Nurse Educator

What Does a Nurse Educator Do?

Nurse educators teach and mentor nursing students. They oversee instruction to ensure that the education students receive is of the highest quality in order to prepare them for a career in the health care field. Working in the classroom and practice settings, they design and teach academic curriculum, as well as evaluate curriculum and revise it as necessary. They instruct courses in formal academic programs for students working toward a bachelor’s or associate degree in nursing, and also teach continuing education programs for nurses looking to advance their knowledge of nursing specialties. Nurse educators guide their students and help them identify learning needs, such as strengths and limitations, and help them to optimize their talents and decrease limitations. Just like any other type of higher education faculty, nurse educators are involved in various academic responsibilities, such as participating in research, membership in professional associations, engaging in peer review, writing grant proposals and maintaining clinical standards.

How Can I Become a Nurse Educator?

Nurse educators are highly qualified professionals who have pursued advanced levels of nursing education and clinical training. To become a nurse educator, you will first have to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and earn your nursing license by passing the NCLEX-RN. If you are interested in teaching at the graduate level, you will need to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. The program you choose must have an emphasis on nursing education or a specific health care specialty, such as cardiology, oncology, pediatrics, psychiatrics, acute care or family health. Nurse educators usually instruct clinical courses that correspond with their specialty or concentration of their graduate nursing education program. Therefore, it is important that you obtain advance experience working within a clinical specialty to develop your expertise in that area. After completing a graduate program, you then must pass a Certified Nurse Educator Examination from a professional organization like the National League of Nursing. Certification serves as a validation of expertise in nursing instruction and recognition of the nurse educator’s specialized knowledge, abilities and skills.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Nurse Educator?

As of 2010, the national faculty vacancy rate was 6.6 percent for nursing schools offering baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs, and 56 percent of schools had faculty vacancies during the 2009-2010 school year, according to a survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. With an increasing shortage of nurse educators, those interested in educational careers will experience a positive career outlook. Not only are there plenty of jobs out there, those who are qualified to fill them will most likely enjoy many benefits, such as job security. Nurse educators will also experience job mobility as nursing programs across the United States are in need of qualified faculty to educate the growing student population. Nurse advocates work in challenging and rewarding educational environments as adjunct or full time clinical or instructional nurse faculty. They can be employed in positions as clinical nurse educators, staff development officers, continuing education specialists, and college deans. According to PayScale, a nurse educator’s salary ranges from $54,437 to $77,753 annually, but salaries can vary depending on location, experience and company.