Why Now Is a Great Time to Work as a Nurse Educator

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If you’re currently a registered nurse, you’ve probably got first-hand experience of the nursing shortage in the US. The nursing shortage isn’t just impacting the patients – it is also having an effect on nursing who are currently working in the healthcare industry, who may feel that they are in a position where they need to work harder to ensure that patients are provided with the right care and may not always have access to the support and resources that they need to thrive in their role. 

The shortage of nurses has been caused by a range of different issues. One of the main contributors is the aging population. Patients are getting older and as a result, are naturally in need of more healthcare services. In addition to this, the aging population is also impacting nurses, with more nurses now reaching retirement age or retiring early because they are unable to keep up with the physical and mental demands of this job. However, the shortage of nurses is not a result of fewer people looking to get into this role. 

As one of the most rewarding, caring career options in the world where professionals can make a real difference and have huge opportunities to progress and advance in their careers, as many people as ever want to get into nursing – but the problem lies with a lack of educators to provide them with the knowledge and foundation that they need. The shortage of nurse educators in the US is leading to a prolonging of the shortage of registered nurses, with thousands of qualified applicants turned away from nursing schools on a yearly basis due to a lack of faculty to teach them. 

If you are a registered nurse and feel ready for a change in your career, there’s never been a better time than right now to consider training to become a nurse educator. After the COVID19 pandemic, nurses are feeling more overwhelmed and burned out than ever before, and this has led to an increase in nurses looking for ways to change their career to something less demanding while still being able to make a difference to others and have a positive impact on healthcare. When considering your next steps as a nursing professional after the pandemic, becoming a nurse educator is an ideal choice of career since nurse educators are needed to reduce the nursing shortage and ensure that if the events of 2020 were to be repeated, we’ll have enough nurses to take on the challenge this time around. 

Good nurse educators are always going to be needed throughout the healthcare system, as healthcare is a very complex field that requires all nursing students to get a thorough and correct education on using the best practices and keeping their knowledge up to date consistently. Currently, the demand for nurse educators is higher than ever, and those with the appropriate qualifications can find work quickly and easily. 

Why Become a Nurse Educator?

There are many reasons why it’s worth considering working as a nurse educator if you are a registered nurse looking for a change. Some of the main reasons to consider getting into this role include:

  • High Demand:

The shortage of registered nurses is directly linked to the fact that nursing schools and colleges around the country do not have enough nurse educators to teach enough nursing students to fill the gaps and reduce the shortage. As a result, the demand for nurse educators is incredibly high wherever you go. 

  • Make a Difference:

As a nurse educator, you are going to be a part of the driving force between getting new nurses prepared for this profession. Whether you’ve found yourself feeling frustrated in the role of a registered nurse due to the educational levels that new nurses have when they join the profession or simply want to be in a position where you have a responsibility to improve education in nursing, this is certainly a role where you can continue making a difference. 

  • Slower Pace:

For some registered nurses, a decision to work as a nurse educator is due to wanting to take things slower. While you’ll still be working in patient-facing settings, it can be an ideal role for reducing the demands on you as a professional since you will be teaching student nurses how to deal with the situations that arise in this job rather than being responsible for handling them yourself. 

Qualifying as a Nurse Educator:

How does a nurse become a nurse educator? To get into this role, you will ideally be a registered nurse with some years of experience behind you, having built up a lot of knowledge that you will be able to share with others. Most nursing schools and other organizations are looking to hire nurse educators with nursing experience, so while you may be able to get an advanced degree if you are new to the field of nursing, be prepared to continue in your career as a registered nurse for some time to build up your experience before you can start educating student nurses. 

To get the qualifications that you will need to become a nurse educator, you will usually need to have a BSN. If you have an associate’s degree in nursing, this may not be enough to get onto an MSN, DNP, or PhD nursing program. The PhD in nursing program available from Wilkes University requires applicants to have gained an MSN with a minimum GPA requirement of 3.3. Most schools will require you to have gained a BSN before you will be able to enroll on an MSN program. 

You can become a nurse educator after getting your MSN, but if you want to move up the ranks and qualify to teach more advanced nursing students, the DNP or PhD in nursing is a better choice offering more teaching opportunities as a result. 

Basic Requirements to Work as a Nurse Educator:

Once you have a BSN, you will have more opportunities to get the qualifications that you need to eventually work as a nurse educator. Most of the time, nurse educator roles will expect you to have a minimum of an MSN to teach students who are getting their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in nursing. Getting a DNP or PhD in nursing will qualify you to teach not only bachelor’s and associate’s degree students but also students who are working towards advanced qualifications such as their MSN or postgraduate nursing certificates. 

To complete the education that you need and get into the role of a nurse educator, you will typically be required to have a BSN, an active nursing license, and several years of experience working in the field of nursing. To be a better applicant for advanced degree programs you may also want to consider gaining more teaching, education, and mentorship opportunities within nursing as part of your career, such as volunteering to act as a mentor to student nurses undertaking clinical placements in your workplace. 

Getting a License to Work as a Nurse Educator:

Once you’ve gained the qualifications needed to work in this role, you’ll need to get a license and certificate designed to allow you to work in your state as a nurse educator. The certifications and licensing that you will need may depend on your choice of future employer and the nursing education field that you want to get into. For the most part, nurse educators will be required by the majority of nursing schools and other healthcare organizations to hold a Certified Academic Clinical Nurse Educator or Certified Nurse Educator certificate which can be obtained from the National League for Nursing. 

Skills Needed to Succeed as a Nurse Educator:

Many of the skills that you have used to work in a successful nursing career are going to be the same skills required to succeed in the role of a nurse educator. In this new role, your main responsibility is going to be teaching nursing students. You might be working with people who are completely new to the nursing role or teaching advanced nursing students who are already registered nurses that want to improve their career opportunities. The skills that you’ll need to be successful in this role include:

  • Communication Skills:

As a registered nurse, you have likely developed a range of good communication skills that can take you through to a career as a nurse educator. Nurse educators need to be able to teach a variety of healthcare subjects that will often involve complex medical and scientific definitions and terms. Throughout the lectures and lessons that you give, you will need to be able to clearly communicate often complex information to your students in a way that is clear and easy for them to understand. In addition to this, nurse educators also need to have excellent active listening skills to ensure that they can clearly respond to communication and follow-up questions from their students. 

  • Leadership Skills:

Whether you’re teaching entry-level nursing students just starting out in this career or providing an education to registered nurses who are getting an advanced qualification, your success as a nurse educator will often depend on the strength of your leadership skills. Whether you’re teaching in a classroom setting or mentoring students during clinical practice experience, a good nurse educator should be an individual who has strong skills when it comes to leading by example and inspiring students to work at their best while offering support, advice, and guidance when it is needed. A nurse educator will often take on various leadership roles throughout their career. For example, when working as a nurse educator, you may also be working as a department manager or executive in a hospital or other clinical setting, where you will be expected to successfully take on a wide range of leadership tasks such as directing teams or making administrative decisions. 

  • Interpersonal Skills:

Working as a nurse educator is not all about standing in front of classes and teaching. The role of a nurse educator can be very hands-on and will sometimes require you to interact with various groups of people on a daily basis including your students, other healthcare professionals, physicians, academic faculty, patients, and family members. As a nurse educator, strong interpersonal skills are necessary for you to be able to successfully communicate and work together effectively with people from all walks of life and a variety of different backgrounds. To be successful in this role you will need to be sensitive to the needs of different people and have a strong ability to quickly read situations and determine when they are going well or when strategies need to be put in place to reduce the risk of complications. 

  • Knowledge and Expertise:

Nurse educators are professionals who are responsible for teaching and preparing the next generation of nurses for this career role. It’s expected that a nurse educator has a high standard of expertise and knowledge, and to get into this role, students are required to complete extensive education and training programs including a BSN, earning an MSN, and passing the various exams to gain the licenses to work as a nurse at each level. 

  • Professionalism:

Since nurse educators are expected to lead by example and the very nature of nursing means that working in this role will often involve unexpected challenges and developments, a nurse educator must be an individual who can set a high standard of professionalism for students to follow at all times. While working in this role, you will need to be able to easily switch between working in both relaxed and high-pressure environments. Whether you are working in the classroom, hospital, or another clinical setting, it’s crucial that nurse educators can set a shining example of professionalism, respect, and ethics to their students. 

More nurse educators are desperately needed to teach new nurses and reduce the shortage of these professionals. If you are a registered nurse and looking for a change of pace in your career, there’s never been a better time to get into this role.