How Can I Become a Clinical Nurse Educator?

Explore the career requirements for clinical nurse educators. Get the facts about education and certification requirements as well as job duties to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Health Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Clinical Nurse Educator?

A clinical nurse educator is a postsecondary nursing teacher who teaches students how to perform clinical procedures and provide basic patient care. They normally work in hospitals or clinics, and may instruct nursing aides or other nursing students. Like all postsecondary teachers, they must be familiar with the curriculum they teach and prepare lesson plans and deliver training to their students. They may use tests and practical demonstrations to assess each student and ensure they understand what's been taught.

Degree Required Master's degree
Licensure Nursing license
Additional Training Required Significant clinical experience working as nurse and post-graduate training as nurse educator
Key Responsibilities Teach patient care and act as mentor to nursing students, design and implement relevant and updated curriculum, and provide nursing students with career advice and support
Job Growth (2014-2024) 19% (for all postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers)*
Median Salary (2015) $67,480 (for all postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Is the Job Description of a Clinical Nurse Educator?

Your job as a clinical nurse educator will be to teach and mentor nursing students in clinical settings, such as hospitals, health agencies and healthcare facilities. Your responsibilities could include designing curricula, creating tests and setting guidelines for your class. Additional duties involve evaluating students, offering extra help and keeping student records.

Clinical nurse educators commonly specialize in a specific area of nursing. You may concentrate in an area where you have the most experience, knowledge or interest. Some specialty areas include cardiology, oncology, pediatrics, geriatrics and mental health.

What Education or Training Do I Need?

You need to have at least a bachelor's degree in nursing, plus post-baccalaureate training as a nurse educator, to qualify as a clinical nurse educator. In addition to a bachelor's degree, training programs require you to be a registered nurse, which involves passing the National Council Licensure Exam, also known as the NCLEX-RN. Most nurse educator programs also expect you to have clinical experience as a nurse. Some schools may base this on the requirements of the national licensing exam or on state regulations regarding nurse educators.

Nurse educator programs are usually master's degree, doctoral degree or post-graduate certificate programs. According to Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow (www.nursesource.org), holding a bachelor's degree can qualify you to work as a nurse educator in clinical settings, but some institutions prefer an applicant with a master's degree. You may study such topics as leadership roles, research methods and curriculum development. The programs also include clinical work and a teaching practicum.

Where Can I Find Certification?

You may pursue voluntary certification through the National League for Nursing (NLN). The NLN administers the Certified Nurse Educator designation, which demonstrates to potential employers that you meet specific education and experience requirements (www.nln.org). You'll need to have a master's or doctoral degree in nursing with at least two years of experience as a nurse educator to qualify for the exam. The multiple-choice test, comprised of 150 questions, covers such subjects as assessment strategies, curriculum design and learner development. To maintain your certification, you'll need to get re-certified every five years.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Students interested in the nursing profession might also consider roles as advanced practice nurses. After becoming licensed as RNs, these professionals pursue master's degrees to study the procedures used in women's nursing, family nursing, psychiatric nursing or another specialty area.

Another option is to prepare for a career as a health educator. These professionals train community health workers and oversee the implementation of educational programs designed to help individuals improve their overall wellbeing. They typically need a bachelor's degree, though some positions require graduate education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Capella University

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  • Concordia University Portland

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