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Nurse educators can work in clinics and hospitals.

Three reasons to consider a career as a nurse educator

Date: May 11, 2017

Upon completion of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program, you will be eligible to pursue a number of career paths. For example, as detailed on Bradley University’s online MSN webpage, an advanced degree in nursing can prepare you for a career as a nurse manager, a role that involves taking charge of a team of nurses and ensuring that patient care is delivered to the highest standards. An MSN also can set you on the path to executive roles, such as nurse director and nurse executive, as well as prepare you for a rewarding role in academia, where you can work as a nurse educator, teaching and inspiring the nurses of tomorrow.

What is a nurse educator?
According to nursing academics Deborah Lindell, Debra Hagler and Kathleen Poindexter in an article for American Nurse Today, a journal of the American Nurses Association, nurse educators typically are found in a college setting. The role’s objective is to teach future nurses about every aspect of the profession. In some cases, nurse educators also will conduct academic research. These professionals can work in either a tenure or non-tenure track capacity.

Nurse educators who secure tenure-track roles will work toward achieving tenure status within an educational organization. To achieve tenure, professionals must conduct research and attain certain academic goals. Non-tenure track nurse educators, however, tend to work as an adjunct or non-tenure faculty, fulfilling teaching contracts only.

As with academic positions across the spectrum of disciplines, various titles are assigned to nurse educators, contingent on their level of education, experience, expertise and so on. Lindell et al. explained that it is common for fledgling nurse educators to begin their careers as instructors, with many institutions offering room for promotion to an assistant, associate or full professor.

In an article for the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, Barbara K. Penn, Laurie Dodge Wilson and Robert Rosseter noted that to teach, nursing professionals need a minimum of a graduate degree, as well as extensive experience in the field. A doctoral degree often is helpful to attain tenure-track positions. Indeed, Penn et al. reported on statistics from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, which found that doctoral degrees are essentially a prerequisite for a majority — some 86 percent — of jobs at institutions that confer baccalaureate degrees. The source elaborated, however, that expected qualifications for candidates can vary between employers and across state lines.

What does the role entail?
Nurse educators tend to have many duties, the most typical of which were detailed by Lindell et al.:

  • teaching nursing students
  • conducting research
  • publishing scholarship
  • serving as an academic advisor or advisor to a student organization
  • contributing to nursing organizations, both outside and within their institution

Lindell et al. emphasized, however, that the role’s responsibilities vary, contingent on a nurse educator’s level of experience, tenure-track status and the expectations of the organization for which he or she works. For example, a young nurse educator may work as an instructor at a health care organization, focusing primarily on instructing classes, whereas as an associate professor or professor of nursing education may strike a balance between classroom teaching and academic research.

Nurse educators can teach classes online.

Why become a nurse educator?
Of the many reasons to pursue a role as a nurse educator, below are some of the most compelling rationales:

  1. You can help shape the next generation of nurses
    A primary reason many professionals enter education is to make a positive difference in their students’ lives. You can derive immense personal and professional satisfaction from imparting the knowledge you have acquired over the course of your career onto the next generation of nurses. As stated in an article published by Scrubs magazine, teaching student nurses means that you are helping shape the future of the field by ensuring that students grasp key concepts and best practices, graduating as competent professionals ready to make a tangible difference in patients’ lives.
  2. You can contribute to nursing research
    According to Penn et al., nurse educators who secure university teaching positions often are compelled to work on projects outside of their teaching responsibilities, including conducting research, either independently or with other faculty members. Having your research published means that you have contributed to the discipline, which again can be considerably rewarding, both professionally and personally.
  3. You may be afforded flexibility in terms of teaching location
    If you are not interested in teaching on a campus, you have other options to work as a nurse educator. As Lindell et al. detailed, nurse educators can be found in an array of settings, including clinics and hospitals, where hands-on education can be provided. Furthermore, the option of teaching classes remotely is available now, thanks to the proliferation of online degree programs. While many nurse educators will teach in all these locations, the flexibility demonstrates that you don’t have to spend all your time teaching in a classroom.

Consider Bradley University
If a career as a nurse educator appeals to you, an effective first step on that road is applying to Bradley University’s online MSN program. Designed with working professionals in mind, the program’s online format allows you to study at a time that best complements your busy professional life. To learn more, click here.