Nurses require significant training and education to enter the field. One of the more critical roles within nursing is the nurse educator. This position differs from traditional nursing in that you don’t have patients. Instead, the nurse educator works with students.
In this guide, we will cover the following:
- What is a nurse educator?
- What does a nurse educator do?
- In what settings do nurse educators work?
- How do I become a nurse educator?
- What is the salary and career outlook of a nurse educator?
What is a nurse educator?
A nurse educator is an advanced practice registered nurse who teaches nursing curriculum mostly at colleges and universities. They stand at the forefront, shaping the future nurses of the world.
Nurse educators work with all types of nursing students.
They generally tend to help:
- Prospective nurses beginning coursework
- Recently licensed registered nurses
- Nurses seeking certification within a specialty
- Graduate student nurses pursuing advanced degrees
- Nurses switching units within a hospital
Nurse educators work with a diverse student population. They must possess the requisite skills and knowledge to help their students. In many ways, they may serve as the first mentor to a nurse.
In addition to working at colleges and universities, nurse educators also may work in clinical settings.
What does a nurse educator do?
The nurse educator must prepare the nursing student for the field. Given that, their scope of practice casts a wide net. The specific duties of a nurse educator are outlined below.
The nurse educator must develop a course curriculum, determine the classroom structure, and choose what kind of textbooks and references the students will use.
These choices will help guide the way their classroom operates. A good nurse educator will choose reputable resources and reading material for the students to engage with. Also, figuring out a methodology that accommodates the students’ needs is critical, too.
Oversee lab and clinical work
As a nurse educator, you serve in a supervisory position with the students. This is especially important when it comes to their labs and clinical work. You will analyze and guide their patient interactions and provide feedback on their results.
Lecture and facilitate discussions
Nurse educators need to present lectures on a bevy of issues and help students dissect and investigate ideas through discussion. Some of the topics you might explore with your students include standards of care, health policy, care of specific populations, specialization and more.
The important part is having a breadth of knowledge and ability to use engaging discourse.
Supervise research, internships, and student teaching
You will oversee students as they venture into their clinical assignments, research projects, and teaching field experience.
For those nurse educators who teach at universities, you will perform research in addition to teaching. You will have an opportunity to study trends, evaluate policies, and research topics like improving patient care.
Often, nurse educators receive publication within peer-reviewed journals. They have the opportunity to present works that deal with global health or nurses’ mental health.
Given their authority as nurse educators, their work can make a significant impact within the nursing world. For example, a study on nursing burnout can help improve work policies for nurses around the country.
In what settings do nurse educators work?
Nurse educators have the flexibility to work in a variety of settings. However, most of work within the field of academia or higher education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the top five fields that they work in:
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
- Junior Colleges
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
- Technical and Trade Schools
- Business Schools and Management Training
These are some of the specific roles that a nurse educator can perform:
- Unit-based educator
- Hospital educator
- NCLEX educator
- Associate Dean of a nursing school
- Dean of a nursing school
- Administrative nursing staff
How do I become a nurse educator?
To become a nurse educator, you must have at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Some nurse educators have doctoral degrees. The degree you choose depends on what you want to teach.
If your goal is teaching full-time at the university, you should receive your Ph.D. or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Nurse educators who want to work at community colleges or other settings can work with an MSN degree.
Step 1: Gain experience as an RN
The first step involves getting your RN license and developing experience. As stated, some nursing programs won’t take you as a student unless you have completed a couple of years as a registered nurse. Also, it’s essential to have RN experience so that your knowledge base isn’t hypothetical but based on practice.
Step 2: Obtain your BSN
After gaining experience as an RN, it’s vital to receive your Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Step 3: Enroll in an MSN or DNP program
Whether you choose a Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice program depends on the field of practice you want to pursue.
Step 4: Earn your CNE (Certified Nurse Educator)
Though you don’t have to receive certification to teach, it may give you a leg up on the competition. Nurse educators can obtain certification through the National League for Nursing and by taking the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) exam.
To take the CNE exam, you must have an MSN and an active and unrestricted RN license.
What is the salary and career outlook of a nurse educator?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for nurse educators is $83,160. Of course, the salary for nurse educators depends on a host of factors. This includes the level of education, experience, and location.
The career prospects look good as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that one-third of the current nursing faculty will retire by 2025.
The field is ready for new nurse educators to prepare the nurses of the future. If that’s you, we can find you a job.
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