Nurse Educator Careers

Careers in Nurse Education

Nurse and educator
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Could a career as a nurse educator be a fit for you? Nurse educators are in great demand, and often the transition from nursing to teaching is a natural one for many people. If you want to impact the future of healthcare and share your passion for nursing with future clinicians, you may find nurse education to be a very rewarding field.

Nurses and teachers often share many of the same qualities. Like teaching, the nursing field also attracts those who enjoy helping other people.

Nurses and teachers tend to be nurturers by nature. Additionally, both nursing and teaching require strong interpersonal and communication skills. The overlap in skill sets from nurse to nurse educator helps to make the transition a smooth one for many who try it.

Job Responsibilities for Nurse Educators

What does a nurse educator do? According to Betty Nelson, Ph.D., RN, adjunct professor of Health Sciences in Nursing at American Sentinel University, activities include:

  • Designing curricula, orientation, and continuing education programs
  • Developing courses and study programs
  • Evaluating and documenting student learning
  • Assessing learning needs, strengths, and limitations
  • Selecting and applying teaching/learning techniques and methods
  • Evaluating and documenting the effectiveness of learning programs and education resources

Skills and Education Requirements

Most nurse educators have at least a Masters degree, and many obtain doctoral degrees to increase their pay and opportunities for advancement.

According to Nelson, a registered nurse who has over 30 years of experience as a clinician, administrator, and educator, "the skills and education required to be an effective Nurse Educator are diverse and specialized. Expert clinical skills and knowledge are required, but not sufficient. Nurse Educators must address the varying education and experience levels of their learners.

Mastering the art and science of teaching is therefore required.

Nelson lists the following skills as being the most important for nurse educators:

  • creativity
  • innovation
  • flexibility
  • excellent critical thinking and communication skills
  • skills to convey knowledge in various ways
  • advisement and counseling skills
  • strong knowledge in theories of teaching, learning, and evaluation

Salary Range for Nurse Educators

Salaries for nurse educators can vary widely based on numerous factors such as hours (full-time, part-time, etc.), experience and education level of the nurse educator, and the education level being taught. According to Payscale.com, salaries for nurse educators can range from $43,593-$88,134 annually.

Job Outlook for Nurse Educators

As with many health careers, the prospects for nurse educators are strong.

"Nurse Educators in academia and industry are in extremely high demand. Nursing schools nationwide are struggling to find new faculty to accommodate the rising interest in nursing among new students," states Nelson. She adds that nurse educators in medical industry roles are in greater demand than in healthcare facilities such as hospitals. "Industry, particularly health information technology and biotechnology, requires nurse educators to roll out products and provide staff education on their use.

Nurse Educators in clinical facilities, however, are in less demand, even though the need for them is increasing. Budget cuts often are first realized in non-direct patient care areas, and education departments are often early targets."

Nurse educators are often referred to as professors, or continuing education specialists, among other things. However, Nelson adds "Called by any name, a nurse educator is a nurse who provides educational opportunities to student nurses, practicing nurses and/or patients. Who they teach, what they teach, how they teach and where they teach are dictated by the learners they serve and the mission of their organizations.

Simply put, Nurse Educators combine their clinical abilities with teaching."

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