Nurse educators work in healthcare facilities and academic settings to teach nursing students. Rather than operating solely on the frontline offering direct patient care, nurse educators instead use their passion and skills to mentor and inspire the next generation of healthcare workers. This influence, combined with their management and advocacy skills, makes them one of the key voices in shaping future healthcare delivery.
How can nurses contribute to learning environments?
As the name suggests, the job role of nurse educators is geared towards educating others and helping them to gain the qualifications required to work in healthcare. Nurse educators work in a range of academic settings, including colleges and universities, where they engage directly with students to teach them important nursing theories and guide them through clinical rotations.
The National Council of State Board of Nursing (NCSBN) breaks down the role of nurse educator into three core components. They are expected to be a “director of student learning” but to go beyond a traditional lecturer dynamic by also “collaborating” with them and acting as an inspiration and “role model”. This trifecta of duties dictates many of the tasks and objectives that a nurse educator will aim to complete during any given working day in learning environments.
It also highlights the impact a nurse educator can have in educational settings. They are not just giving a single 60-minute seminar per day. They are instead more of a teacher-mentor. As part of the job, nurse educators need to collaborate, with students and other nursing staff, to bring the best out of each other to build real and lasting partnerships that can benefit everyone involved.
Research shows that the work nurse educators do in preparing students for the “human” side of nursing, which involves communication, leadership, decisiveness, and compassion, is proven to deliver better outcomes for patients. This is aided by the ongoing mentorship and guidance nursing educators offer as role models for students.
Another reason why nurse educators are at the vanguard of the healthcare industry and have a major influence on the future of nursing is their work on designing and implementing curricula for degrees and other educational programs. Nurse educators are expected to refine and overhaul courses to meet the demands of an ever-changing industry. This means they need to have both excellent clinical nursing skills and the ability to analyze and evaluate nursing trends and methodologies.
Keeping up with new and important developments and technologies that could transform healthcare is central to this, which is why many nurse educators also continue working “in the field” in some capacity. They are also expected to be always willing and ready to question established norms and ways of working, with this inquisitiveness helping to create a culture of experimentation and learning. Nurse educators are driven by the desire to improve the delivery of nurse education.
How can nurse educators contribute to hospitals?
Nurse educators can also work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities to provide education, guidance, and support to registered nurses who are looking to develop their skills. The work here is different as nurse educators are also working closely with qualified nurses and providing direct observations and feedback to improve patient care.
They begin by evaluating nurses’ capabilities and finding areas where they can improve with the view to taking on further education via courses and online programs. The evaluation might see a nurse educator determine the quality of a nurse’s person-centered care, interventions, and ability to document a patient’s symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment accurately. Nurse educators here act as leaders, guiding teams to perform better.
One way they contribute significantly to improving both the quality of care and the morale of healthcare teams is by overseeing team-building exercises and scheduling education seminars. Nurse educators are always looking at ways to develop the skill set of nurses through education, by whatever means necessary. This passion for learning and helping others can have a hugely positive impact on the provision of healthcare.
In addition to working with patient care nursing teams, nurse educators may also have to advise and collaborate with nurses who are conducting clinical research and trials, which can lead to the creation of new drugs and care pathways. This is potentially transformative for healthcare as new treatments can prevent and cure illnesses and advance patient care in new and exciting ways.
During this process, nurse educators will also meet patients to answer their questions and ensure they receive the right standard of care. This is because nurse educators are always strong patient advocates and see the person behind the treatment. Their ability to advise researchers and guide the process ensures everything works as planned.
Through all this, nurse educators are expected to follow strict legal and ethical teaching practices and maintain the clinical skills and certifications they have learned and acquired during their own education. It’s why their skills are so highly sought after by employers who expect them to complete a range of tasks and cope with a demanding and often disruptive working environment. Nurse educators may be speaking at a conference about the future of healthcare at one moment and then providing clinical support to those in need the next.
How to become a nurse educator
Nurse educators work at a high level in universities and hospitals, but the vast majority began their careers as registered nurses (RNs) and had at least several years of clinical experience caring for patients. In order to become nurse educators, RNs complete a master’s degree to gain the skills required for the role. They then develop their skills and attain further accreditations and qualifications before applying for roles as nurse educators.
If you want to pursue a career in nursing or are already a nurse and want to advance your skills, now is an excellent time to seek employment as a nurse educator due to acute staff shortages in the industry. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of job roles for registered nurses to surge 6% during the ten years through to 2031, with around 200,000 more people employed in the role. The pay is also lucrative with the median annual wage now at $77,600. With growing demand, that is likely to rise yet further.
Nurse educators are in an even better position. Employment is set to grow by 13% in the next decade. And they earn even more with salary.com stating that the average salary is now north of six figures at $105,281, with those with the most experience and skills able to command up to $117,000. For registered nurses, the earning potential of becoming a nurse educator is clear. The best way to move forward and gain the skills for this role is by applying for a Nursing MSc at a leading private university like Spring Arbor where you will be able to study while remaining part of the workforce.
It is now possible for nurses to complete an MSN Nursing Education program completely online while working full-time as a nurse. These programs are designed to develop your teaching, advocacy, and leadership skills so you can assume a role as a nurse educator after graduating. You will learn how to create and develop lessons and programs for yourself, work closely with a community of fellow students and develop speaking skills so you can advocate for others and speak to the media.
This program will also prepare you for graduation and the prospect of taking the NLN certification exam (CNE), which you will need to pass to get a license to practice in states across the country. After earning a master’s degree and nursing educator certification, you will be in an excellent position to apply for new jobs. It is also important that you continue to develop your teaching, communication, and leadership skills to boost your employability still further.
Securing a role as a nurse educator will finally allow you to make positive and potentially life-changing contributions to healthcare in hospitals, schools, colleges, and other facilities and institutions. You will be able to teach and advise students, serve as a role model and mentor and guide them toward future success while also being a leading advocate for health best practices and models through scholarly work and conferences. Nursing educators have the chance to effect change right through the healthcare system. They are the authoritative voices people look out for and listen to.
What’s more, the journey of discovery doesn’t stop immediately after graduation or securing a new job. Nurse educators can continue to grow and develop their skills and hone their speaking and presentation abilities for years and decades afterward, so they are always at the cutting edge of the healthcare industry. With skills shortages likely to persist, it cannot be overstated how important registered nurses and nurse educators are for the future of this country’s health and growth. They contribute significantly to positive healthcare and learning environments and can have a voice that resonates far beyond that in the wider world.