What is a Nurse Educator?

Nurse educators are teachers who train the registered nurses of tomorrow’s workforce. Regardless of whether they work in practice or academic settings, they prepare and mentor health care providers by providing leadership and serving as role models. Their ultimate goals are to strengthen the nursing workforce through promoting evidence-based practices and better patient outcomes.

Job Requirements

In order to become nurse educators, candidates must be licensed registered nurses (RN) or advance practice nurses (APN). Most organizations expect candidates to have three to five years of experience in the field. The Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing are the degrees that nurse educators will be expected to obtain. However, some employers only require that nurse educators enroll in a master’s program after being hired.

Nurse educators must maintain current state registered nurse licenses as well as BLS and ACLS licenses. Depending on the organization, they may be expected to have specialized experience in areas like pediatric care, emergency nursing or health care technologies. Nurse educators must be very familiar with electronic health records information systems. Finally, they must have strong oral presentation and hands-on demonstration skills.

Employment Settings

Nurse educators usually work in academic settings within community colleges, nursing schools and technical schools. Some work in health care settings as clinical supervisors of new hires or staff development officers for existing employees. Nurse educators may work a standard nine-month academic calendar or they may be required to work all year long. However, nurse educators generally do not have to work 12-hour shifts or overnight hours.

The majority of a nurse educator’s day is spent in classrooms where they perform lectures and provide demonstrations. It is also spent in offices where they advise students, grade papers, attend faculty meetings and handle administrative work. Nurse educators who oversee students in clinical settings usually divide their time between the academic campus and a nearby health care facility. A select few nurse educators research scientific topics used in nursing practice and education.

Career Advantages

Nurse educators are usually satisfied with their work because mentoring students and watching them gain skills and confidence is a rewarding aspect of being a teacher. Nurse educators have access to cutting-edge knowledge, innovative research and opportunities to collaborate with a variety of health care professionals. Because there is a growing shortage of nurses and nurse educators, the career outlook is excellent. This translates to better job security and opportunities to advance to higher positions.

Nurse educators enjoy career flexibility, because their diverse roles include clinical teachers, on-site hospital coaches, continuing education specialists and directors of nursing schools. Many nurse educators teach part-time while working a clinical position, which allows them to maintain a high salary and a high degree of clinical competency. Nurse educators also enjoy academic opportunities to serve as educational consultants, speak at nursing conferences and conduct and publish research in professional nursing journals.

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Those who become nurse educators should consider obtaining the Certified Nurse Educator CNE)credential through the National League for Nursing (NLN).