What is a nurse educator?
Whether you’re just beginning your nursing career or have been working in the field for many years, you may find yourself at the point where you’re starting to think about the next step in your profession. While there are many leadership positions open to seasoned nurses, health professionals with a passion for teaching may want to seriously consider a career in education.
Do you find yourself eager to help new staff members learn the ropes? Or do new nurses turn to you for advice and mentorship? Signs such as these may indicate that you have the skills it takes to turn your informal teaching into a professional career. If you want to combine your training and instructing abilities with your passion for nursing, consider a position as a nurse educator.
The role of a nurse educator
When you embark on a career as a nurse educator, you’re making a decision to help train the next generation of health care professionals. Nurse educators combine health care knowledge and on-the-job experience with passion for teaching to pass on their expertise to new health care staff members in a clinical or academic setting. You may end up working at a community college, university, hospital or other health institution. The duties of a nurse educator typically include responsibilities such as curriculum planning, academic and clinical mentoring and evaluating students.
With the growing demand for nurses in the U.S., the demand for instructors to teach those professionals is also growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobs in postsecondary nursing education are expected to grow by 35 percent, much faster than the average across all industries. With an increasing demand, the time is right to consider a career as a nurse educator.
Becoming a nurse educator
To become a nurse educator, your first step is to work as a nursing professional in the field. The experience that you gain while working on the job is invaluable for teaching the next generation of nurses. However, your academic education is also important. A bachelor’s degree is typically a must for almost any kind of nursing position in today’s market, but to land a role in education you’ll likely need to take a step farther. The majority of nurse educator positions require at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The degree will equip you with critical knowledge of best practices and education theories that will help your students succeed. If you don’t already have a bachelor’s, consider an RN to MSN online program to streamline the process.
According to the National League for Nursing, your goal should ultimately be to obtain the Certified Nurse Educator certification to take on a faculty role. To take the test, you first need to have your registered nurse designation as well as a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing. Depending on your program, you may also need credit hours for courses in graduate-level education.