How to Become a Nurse Educator
Over the last decade, health care reform in the U.S. has created rapid change in the medical field. To meet the demands of constantly evolving health care legislation, technology and best practices, nursing education is more important than ever before for these professionals who provide patient care in health care organizations across the country. However, to provide high quality education on the scale that the current health care market demands requires a large number of qualified and experienced instructors.
To meet this need, academic institutions that train health care professionals are looking to hire and invest in new nurse educators. If you are a nurse currently working in health care with an interest in teaching, now is the time to consider whether a career as a nurse educator instructing the future generation of nurses is right for you.
Beginning your new career
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a nurse educator, your first step is to gain clinical experience working in the field. Your future students will benefit from the workplace expertise that you gain now. As a nurse, you know that many valuable lessons are learned working with patients each day, and some of those experiences that you will be able to pass on may prove more beneficial than what your students learn out of a text book.
In addition, it is also essential to gain experience teaching. If you have had few chances to instruct others in the past, American Nurse Today recommended looking for opportunities to mentor students or new staff members. It is never too early to start refining your teaching skills in the workplace.
Becoming a nurse educator
In addition to workplace experience, the correct academic credentials are essential for a career as a nurse educator. To teach the next generation of nurses, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is typically seen as a must. The MSN will instruct you in the latest and greatest in nursing theory and best workplace practices to deepen your understanding of the field. If you have not yet earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, consider enrolling in an online RN to MSN program to complete both simultaneously.
While an MSN generally qualifies you to teach, some institutions prefer candidates who have also completed a Doctor of Science in Nursing (DSN) degree, according to American Nurse Today. The DSN will provide you with a deeper background in both leadership and nursing theory. In addition to opportunities in nursing education, completing a doctorate degree can also open opportunities for other leadership positions within health care. In today’s competitive job market, a DSN can help to set you apart from the competition wherever you want to take your career.
Meeting a growing demand
If you have considered starting a career as a nurse educator, now is the time. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing faculty shortages at institutions across the country are currently limiting the number of nursing students that can enroll, despite the fact that there is a growing need for nursing professionals in the U.S.
The high demand for instructors in the field is reflected in the competitive wages that the position offers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the mean annual wage of a nurse educator at a secondary institute in May 2015 was $73,150. With a high demand and a competitive salary, pursuing a position as a nurse educator could be a rewarding next step in your career.