Nurse educators are RNs who have got advanced education but choose to work as teachers. Most start by working on the usual caregiving duties before they train and take up teaching.
Nurse educators, in most instances, have extensive clinical experience, and some even continue to care for patients even after they become educators.
Nurse educators serve as members of the faculty at nursing schools as well as teaching hospitals. They share essential skills and knowledge in preparing a new generation of nurses for effective practice. They can teach general courses or on their specialty areas such as nursing informatics, geriatric, and pediatric nursing. Nurse educators must follow up on the new nursing practice methods and technologies to stay current. It is essential to make nurse educators and their students are on a leading edge of clinical practice.
Nurse educators with experience can advance to an administrative role such as management of nurse education programs, development of continuing education programs for the working nurses, and writing or reviewing textbooks.
Educational Qualifications to Become a Nurse Educator
Earning a nursing degree and work experience as a registered nurse are the first steps to becoming a nurse educator. The first thing to do is enrolling to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program if you have a desire for teaching role because most clinical educators positions require this level of education as part of qualifications.
You must work to build experience after earning a bachelor’s degree. Many clinical educator jobs ads show that over half of the positions require candidates to have experience of 3-5 years in an active nursing role. A BSN degree holder with the right experience is fit to fill a clinical educator position.
Nurses who plan to work as educators at a higher level like in hospital-based diploma programs should consider pursuing an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree focusing on nursing education. MSN has offered more advanced coursework that adds to the knowledge acquired during a bachelor’s degree program.
Nurses who aspire to teach students at college or university level should get a doctoral degree in nursing. Four-year universities, in some circumstances, hire a nurse educator who has a master’s degree without a doctorate. Those that they hire with an MSN degree are nurses with extensive practical experience in a unique specialty or a desirable experience in teaching.
Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (DNP) program that mostly focuses on clinical practice suits those who want to become nurse educators. Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.) is another suitable choice for an aspiring nurse educator. It is a program that emphasizes much on research. Students learn about research tactics, leadership, and public policy. A few universities offer both in an MSN/Ph.D. dual degree program.
The entry requirement for nurse educator positions outside formal academia is more open. Some opening s even accepts a BSN by registered nurses with some experience.
Nurse Educator Certification and Experience
Most employers require applicants for teaching position to have at least three years experience in hands-on nursing before they can start teaching. The time might vary according to a program. It is essential to ask about the minimum experience by an institution before sending an application.
Nurses should, after graduating sit and pass a certification exam to become a certified nurse educator. These are the qualifications that make someone eligible to sit for a certification examination.
- A bachelor’s degree and n active RN license
- Masters or a doctoral degree in nursing with a post master’s certificate (nursing education)
- Masters or doctoral degree in nursing with nine or more credit hours graduate-level education courses
Working Conditions for a Nurse Educator
Nurse educators are responsible for implementing, revising, evaluating, and designing nursing educational programs.
Nurse educators can teach general or specialized nursing classes. Nursing informatics, psychiatric, and pediatric nursing are some of the specialized areas of nursing. The teaching can be in formal academic programs culminating to a degree, credential/certificate programs, or in continuing education. The career, at some point, requires educators to participate in creating a new course or updating the old.
It is the reason why nurse educators should stay up-to-date by following up the latest trends, methods, technologies, and developments in nursing. It is this reason that makes some nurse educators are active participants in nursing community activities through professional organizations. Others continue performing the core patient care duties when they have time.
Nurse Educator Work Settings
Nurse educators can work in various settings where they can engage students in nursing classes. You mostly find them working in academic contexts. Some nurse educators work as clinical supervisors in health care settings or staff development officers.
These are the workplaces for nurse educators who actively teach students.
- Long term care facilities
Educational institutions and academic settings
- Technical schools
- Community college
- Trade and vocational school
Nurse Educator Salaries and Job Outlook
Salaries of nurse educators vary depending on the level of education, the employer, and experience. US Bureau of Labor Statistics places the annual average earnings for postsecondary nursing instructors at $77,360. Educators who work at surgical hospitals earn a higher average salary of $89,390.
The amount that someone earns depends much on clinical and teaching experience. Annual salaries usually rise for educators if they earn a higher degree like doctorate on top of masters. Those who get leadership or administrative responsibilities at an academic institution also get a pay rise. Nurse educators can make extra money by offering patient care.
Many nursing schools are now offering a higher and more competitive salary to attract nurse educators. In the past, experienced nurses were earning more by taking care of patients than they could gain when teaching. Government agencies, nonprofit organization, and professional groups have launched campaigns for encouraging nurses to choose a career in nursing education. It is a reaction to the need for training more nurses to reduce the current shortage that can increase when an aging population requires more nursing attention. BLS projects growth in employment of nurse educators by 19% to 2024.
A career in nursing education is something to consider for nurses who like sharing knowledge. Even a new entrant to nursing can start the journey to become a nurse educator by enrolling for an MSN degree while working as an RN to gain experience and higher education concurrently.