Becoming a Nurse Educator
Most students will agree: the greatest in-classroom learning experiences often come from teachers who have experience in the area they’re teaching in, or who have filled the roles the students hope to one day obtain.
With any amount of nursing experience, you become more valuable to future and potential nurses as well. When practical nursing no longer feels like your life’s calling or the best career path, becoming a nurse educator may be the best next step.
Nurse educators operate within a variety of different environments, including colleges and universities, healthcare education institutes, clinical training or educational programs, health organizations and non-profits, hospitals, senior care and skilled nursing facilities, and more. Nurse educators may work with students hoping to become nurses, practicing nurses seeking greater depth or specialization in a specific field, families and communities dealing with specialized health concerns, and those seeking professional development in other arenas.
Becoming a nurse educator first and foremost requires a level of nursing experience that varies with the setting, indicating a need for nursing credentials. Most commonly, nurse educators will be registered nurses (RNs) with at least a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in nursing or higher education. But that’s only the start of what will makes someone a successful nurse educator. To teach or educate in any capacity, a nurse educator must have some sense of pedagogical prowess, including an ability to create accessible and comprehensive lessons and sometimes full curricula. It is also important for them to have the ability to assess and evaluate learners’ understanding and progress, flexibility to adjust with the needs of the student, ability to convey complex messages in an understandable manner and other qualities—compassion, patience, energy, and courage—that help people become effective teachers.
As a nurse educator, you may find you have just as much impact on people’s lives as you would working as an RN in a clinical setting. Advocating for patient care and creating the next generation of nurses is an important job, one made all the more effective by having the right people who are passionate about nursing and nurse educating in the role.