Nurse educators combine clinical expertise and a passion for teaching into rich and rewarding careers. These professionals, who work 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 the leadership needed to implement evidence-based practice.
Nurse educators 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
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
are prepared at the master's or doctoral level and practice as faculty
in colleges, universities, hospital-based schools of nursing or
technical schools, or as staff development educators in health care
facilities. They work with recent high school graduates studying
nursing for the first time, nurses pursuing advanced degrees and
practicing nurses interested in expanding their knowledge and skills
related to care of individuals, families and communities.
often express a high degree of satisfaction with their work. They
typically cite interaction with students and watching future nurses
grow in confidence and skill as the most rewarding aspects of their
jobs. Other benefits of careers in nursing education include access
to cutting-edge knowledge and research, opportunities to collaborate
with health professionals, an intellectually stimulating workplace
and flexible work scheduling.
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 securityand provides opportunities for nurses to maintain dual roles as educators and direct patient care providers.
A nurse educator is a registered nurse who has advanced education, including advanced clinical training in a health care specialty. Nurse educators serve in a variety of roles that range from adjunct (part-time) clinical faculty to dean of a college of nursing. Professional titles include Instructional or Administrative Nurse Faculty, Clinical Nurse Educator, Staff Development Officer and Continuing Education Specialist among others.
Nurse educators combine their clinical abilities with responsibilities related to:
courses/programs of study
and guiding learners
the outcomes of the educational process.
also help students and practicing nurses identify their learning
needs, strengths and limitations, and they select learning opportunities
that will build on strengths and overcome limitations.
to teaching, nurse educators who work in academic settings have
responsibilities consistent with faculty in other disciplines, including:
in scholarly work (e.g., research)
in professional associations
at nursing conferences
to the academic community through leadership roles
in peer review
- Writing grant
A growing number of nurse educators teach part-time while working in a clinical setting. This gives them the opportunity to maintain a high degree of clinical competence while sharing their expertise with novice nurses. Nurse educators who work in practice settings assess the abilities of
nurses in practice and collaborate with them and their nurse managers to design learning experiences that will continually strengthen those abilities.
In most instances,
nurse educators teach clinical courses that correspond with their
area(s) of clinical expertise and the concentration area of their
graduate nursing education program. Those considering a teaching
career may choose from dozens of specialty areas, including acute
care, cardiology, family health, oncology, pediatrics and psychiatric/mental
In addition, nurse educators teach in areas that have evolved as "specialties" through personal experience or personal study, such as leadership or assessment. The true specialty of a nurse educator is his or her expertise in teaching/learning, outcomes assessment, curriculum development and advisement/guidance of the learner.
Nurse educators need to have excellent communication skills, be creative, have a solid clinical background, be flexible and possess excellent critical thinking skills. They also need to have a substantive knowledge base in their area(s) of instruction and have the skills to convey that knowledge in a variety of ways to those who are less expert.
Nurse educators need to display a commitment to lifelong learning, exercise leadership and be concerned with the scholarly development of the discipline. They should have a strong knowledge base in theories of teaching, learning and evaluation; be able to design curricula and programs that reflect sound educational principles; be able to assess learner needs; be innovative; and enjoy teaching.
Those who practice in academic settings also need to be future-oriented so they can anticipate the role of the nurse in the future and adapt curriculum and teaching methods in response to innovations in nursing science and ongoing changes in the practice environment. They need advisement and counseling skills, research and other scholarly skills, and an ability to collaborate with other disciplines to plan and deliver a sound educational program.
Nurse educators who practice in clinical settings need to anticipate changes and expectations so they can design programs to prepare nurses to meet those challenges. They need to be able to plan educational programs for staff with various levels of ability, develop and manage budgets, and argue for resources and support in an environment where education is not the primary mission.
who care for patients in any setting engage in patient teaching,
nurse educators typically practice in the following settings:
- Senior colleges
- Junior or
schools of nursing
- Home care
- Online using
distance learning technology.
Within the school
setting, there are as many options as there are schools. Educators
may teach on a rural, suburban or urban campus; at a major private
university or local community college; as part of a certificate
program in a teaching hospital; or as a research coordinator in
a doctoral program.
working in academic settings typically are on a nine-month appointment
(e.g., September through May). Opportunities to teach in the summer
often are available, and this is compensated separately. Salaries
vary greatly depending on rank, education (e.g., master's or doctorate
degree), and institution type (e.g., a large academic health center
vs. a small liberal arts college). The most lucrative positions
are available to doctorally-prepared faculty in public nursing institutions
In 2002, full-time
nurse educators with a nine-month appointment earned salaries ranging
between $25,000 and $100,000+. On average, full-time nurse faculty
with a doctoral degree earned $61,000 in 2002-2003 while faculty
with a master's degree earned $49,000.
For those devoted
to a career in nurse education, employment in a leadership and administrative
role may be of interest. Many nursing school deans can earn more
than $100,000 in a calendar year. In 2002-2003, the typical associate
dean with a doctorate earned between $93,442 and $111,036 while
assistant deans, on average, earned between $71,857 and $92,469.
At a minimum,
nurse educators who work in academic settings must hold a master's
degree. In order to be promoted to the upper academic
ranks (e.g., associate professor and professor) and to be granted
tenure, academic faculty typically must hold an earned doctoral
degree. Nurse educators who work in clinical settings must hold
the minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing, but more and more
institutions are requiring the master's degree for such appointments.
degree and post-graduate certificate programs are available to prepare
nurses specifically for the educator role. These programs, which
are sometimes offered online, focus on the skills needed to prepare
advanced practice nurses to teach, including instruction on the
learning process, curriculum development, student counseling, program
evaluation, and the principles of adult education.
Dozens of baccalaureate-to-PhD
programs also are available for nurses prepared with a bachelor
of science in nursing degree looking to pursue doctoral preparation.
These programs, which include intense clinical experiences, attempt
to move students through graduate level study at an accelerated
and private sources of funding exist to assist students looking
to pursue graduate nursing education. The recently passed Nurse
Reinvestment Act includes a student loan repayment program for nurses
who agree to serve in faculty roles after graduation. Similar programs
also are available through the National Health Service Corps and
the Bureau of Health Professions.
Association of Colleges of Nursing
One Dupont Circle, #530
Washington, DC 20036
Society for Training and Development
1640 King Street, Box 1443
Alexandria, VA 22313
League for Nursing
61 Broadway, 33rd Floor
New York, NY 10006
Nursing Staff Development Organization
7794 Grow Drive
Pensacola, FL 32534
Nurses in Staff Development
Journal of Continuing
Education in Nursing
Journal of Nursing
Journal of Professional