What is a Nurse Educator?

Nurse EducatorFor registered nurses who wish to combine their clinical training and expertise with a passion for teaching, becoming a nurse educator is a great next career step. As an estimated one million replacement nurses will be needed in the workforce before 2022, the demand for nurse educators to train new qualified candidates will rise to address America’s critical nursing shortage. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that nearly 80,000 applicants are turned away each year because there are not enough nurse educators to teach these bright young minds. If you are considering starting a rich career in playing a pivotal role in strengthening our nation’s nursing workforce, read on to learn about the job description for nurse educators.

What Nurse Educators Do

Nurse educators are critical proponents of the nursing profession who are responsible for shaping the next generation of registered nurses to ensure the highest quality of patient services. With their advanced education and extensive clinical experiences, nurse educators serve as faculty members to share their expert knowledge and skills in preparing nurses for effective practices. Nurse educators are typically responsible for developing lesson plans, teaching courses, assessing educational progress, supervising students’ clinical practicum, designing curriculum, and serving as role models for future nurses. Nurse educators may teach general nursing courses or specialize their teaching in a specific area, such as pediatrics, nursing informatics, community health, nursing administration, or geriatrics.

Where Nurse Educators Teach

Many nurse educators dedicate their careers to educating future nurses in nursing departments at community colleges, vocational schools, colleges, and universities. Depending on their education level, nurse educators may choose to teach courses for nursing students pursuing an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctoral degree related to nursing practice. In addition to traditional campus settings, there are a number of nurse educators that offer continuing education programs for staff development to licensed or registered nurses in hospitals and other similar practice settings. It is also becoming increasingly popular for nurse educators to find employment opportunities working for government agencies, professional associations, and non-profit organizations to launch public campaigns for encouraging young people to the career.

How to Become a Nurse Educator

Before being able to teach nursing, you must at least have at least a bachelor’s degree and several years of clinical experience with valid licensure as a registered nurse. However, employers generally will prefer hiring nurse educators who have completed an accredited Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program, preferably with a concentration in Nurse Education. If you have a desire to teach at the graduate level of universities, you will likely need to receive a doctorate or receive at least a post-master’s certificate in education. In order to demonstrate your excellence in this advanced nursing specialty role in academia, you should also consider pursuing the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) credential through the National League for Nursing (NLN) by passing a professional examination.

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Overall, nurse educators are highly trained teachers that utilize their exceptional communication skills, clinical expertise, and ability to clearly explain complex concepts to educate the next generation of nurses to meet the nation’s healthcare needs. As 56% of nursing schools have reported faculty vacancies in the last year alone, it is an excellent time to consider advancing your nursing career by becoming a nurse educator and imparting your wisdom in shaping the future nursing workforce.