Despite the accelerated development of advanced health care technology and treatment regimens, seemingly preventable conditions continue to plague communities across the globe. An estimated 41 million people worldwide die from noncommunicable diseases — illnesses that develop due to behavioral, environmental, genetic and psychological risk factors — every year, according to research from the World Health Organization published in 2018.
While workable therapies exist for a significant number of these diseases, the current health care delivery environment makes it difficult for providers to equip patients, especially those in underserved populations, with the treatment they need to effectively address their conditions. However, many health care organizations are attempting to tackle the problem of noncommunicable disease through other means, such as education programs.
This is not an entirely novel idea. Health outcomes have long been linked to education levels. For example, in 2013, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that individuals with college degrees were less likely to develop diabetes and heart disease. The organization also discovered that child mortality rates correlated directly to the mothers’ levels of educational attainment. Countless other groups have uncovered similar evidence, including the National Bureau of Economic Research.
With this foundational understanding, nonprofits and health care organizations are deploying educational initiatives aimed at eradicating noncommunicable disease via awareness. A number of specially trained clinical professionals lead these operations on the ground. However, few are as valuable as nurse educators, who use their clinical insight and patient communication training to offer actionable preventive advice. Of course, this is only half of the nurse educator equation.
These nursing professionals also educate their peers, leveraging professorships and organizational education programs to equip rising colleagues with the clinical and managerial insights they need to perform effectively and facilitate positive patient outcomes. This is critical work, as future generations of nurses rely on the experience of their predecessors and shape their approaches based on the stated successes and failures of the nurses who came before them. Together, these factors make the role of nurse educator immensely desirable within the health care space.
However, it is not an easy profession to enter. Aspiring nurse educators must themselves navigate the educational system and develop the skills needed to connect with and deliver information to both patients and health care professionals. With this in mind, individuals considering the position should gain an understanding of the role itself and the prerequisites for becoming a nurse educator.
Understanding the role
While the job of nurse educator is fairly easy to understand on the surface, the profession centers on numerous functional activities that facilitate effective education. WHO outlined these critical duties, which include:
- Communicating and explaining core nursing theories using formalized adult learning techniques
- Developing and implementing effective curriculums
- Offering actionable insight into clinical nursing practices
- Collecting evidence and research
- Fostering communication, collaboration and partnership
- Adhering to ethical, legal and professional standards
- Monitoring and evaluating learner performance
- Managing instructional teams and advocating for sound clinical practices and treatment strategies
These competencies form the basis of the nurse educator career profile, empowering health care professionals to work in a variety of educational settings, from nonprofits to colleges and universities. The average nurse educator working in the U.S. earns between $53,000 and $99,000 per year functioning in these environments, according to PayScale data from 2018.
Understanding the requirements
How do aspiring nurse educators gain entrance into the profession? Graduate education is essential. Certification programs are also key, as these courses ensure that educators are up-to-date on industry standards and can effectively connect with both nursing students and patients. When it comes to graduate programs, there are numerous options. However, one specific instructional track stands out as particularly valuable for future nurse educators: the family nurse practitioner program. Here, students cultivate a wide variety of clinical and managerial skills that translate well into education environments.
Making the right choice
Among the many FNP programs across the country, the online Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner program at Bradley University is highly respected. Here, students can participate in a of variety courses covering numerous mission-critical topics. The 65-74-credit program begins with a series of core courses, many of which offer rising nurse educators knowledge they can use in the field.
For example, in Statistical Procedures, students explore statistical models and data interpretation techniques, skills that not only relate directly to nursing practice but also buttress performance monitoring and research workflows. Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Care is also important, as it takes learners through the various standards to which advanced nursing professionals must adhere when practicing in clinical settings and interfacing with patients. Nurse educators can transfer this knowledge directly to students, passing on key ethical insights that protect both patients and medical professionals.
The online MSN-FNP program at Bradley also covers clinical issues that are of great use to nurse educators. Evidence-Based Practice, for instance, offer research-based methodologies for developing patient care programs and generally navigating today’s value-driven health care space. Again, these insights can be translated from classroom to classroom. Health Informatics is another crucial course. Here, students engage with the data-based infrastructure that drives modern care delivery.
However, the online MSN-FNP program offers some clinical courses that diverge from more mainstream teachings. These sessions center on FNP practice and provide rising nurse educators with unique information that may set them apart from their peers post-graduation. For example, Advanced Pharmacology, which unfolds over two separate courses, dissects prescription practices and helps students understand how to incorporate medicine into patient treatment programs. Principles of FNP Practice, a five-part course, explores specialized clinical methodologies designed to treat specific patient groups, including children, the elderly, women and individuals with acute or chronic illnesses.
Bradley’s online MSN-FNP program closes with five clinical practicums that enable learners to fine-tune their skills in actual, overseen by qualified preceptors. In all, the instructional track provides the necessary knowledge to prepare ascendant nursing professionals for success in the education field.
Contact Bradley University today to learn more about the online MSN-FNP program.