A nurse educator is a former or current nurse that either formally teaches at a nursing school or acts as a trainer in a health care facility. Nurse educators may teach in both clinical and classroom settings.
Nurse Educator Roles
Depending on the facility, the nurse educator will have different roles and responsibilities. All nurse educators are expected to be RNs with advanced clinical training in their specialty. Some nurse educators work part-time as both a college instructor and clinical nurse. Other nurse educators primarily work in academic settings and have titles such as staff development and continuing education specialist. Some nurse educators apply their clinical abilities and experience to design curriculum content and courses, while others primarily evaluate current health care professionals for staff development purposes. Some nurse educators work one-on-one with struggling students and practicing nurses to identify learning needs, limitations and strengths. They must create customized training plans that maximize strengths and overcome limitations.
Sample Nurse Educator Job Duties
Clinical nurse educators identify the learning needs of employees so they can share appropriate skills and resources with students. They must have a strong background and competence regarding nursing diagnosis, medications and clinical practices. Clinical nursing educators work with supervisors and employees to set improvement goals, accomplish educational objectives and provide feedback. This means that they work with inexperienced nurses to teach them basic procedures and also with experienced nurses to facilitate training regarding procedural updates or new technology. They are often called upon to provide peer and performance reviews.
Why Become a Nurse Educator?
There are many reasons for pursuing this unique career choice. Being a full-time RN in a busy hospital is a physically and mentally demanding job. After years of working 12-hour shifts with mandatory overtime, many RNs look to transition their passion for nursing into different career venues. Being a nurse educator means having a set schedule with predictable vacations because similar to teachers, nursing schools have set academic calendars. Nurse educators enjoy more schedule stability and free time during school breaks to pursue other interests. Nurse educators have the opportunity to touch the lives of tomorrow’s patients through today’s students. Many nurse educators receive immense satisfaction from helping nursing students develop lifesaving skills and knowledge.
What are the Education Requirements?
The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but most employers prefer a master’s degree in nursing. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree sometimes pursue postgraduate certificate programs to prepare them for the role of educator. All nurse educators are expected to obtain certification through the National League for Nursing (NLN). They offer the one and only Certification for Nurse Educators (CNE) exam, which covers how to facilitate learning, student development, evaluation strategies, curriculum design and self-improvement. The learning facilitation section deals with teaching strategies and communication skills, while the student development section includes questions about diversity and learning styles.
Nurse educators are instructors who train new nurses basic skills or current nurses advanced techniques. Nurse educators must be very articulate, organized and results-driven because they must continually communicate with individuals of various educational levels and ethnic backgrounds.