What Do Nurse Educators Do?

Nurse educators are experienced nurses who have earned Master of Science degrees or Ph.D.s in Nursing or Nursing Education. They work in colleges and nursing schools and perform many of the same functions as college faculty. When they work for a medical facility teaching in-service classes, their job title might be nurse educator, staff development officer, or continuing education specialist. Schools offering Health Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities

Nurse educators train nurses, from the new student nurse in a community college to the experienced nurse in a hospital or other health care facility. They must be registered nurses with clinical experience. They often have training in education theory and teaching practice from a Master of Science in Nursing or other related master's or doctoral degree program. A nurse educator's basic duties include the following:

  • Planning and teaching nursing courses
  • Advising nursing students
  • Supervising student nurses in clinical rotations in conjunction with an on-site supervisor
  • Assessing student progress
  • Serving on committees for the school
  • Keeping current with clinical skills

Important Facts About This Occupation

Entry-Level Education A master's or doctoral degree in nursing education; advanced educational degrees are also valued
Possible Careers Academic instructor, staff educator, patient educator
Certification The CNE (Certified Nurse Educator) is offered by the National League for Nursing
Common CoursesEngaged Learning, Pharmacology and Physical Assessment, Nursing Theory, Nursing Leadership
Work Environment Most nurse educators work in hospitals or for postsecondary educational institutions
Similar Occupations Registered nurse, ER nurse, critical care nurse
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% (for postsecondary teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Certification

Nurse educators who teach at the graduate level frequently have doctorate-level degrees and engage in research. They may also mentor graduate students.

Nurse educators who are RNs and hold a master's or doctoral degree in nursing education may take the certified nurse educator certification exam from the National League for Nursing. RNs with a graduate degree in nursing and a post-graduate certificate in nursing education are also allowed to take the exam, as are those who completed a graduate nursing program and have at least nine credit-hours of graduate education courses. Alternatively, RNs working as nurse educators who hold a master's or doctoral degree in nursing and have two years of teaching experience may qualify as well.

Work Environment

Many nurse educators work part-time teaching and spend the remainder of time in clinical practice. The pay is often better in nursing practice, especially for nurse educators with advanced practice certifications. As of June 2019, the median annual income provided by PayScale.com for a nurse educator was $74,324. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing instructors and teachers at the postsecondary level earned a median salary of $73,490 as of May 2018.

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