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What is a Nurse Educator?

November 26, 2013

The field of nursing is ever changing as new technology and practices come on the scene and to the forefront of patient care. Keeping ahead of these trends and tools and arming emerging medical professionals with the skills and knowledge to master the latest procedures and policies is important to maintaining high levels of patient care and services. Nurse educators are on the front lines of teaching a new class of nurses and preparing them for a modern health care industry. So, what is a nurse educator and how can you become one? You should start with a solid education base. King University offers a specialized track for nursing professionals seeking a career in nurse education.

On the Job with a Nurse Educator

A typical nurse educator is a registered nurse (RN) who holds an advanced degree such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in education. Most nurse educators work many years, even decades, in a health care setting before choosing to earn an MSN and transition into the nursing education field. Many nurse educators choose to work part time in the classroom to stay connected to patients and practice in patient care services to keep their skills and experience fresh. That being said, it isn’t uncommon for a nurse educator to devote his or her career to the classroom on a full-time basis to fully engage with students and support nursing academics at their respective institution. However, these nurses must stay connected to the latest health care trends to stay relevant in the field and be an effective instructor in the classroom.

Nurse educators join faculty members at accredited higher education institutions, such as:

  • Community colleges,
  • Technical schools,
  • Four-year colleges and
  • Universities and teaching hospitals.

Nurse education quote

The teaching professionals impart their knowledge, skills and experience onto nursing students enrolled in accredited nursing schools at the aforementioned facilities. In this capacity, they are tasked with creating exploratory curriculum that bridges practical nursing applications with modern health care advancements. Nurse educators provide students with classroom instruction, oversee clinical practice hours and serve as a mentor for nursing students throughout their educational experience. They are also required to attend faculty meetings, grade papers and complete other administrative work as needed. Experienced nurse educators may also pursue roles outside the classroom, including academic research, grant writing and procedure and policy development for clinical standards.

Education and Credentials

Requirements for nurse educators may vary according to the type of academic institution in which he or she is employed. The minimum eligibility standards for nurse educators require an RN to hold a valid license and have several years of job experience. Most four-year colleges and universities require their nurse educators to hold an MSN while others seek doctorate-level professionals to take on these instructional roles.

You also need to be a natural teacher to become an effective nurse educator. This requires:

  • Superior communication skills,
  • The ability to explain complex subjects to students and
  • A high comfort level with people.

Career outcomes

It is no secret that the health care industry is in the midst of a nursing shortage. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that more than one million new nursing jobs will need to be filled within the next few years. And, while much of that demand is driven by an aging population and advancing medical care services, it is also caused by the lack of available space in nursing programs at four-year colleges due to a scarcity of institutional resources to support education. These colleges and universities don’t have the room in on-campus classrooms to hold the number of applicants seeking enrollment due to space limitations as well as a shortage of nursing educators.

As schools race to keep up with industry demands while operating within budget constraints, many institutions are looking for nurse educators to lead online MSN programs.

Nurse Education salary

These programs deliver the same effective curriculum and instruction without the space limitations associated with on-campus programs. This equates to more nursing students moving through the enrollment tunnel and earning a degree faster.

Education is central to the continued growth of the health care field. Nurse educators are on the ground floor of preparing a new generation of nurses for a changing industry.A nurse educator can expect to make an average annual salary of $70,000; however, salary is largely dependent on type of academic employer, region, as well as experience and education level.