As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, even experienced nurses and health care professionals are looking for ways to increase their marketability and career prospects. One way many nurses are doing that is by earning an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). While many nurses enter online msn programs with the intent of becoming a nurse manager, or opening the doors to greater responsibility, earning the MSN degree can also lead to opportunities to become a nurse educator.
Like many other fields, nursing requires students to complete hands-on learning and training before they can work independently with patients. Nurse educators are the instructors — both in the classroom and the clinical environment — who provide that training. They might teach a formal course at a university, for example, or provide supervision and training at the bedside, guiding new or inexperienced nurses in proper procedure. There are plenty of nursing schools in Pennsylvania and around the rest of the country for aspiring nurses to choose from.
With more people looking at nursing as a potential career and the need for nurses growing every year, the need for nurse educators is growing every year as well. If this is a field you haven’t explored, consider these five facts about becoming a nurse educator.
1. Nurse Educators Are Experienced and Well-Educated
In order to become a nurse educator, you must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and be a registered nurse before you can enroll in a training program. After gaining clinical experience, you can enroll in a graduate program; in some cases, you can earn your MSN and nurse educator credential simultaneously. If you already hold an MSN degree, you may receive credit for that education when you apply to a nurse educator program. These programs focus on teaching you the skills you need to teach nursing principles to others, including curriculum design and educational theory.
2. Certification Is Optional but Encouraged
Although nurse educators do not have to be certified by law, many universities and teaching hospitals prefer that their nurse educators hold the C-NE credential granted by the National League for Nursing. You can earn this designation with a master’s or doctorate in Nursing and at least two years of teaching experience.
3. Nurse Educators Can Specialize
Nurse educators can work with students ranging from recent high school graduates who are in their first year of nursing school, to experienced clinical nurses in a hospital setting. Beyond choosing the age or experience level of their students, though, nurse educators can also specialize in the type of nursing they teach. For example, nurse educators might teach classes in pediatric nursing, OB/GYN nursing or cardiac nursing.
4. Demand for Nurse Educators Is High
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses is expected to grow more than 25 percent between 2010 and 2020 — and accordingly, the need for people to educate those nurses will grow as well. Earning potential in this field is also high. A full-time nurse educator working at a major university as a tenure-track professor or administrator can earn over six figures; more commonly, though, nurse educators at health care facilities, small colleges or universities working full time earn an average of $60,000 per year, well above the national-average salary.
5. Nurse Educators Have Flexible Schedules
Depending on her employer, a nurse educator generally works a 35- to 40-hour week — but not always from nine to five. Some nurse educators work the night shift, teaching nurses during the evening hours, or they might work on the weekends running workshops and training sessions. Those who work in college settings might only teach a few courses each semester and have several days off each week. Not all of the work is done in the classroom though, as there are significant administration and planning responsibilities in this field, but they can often make their own schedules.
Working as a nurse educator is rewarding, especially when you see the nurses you have trained succeeding and growing in their own careers. As you plan your nursing career, explore the option of becoming a nurse educator yourself — you might just find an ideal career.
About the Author: Marnie Raymond is a registered nurse with more than 15 years of experience working in pediatrics. She recently earned her MSN from OLLU online and is pursuing a career in nursing education.
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