How to Become a Nurse Educator
Nursing is an ideal career path for those who want to help others and make a difference, but it can be challenging, stressful, and strenuous. COVID-19 and the flux of patients put the entire healthcare system to the test, and nurses were the ones picking up the slack. It’s no wonder burnout rates were higher during the pandemic than ever before. If you’re experiencing burnout and are considering quitting nursing, stop. Many great career paths allow you to use your nursing experience proactively, including educating the next generation of nurses.
The State of Nurse Education
A shortage of nurse educators has limited the number of new nurses that can be trained. To put this into perspective, nursing schools turned away 91,938 qualified applicants in 2021 due to the lack of teaching staff. Of the nurse educators currently working, over 70% of them are over the age of 45 and approaching retirement. The demand for new educators has never been higher, making it an excellent choice for nurses transitioning out of healthcare.
The Role of the Nurse Educator
Nurse educators train students, design the curriculum, facilitate and manage group discussions, supervise clinical training, and advise students on any research projects they’re conducting. This role is the same as any other higher education position, with one exception. Nurse educators must have worked as a nurse before moving into an educator position.
There are many different roles in nursing education, but the job has a good outlook. It’s estimated that by 2031 nursing education roles will increase by 21%. Salaries will vary massively depending on employer, state, and experience. It isn’t impossible for nurse educators to earn six-figure salaries, though this will depend entirely on the role. States like California, for example, traditionally pay higher wages for nurses in all positions.
Traits You’ll Need to Become a Nurse Educator
Being a nurse educator is very similar to being a leader. You must confidently lead a classroom, explain information clearly, and stay organized throughout the year. Not everyone is ready to be an educator, but if you have a passion for it and want to use your nursing background, there is no better approach. Like every new role in nursing, you will need to go back and earn another degree.
Education Track for Nurse Educators
To become a nurse educator, traditionally, you will need to earn a doctorate. While this is still an option, the demand for nurse educators has seen the emergence of a new degree option: the MSN in nurse education. There are reasons to take both degree options, depending on your needs.
· The MSN Nursing Education Program
This new MSN program is designed to give students the learning opportunities they need to transition into nursing education successfully. You’ll learn how to develop an impactful nursing curriculum for students, research and further nursing education, and teach while considering economic, psychosocial, cultural, and environmental factors.
Visit academicpartnerships.uta.edu/programs/master-of-science-in-nursing-education.aspx to get more information on how to obtain your degree in nursing education. Like other MSN programs, you’ll also need to complete clinical experience. To graduate, you’ll need to complete 90 non-precepted or group training clinical hours and 135 precepted or one-on-one clinical hours.
· A Ph.D.
The other approach to nursing education is to earn a full doctorate. This is the classic approach used by most educators in higher education. Do note that there is a difference between a Ph.D. in nursing and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. The DNP is similar to an MBA in that it trains you in a more hands-on approach, while the Ph.D. is more theoretical and requires you to create your research project.
Becoming a Nurse Educator
Earning your qualification only makes you eligible for the role; it does not guarantee you a spot. However, don’t worry, as there are more roles than you think, so you have plenty to apply for upon graduating. You can work as a clinical instructor, lecturer, simulator lab instructor, or behind the scenes for a nursing university. Apply for all roles you qualify for, and then use your network to establish yourself in the desired position. You want to be happy in your career, so do plenty of research while studying to find your desired position.