding and in-depth knowledge of nursing theory and clinical practice, along with strong communication skills. You should also be able to demonstrate a mastery of basic and advanced nursing techniques and be able to easily explain them to students.

A nurse educator is expected to be a highly effective teacher and a role model for their students. Students will often reference and mirror the approach of their teachers and mentors, so it is important for Nurse Educators to exhibit a passion for excellence and to set a strong example for the nursing students who are observing them. They should be excited to share their knowledge and watch future generations of nurses grow and blossom into well-trained professionals. A nurse educator should also be a proficient and patient teacher and should strive to better the world of nursing as well.

What Do Nurse Educators Do?

Simply put, nurse educators teach nursing students. However, in under the surface, it’s often much more complicated than that. These nursing and education professionals are responsible for designing, evaluating, updating, and implementing new and current nursing education curriculum.

The first responsibility of a nurse educator is to teach. These professionals often work in both classrooms and clinical settings, teaching new nursing student courses as well as continuing education courses. In order to perform their jobs well, they must have excellent leadership skills and an in-depth knowledge of their fields. Most nurse educators will also act as role models and advisers, helping students along their journeys toward becoming successful nurses.

At some point, a nurse educator may be asked to create new nursing courses or redesign – or update – old courses. In order to do this, they must stay abreast of the latest nursing trends and developments, and base their curriculum on this. Because of this, most nurse educators continue to work as professional nurses in their fields and continue to actively participate in the nursing community, often through professional organizations.

Where Do Nurse Educators Work?

Nurse educator positions can often be found in nearly any facility that offers nursing classes. This generally includes some healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, that offer training programs for nurses. Educational institutes that offer nursing degree or certificate programs will also usually have a need for nurse educators. Examples include universities, community colleges, trade and vocational schools, and even some high schools.

How Do I Become a Nurse Educator?

In order to become a nurse educator, you will first need to become a certified registered nurse (RN) or advance practice nurse (APN). Several years of experience in your field is also usually recommended and sometimes even required.

Along with the training and education it takes to become a certified nursing professional, you will also need to complete continuing education courses to keep your certification current. Most employers, for instance, require nurse educators to have a minimum of a master’s degree, but mandatory doctoral nursing degrees are becoming more common for nurse educators, especially for those seeking tenure.

Additional Resources for Educator Nurses