Working as a nurse educator allows nurses to combine a passion for nursing with a love of teaching. Nurse educators are responsible for guiding and inspiring the next generation of nurses. They play a fundamental role in the healthcare system and help shape the future of nursing and patient care. There is a high demand for nurse educators, and they typically enjoy attractive salaries and plenty of higher-level career opportunities.
Training to become a nurse educator takes time, and you will need to invest in your education by completing an advanced degree like a masters in nurse education online. A masters in nurse education online program is designed to equip registered nurses with the skills and knowledge to become effective educators. If you are interested in the future of nursing and would like to pass on your skills and experience to student nurses, then a career as a nurse educator could be the right fit for you. Here are ten steps that you will need to take to become a nurse educator:
Step 1: Learn about the role of a nurse educator
If you are keen on the idea of pursuing a career as a nurse educator, then you must do research and gain a good understanding of the role. Completing an advanced degree like a masters in nurse education online is a huge investment. Transitioning from a registered nurse to a nurse educator will also have a big impact on your day-to-day duties and working conditions. With that in mind, you must learn about the responsibilities of a nurse educator and determine that this is the best career path for you.
GlobalHealth explains how “nurse educators are responsible for teaching, inspiring, and mentoring the next generation of nurses.” Their role is to equip student nurses with the skills needed to provide quality patient care and face the demands of today’s evolving healthcare system. Nurse educators are expected to have advanced nursing and teaching skills, which are usually gained while studying for a higher qualification like a masters in nurse education online. You should be aware that nurse educators typically spend most of their time working in classrooms or offices. Nurse educators still play a role in patient care, but they spend less time with patients and more time teaching and advocating for nurses.
Step 2: Understand the benefits of the role
Transitioning into a nurse educator role takes time, and you will be required to earn an advanced qualification like a masters in nurse education online. However, training to become a nurse educator can bring about dozens of attractive benefits. One of the major advantages of pursuing a career as a nurse educator is that you will have a meaningful impact on the future of the healthcare system. You will act as a role model to student nurses and inspire them to become outstanding nursing professionals. The job outlook for nurse educators is excellent, and there is an increasing demand for qualified nursing educators due to a national nursing shortage. ExploreHealthCareers.org explains how this shortage can be largely attributed to a lack of nurse educators to train future nurses. The increasing demand for nurse educators means that they enjoy excellent job security and fantastic career prospects. Another advantage of working as a nurse educator is that you will benefit from lifelong learning. Nurse educators are constantly updating their skills and expertise through research and cutting-edge healthcare technologies.
Step 3: Become a registered nurse
You must become a registered nurse before you can consider enrolling in an advanced degree like a masters in nurse education online. There are various routes to become a registered nurse. Most students opt to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before applying for a nursing license. You can become a registered nurse faster by completing an Associates’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) in as little as 18 months. However, this is not recommended if you aspire to complete a masters in nurse education online or apply for senior nursing roles. Below is the traditional route to becoming a registered nurse:
• Complete a bachelor’s degree
Most students start their journey to becoming a registered nurse by completing a BSN degree. Most BSN programs take four years of full-time study to finish. A BSN program will involve a combination of classroom work and assessments, and clinical placements.
• Build clinical experience
Graduate nurses must complete a specified number of clinical placement hours before they are eligible to apply for a license. Most BSN programs include placements, but you should also build your clinical experience by applying for internship opportunities outside of your degree program.
• Pass the NCLEX exam
Graduate nurses must also pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) exam before being eligible for a nursing license. The NCLEX exam is designed to test a graduate’s skills and knowledge. It is a good idea to prepare for the exam by completing NCLEX practice papers before you sit the proper exam.
• Apply for a nursing license
Once the above steps are complete, you should be eligible to apply for a nursing license. Each state sets its criteria for licensure, so check the requirements of your area beforehand. Graduate nurses who receive a license are classed as registered nurses and can apply for entry-level nursing positions. Registered nurses can also enroll in advanced nursing qualifications like a masters in nurse education online.
Step 4: Build nursing experience
It might be possible to enroll in an advanced degree such as a masters in nurse education online once you become a registered nurse. However, it is advisable to build your nursing experience before taking this next step. You may also not meet the admission requirements for advanced nursing programs until you have evidence of sufficient work experience. With that in mind, you should work on expanding your clinical experience and developing your nursing skills before you seek to move into a more senior role. According to advice on allnursingschools.com, “nurses generally need between two and three years of clinical practice before they can start teaching.” Many advanced degrees, such as a masters in nurse education online program, require nurses to have this level of experience before being accepted onto the course.
Step 5: Enrol in a nurse educator program
If you have decided that you want to become a nurse educator, then you will need to start researching nurse educator programs. Most nurses who are interested in teaching will study for an advanced degree like a master’s or a doctoral degree. In most cases, you will need to be a licensed registered nurse with a BSN and sufficient clinical experience before you can complete a program like a masters in nurse education online. Schools have different entry requirements, so it is strongly recommended that you contact the course provider to check the entry requirements before choosing a school. Consider the options carefully and take factors such as course format and length, tuition fees, and reputation of the school into consideration. Enrolling in a nurse educator program is a big investment, so you must pick a quality course that is well suited to you.
Step 6: Earn a masters in nurse education online
More nurses are opting to complete a masters in nurse education online rather than attending a traditional campus-based course. Choosing an online program has several great benefits. Firstly, you will have the convenience and flexibility to study when and where you want. This means that you can continue working as a nurse while you earn a masters in nurse education online. Distance learning is ideal for nurses who have a busy schedule or family obligations that would make it impossible to attend rigid classroom teaching sessions.
Consider the advantages and potential drawbacks of studying online to determine whether this is the best option for you. For instance, one of the biggest benefits of a masters in nurse education online program is that you will have a flexible study schedule and no commuting costs. However, a potential drawback of earning a masters in nurse education online is that you will have less direction from an instructor. This means that you must be very organized and manage your time well to meet your course milestones. Take a look at this article for some distance learning success tips if you’re considering enrolling in a masters in nurse education online program.
Step 7: Complete clinical placements
Becoming a qualified nurse educator requires more than just formal education and classwork. You will also need to complete various placements to expand your clinical skills and demonstrate that you have the expertise to become an effective nurse educator. Most nurse education degrees will require you to complete a minimum of two clinical placements, one of which much be in an approved nurse education setting. You should consider what placements you want to complete before you enroll in an advanced degree like a masters in nurse education online. You should pick placements that align with your future career goals and work preferences. For example, if you hope to find employment in an academic setting once you are certified, then you should look for internships in universities or nursing schools.
Step 8: Choose a nursing specialization
Nurse educators are expected to have advanced skills and knowledge in healthcare, nursing education, and one of two specialty areas. You will have the opportunity to specialize in your chosen areas when you complete a nurse education degree like a masters in nurse education online program. Some nurse educators have several specialties and teach students in those topics. Popular nurse educator specialties include adult health, critical care, pediatrics, and mental health. You will also need to consider what type of students you want to work with. For example, some nurse educators prefer working with junior and first-year nursing students, whereas others are more suited to mentoring students in doctoral programs.
Step 9: Apply for a nurse educator certification
Certification is not required for every nurse educator, although it should improve your future career opportunities and boost your earning potential. Most employers give favor to nurse educators who are certified, and achieving certified status will help you remain competitive in the job market. Once you have completed a nurse educator program, you can apply for certification from the National League of Nursing (NLN). You will need the pass the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) exam before you are granted certified status. You must meet the following criteria to be eligible to sit the CNE examination:
● Have an active registered nurse license.
● Have a Master of Science in Nursing Degree or higher.
● Have an advanced qualification such as a masters in nurse education online degree.
Step 10: Explore leadership positions
Nurse educators are highly qualified, and many progress into leadership positions with experience. The career opportunities you have as a nurse educator will depend on your choice of employer and nursing specialty. Here are some of the positions that you could move into with a nurse educator degree:
● Professor of nursing - Nursing professors teach future nurses in a wide variety of settings, including colleges, universities, and hospitals.
● Dean of nursing - A dean of nursing is responsible for managing the administrative tasks of a nursing school or college. They also provide leadership guidance to faculty members and students.
● Nursing curriculum coordinator - Nursing coordinators are responsible for the training needs of nursing staff. They provide educational materials, organize clinical training sessions, and identify when additional training is required.
Transitioning into a nurse educator role can be a great way for nurses to take on a new challenge and improve their career outlook. There is a serious shortage of nurses which means that nurse educators are in high demand across the board. Nurse educators enjoy fantastic job perks such as high salaries, excellent job security, and access to leadership positions. You will need to complete an advanced degree like a masters in nurse education online program and build sufficient clinical experience before being eligible for nurse educator positions. If you are a nurse hoping to move into teaching, then follow the above steps to become a certified nurse educator.