Creating The Next Generation of Nurses: The Nursing Educator

Nurse educator

Everyone is discussing the nursing shortage, and how desperately those with nursing skills are needed throughout the country. Nursing programs are attempting to produce enough new nurses to fill that shortage, but who is teaching these fresh young faces? Nurse educators—and the next area anticipating a shortage in the field of nursing is right there in the nursing school.

So what do Nursing Educators do? They combine their clinical expertise with a passion for teaching, and turn that into a rich and rewarding career. These nurses, who work both in the classroom and the practice setting, are responsible for preparing and mentoring current and future generations of nurses. Nurse educators play a pivotal role in strengthening the nursing workforce, serving as role models and providing leadership. Without Nurse Educators, well, there will be no new nurses.

Being a Nurse Educator is a big responsibility, since they are responsible for designing, implementing, evaluating and revising academic and continuing education programs for nurses. These include formal academic programs that lead to a degree or certificate, or more informal continuing education programs designed to meet individual learning needs.

Nurse educators are critical players in assuring quality educational experiences that prepare the nursing workforce for a diverse, ever-changing health care environment. They are the leaders who document the outcomes of educational programs and guide students through the learning process.

Of course, even before they become Nurse Educations, nurses already are teachers. Nurses teach patients and their families how to manage their illness or injury, including post-treatment home care needs, diet and exercise programs, and self-administration of medication and physical therapy. Nurses mentor and prepare new graduates and new hire staff, as well as develop and implement ongoing continuing education activities within clinical settings. Nurses also combine their clinical expertise and passion for teaching others in thousands of ways every time they work. Nurse Educators make use of that same clinical expertise and passion for teaching to guide and shape the future of the nursing profession, one student at a time.

A career in nursing education will provide you with the opportunity to teach in programs that prepare licensed practical nurses (LPN) and registered nurses (RN) for entry into practice positions. In addition, nursing faculty teach in graduate programs at the Master’s and doctoral level which prepare advanced practice nurses, nurse educators, nursing administrators, nurse researchers, and leaders in complex healthcare and educational organizations.

Educational Requirements

Nurse Educators who teach in LPN, associate degree and baccalaureate programs are usually required to hold a Master’s degree in nursing. Most baccalaureate and higher degree programs require a minimum of a Master’s degree, and many prefer a nursing doctorate for full-time teaching positions. Additionally, many nurse educators have a clinical specialty background that is often blended with coursework in education. Nurses may complete a post-Master’s certificate in education to complement their clinical expertise if they choose to enter a faculty role.

A career in nursing education provides you with the opportunity to teach in programs that prepare licensed practical nurses (LPN) and registered nurses (RN) for entry into practice positions. In addition, nursing faculty teach in graduate programs at the Master’s and doctoral level which prepare advanced practice nurses, nurse educators, nursing administrators, nurse researchers, and leaders in complex healthcare and educational organizations.

Salary and Job Prospects

Salaries vary greatly depending on rank, education, and institution. Nursing educator salaries are expected to steadily increase as the career options for qualified nurses are becoming more competitive for employer recruitment.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing instructors holding a doctoral degree earned an average of $48,084, and those with a master’s degree earned $43,488. Among assistant professors, those with doctorates earned $54,128, and those without doctorates earned $47,092. Associate professors with doctorates had an average salary of $63,172, and those without a doctorate averaged $51,195.

Given the growing shortage of nurse educators, the career outlook is strong for nurses interested in teaching careers. Nursing schools nationwide are struggling to find new faculty to accommodate the rising interest in nursing among new students. The shortage of nurse educators may actually enhance career prospects since it affords a high level of job security, and provides opportunities for nurses to maintain dual roles as educators and direct patient care providers. Salaries are expected to rise to make Nursing Educator positions more attractive in the coming years, especially as the Nursing Educator shortage grows. Long-term job prospects as a nursing teacher are excellent.