Nurse Educator

What is a ‘Nurse Educator’?

A nurse educator is a registered nurse who has advanced education and advanced clinical training in a healthcare specialty. Typically, he or she teaches and develops nursing and nursing-related courses in the curriculum of nursing schools. In an academic setting, nurse educators serve in a variety of roles ranging from part-time clinical faculty to dean of a college of nursing.

Alternatively, a nurse educator may work in training the medical and other health care personnel of hospitals and clinics or in educating the public on certain health care subjects.

What Do They Do?

Nurse educators serve as faculty members in nursing schools and teaching hospitals, sharing their knowledge and skills to prepare the next generation of nurses for effective practice.

They develop lesson plans, teach courses, evaluate educational programs, oversee students’ clinical practice and serve as role models for their students. They may teach general courses or focus on areas of specialization, such as geriatric nursing, pediatric nursing or nursing informatics.

In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, nurse educators help design continuing education and advocacy programs for the staff and the public, facilitate training, evaluations, and in the development of manuals, training guides, procedures, and systems.

Where They Work

Nurse educators generally work in academic settings at nursing schools, community colleges, and technical schools. Some also work in healthcare settings as staff development officers or clinical supervisors.

Much of a nurse educator’s day is spent in an office or a classroom, preparing for classes, giving lectures, advising students, grading papers, attending faculty meetings, handling administrative work and keeping up with current nursing knowledge.

Nurse educators may alternatively work in medical centers, general and specialty hospitals, the federal US Centers for Disease Control and other non-academic institutions where they develop, coordinate and execute health and nursing-related educational programs. They may also be found in some media and web stations supervising the broadcast of online health education features.

How Much They Make

In the United States, according to PayScale, the average pay for a nurse educator is $69,109 per year. Compensation generally depends on the extent of clinical and teaching experience. Moreover, nurse educators who work only during the September-May academic year will be paid their annual salary over those nine months only, with the optional summer teaching being compensated separately.

Salaries vary depending on rank, educational attainment, experience in clinical settings, and institution type. The most lucrative teaching positions are available to those with doctorate degrees in the faculty of public nursing institutions

How to Become a ‘Nurse Educator’

Before you can be an academic nursing instructor, you must at minimum be a registered nurse with a valid license and several years of work experience. Nurse educators who will teach at LPN/LVN programs should at least hold a BSN degree while those who will teach courses for the RN programs are usually expected to be Masters degree holders. Nurse educators who teach Masters degree programs should themselves have Masters or higher academic degrees.

The American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) consider a doctoral degree to be the appropriate credential for a career as a nurse educator at the highest level in a college or university. Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree can take anywhere from one to four years to complete while a Ph.D. typically takes four years.

What Else Can You Expect?

Presently there is a shortage of nurses in the U.S. to meet the needs of the aging baby boomer population. However, there is an even more critical shortage of nurse educators to train the next generation of nursing students.

The National League for Nursing (NLN) reported that nursing schools need to increase their enrollment by approximately 30-percent to meet the projected national demand. However, the current full-time nursing school faculty members are only equipped to handle only about 50-percent of that ideal student population.

The shortage in nurse educators is expected to get worse as the “higher compensation in clinical and private-sector settings is luring current and potential nurse educators away from teaching,” according to AACN. The average salary of a nurse practitioner, across settings and specialties, is $91,310. By contrast, the average salary for a masters-prepared Assistant Professor in schools of nursing was $73,633.

What kind of Professional Nursing Organizations are associated with this profession?

Professional organizations associated with nurse educators include AACN, NLN, Professional Nurse Educators Group (PNEG), American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), and National Nursing Staff Development Organization (NNSDO).

Related Careers Within Nursing

Related careers within the nursing profession which a qualified nurse educator may also consider include: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Charge Nurse, Clinical Nurse Manager, Nursing Manager, Registered Nurse Supervisor, Nursing Management Practitioner, Research Nurse, among others.