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Nurse Educator Programs

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Nurse educators combine their clinical experiences with teaching skills in order to help train other nurses in academic, medical, or other professional settings. Nurse educators may teach in associate or bachelor's degree nursing programs, or they can work to provide continuing education to current nurses. They can also help evaluate or create curriculum content for nursing programs. Nurse educators make a vital contribution to health care by helping to equip nurses with the knowledge and tools they need to provide patients with the highest quality care possible.

As the demand for nurses continues to expand, the demand for nurse educators is likely to increase as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for registered nurses are projected to expand by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020 (bls.gov, 2012), and a surge in nurses will require a greater number of skilled nurse educators to train them.

While there are multiple paths to becoming a nurse educator, earning certification may make it easier to find the highest-paying jobs. The National League for Nursing offers a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) credential to those who pass its exam, and the American Nurses Credentialing Corporation grants a Nursing Professional Development Board Certification. Reputable and accredited nurse educator degree programs, some of which may be available online or in traditional campus-based formats, should prepare graduates to earn both credentials.

If you are interested in a career as a nurse educator, you might want to consider the following.

Education Programs

Nurse educators generally begin their careers as nurses before transitioning into an instructor role. There are multiple possible paths to becoming a nurse educator, but a typical progression may be as follows:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree in nursing and gain clinical experience as an RN

2. Apply to and enroll in a nurse educator program to earn a Master of Science in Nursing Education (MSNE) degree

3. Complete both theoretical and practicum components to receive an MSNE degree

4. Apply for jobs as a nurse educator at community colleges, universities, hospitals or elsewhere

5. Pursue a career in teaching at the associate or bachelor's degree levels, conduct research, educate nurses as part of professional development programs and more

6. After two years of full-time teaching, study for and pass examinations to earn certification as a National League for Nursing Certified Nurse Educator to increase professional standing

Nurse educator programs vary, but since a firm background in nursing is assumed, most focus on developing students' skills as educators and strengthening their leadership abilities in classroom or professional development settings. The following subject areas may be covered:

  • Nursing Education Policy
  • Instructional Technologies
  • Educational Philosophies and Theories of Learning
  • Teaching and Learning Strategies
  • Curriculum Development and Evaluation

Certification and Licensure

Certification isn't required to work as a nurse educator, but becoming certified as a National League of Nursing Certified Nurse Educator may increase the job opportunities and quality of jobs available. The certification requires passing an exam and two years of full-time experience at an academic institution. A master's degree is usually required to become a nurse educator. Clinical and teaching experience may also be needed, check with the National League for Nursing for requirements.

Work Environment and Typical Responsibilities

The day-to-day responsibilities of a nurse educator will vary depending on the type of position one holds. A successful nurse educator will maintain a focus on teaching, whether at the associate or bachelor's level, as part of an academic nursing program or a professional development program for current nurses.

Because of the flexibility an academic schedule may allow, nurse educators may also take on extracurricular responsibilities, such as seeing patients or consulting for health care providers, to gain clinical experience while earning their degree.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

States with the highest employment levels for nurse educators, May 2012:

State

Employment

Annual mean wage

Texas

3,920

$63,180

Ohio

3,650

$62,390

New York

3,480

$78,420

California

3,300

$89,060

Pennsylvania

3,200

$75,500

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

Top-paying states for nurse educators, May 2012:

State

Employment

Annual mean wage

Maryland

830

$89,560

California

3,300

$89,060

Nevada

560

$81,910

New Jersey

1,100

$81,160

Delaware

230

$81,120

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

The national mean annual wage for nurse educators was $68,640 in May 2012 (bls.gov/oes, 2013).

Sources:

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nursing Education Programs
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics May 2012
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition
Florida State University: MSN - Nurse Educator
Georgetown University: Nurse Educator
National League for Nursing: NLN News Releases
Nursing License Map: Nurse Educator
University of Texas Arlington: Nursing Education Program


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