Become A Nurse Educator: Career Guide

February 5, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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If you’ve got a master’s or doctorate degree and prefer to guide the next generation of nurses in the classroom rather than work in a hospital, a career as a nurse educator is the perfect solution. The shortage of nurse educators is one of the biggest issues in nursing today and with no sign that the scenario is going to change anytime soon, these professionals are sorely needed. Nurse educators are registered nurses with advanced education who are also teachers. Most work as nurses for a period of time before making a career switch to educating future nurses either part-time or full-time. 

Detailed job description & career progression

Nurse educators usually serve as faculty members in nursing schools and teaching hospitals, sharing their knowledge and expertise to prepare the next generation of nurses for effective practice. They develop lesson plans, teach courses, supervise students’ clinical practice, assess educational programs and serve as role models for their students. Nurse educators may teach general courses or focus on any one specialty such as paediatric nursing, geriatric nursing or emergency nursing.

Most nurse educators have extensive clinical experience and many continue practicing alongside teaching. Even if they no longer practice, nurse educators must stay up to date with the latest advancements in nursing methods and technologies.

Some educators also work in health care settings as staff development officers or clinical supervisors. Educators who supervise students in clinical settings may divide their time between campus and a nearby hospital or other health care setting.

With adequate experience, a nurse educator may consider an administrative role, such as managing nurse education programs, developing continuing education programs for working nurses or writing and reviewing nursing textbooks.

Depending on the workplace, these professionals may work a nine-month academic calendar or throughout the year. Unlike clinical nurses, nurse educators do not usually work overnight hours or 12-hour shifts.

Academic Requirements

Before you can teach nursing, you must become, at minimum, a registered nurse with a valid license and several years of work experience. While a master’s degree in nursing is the minimum requirement for most teaching jobs, a doctorate is mandatory to teach at most universities.

In addition to knowledge and clinical experience, nurse educators must be good at imparting knowledge. That means you need to have outstanding communication skills, an easy rapport with people, comfortable with public speaking, and the ability to clearly explain complex concepts to students.

Salary and Outlook

The average salary for a nurse educator depends greatly on how much clinical and teaching experience you have and where you teach. Educators who work only during the academic year are paid their annual salary only over those nine months. Summer teaching is often paid separately.

Salaries are higher for nurse educators who complete a doctorate and for those who assume administrative or leadership responsibilities in the school. Many nurse educators also earn additional income by caring for patients.

With the serious nursing shortage worldwide, nurse educators are in extremely high demand. One of the key reasons for that shortage is the lack of nurse educators to train future nurses.