Nurse Educator Programs

Our country’s shortage of nurse educators has been a critical issue for many years, and it remains an urgent and seemingly insurmountable obstacle for many future healthcare professionals, eager learners, and workers alike. Every year, up to 80,000 students who are fully qualified are turned away from colleges, universities and other higher education institutions for nursing simply due to the lack of specialized instructors. This happens primarily because being an educator is not nearly as attractive (or as financially rewarding) as practicing as an RN or fulfilling a management position. Although it has been shown that this profession offers higher job satisfaction than standard bedside nursing, many students steer clear of it and choose a different career path. If, on the contrary, you are interested in learning more about this gratifying, in-demand profession, read the following guide to becoming a Nurse Educator.

Who is this program for?

Most students and working RNs (registered nurses) will either continue their studies and specialize in a particular nursing field, become clinical experts and constantly gather more practical experience or climb up the corporate ladder towards a leadership or executive role. This leaves little to no room for a less glamorous or acknowledged career path such as nursing education. Albeit underrated, this profession is indisputably the cornerstone of healthcare practice. Without teachers, training courses and the consistent dissemination of nursing information and traditions, the current workforce would not exist. As such, there is no job in higher demand in today’s market than a Nurse Educator.

If you are a nursing student with a passion for teaching, consider becoming a specialized instructor. If you have worked for a few years as an RN or an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) and realized that it is not for you, but you would still like to contribute to and improve the current healthcare system, joining a Nurse Educator program is the most valuable decision you can make. Similarly, if you have clinical expertise and would like to pass it on to future nurses, you should pursue a career in education. If you want a stable job with a decent income, the future of the healthcare workforce lies in your hands.

What can a Nurse Educator program do for you?

Going back to school may seem like a daunting task. Even more so if your advanced academic studies do not guarantee a significantly higher income. Tuition can be draining on your finances, your schedule might be too hectic to incorporate Master’s level training, or you might not be sure which specialization to choose. But becoming a Nurse Educator can be a highly fulfilling job that allows you to share your wisdom, experience, and recommendations with eager and dedicated students.

You can help learners go through the same steps you once did, lead the way in their transition towards professional nursing and ensure that the workforce is more prepared, committed and efficient than ever. This is an immense responsibility and also a great honor for someone who genuinely cares about this profession and the future of healthcare. If you would like to trade the hassle and chaotic work environment of a practicing nurse with the quiet, unhurried atmosphere of a classroom where you can teach your most valuable nursing lessons, becoming a Nurse Educator might be the best decision for you.

How can you become a Nurse Educator?

There are a few different ways to become a Nurse Educator and teach healthcare students the fundamentals of your practice. However, all of these career paths require at least a valid RN (registered nurse) license to be qualified. Once you have this taken care of, you can take a look at your available options. You can teach with only a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing or even an Associate’s Degree (only in some states) as a clinical instructor. However, if you want to teach in a classroom, you will most likely need to study for a Master of Science in Nursing. You can join a specialized program and earn a post-graduate certificate in Nursing Education. Lastly, if you want to teach at the highest level in a college or university, you must further your academic skills and enroll in a doctoral program. Most schools nowadays require you to have a Ph.D. or a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) to teach.

What does the program require?

Nurse Educator programs usually do not require prerequisite courses. However, you will still need to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale to be considered for admission. You will be asked to submit your current résumé, proof of your nursing license from an accredited institution, a goal statement explaining your desire and ambitions to become a healthcare teacher, three letters of recommendation (one professional and two from academic sources), as well as your transcripts from all post-secondary schools. If you are an international applicant, you will need to have a transcript evaluation, complete several prerequisites, submit proof of licensure in the state of your chosen university and obtain a passing score on a standardized test like TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).

What will you learn?

A Nurse Educator program is meant to prepare you to become a qualified teacher for nursing students and future healthcare professionals. The training will focus on defining course objectives, managing learning experiences and content, planning appropriate lessons, employing various evaluation methods, and also utilizing teaching materials to improve the instruction process and assessing course outcomes and class performance. Additionally, you will learn to communicate with pupils, make use of the current research data available in nursing education, design relevant and effective curricula based on your clinical practice and theoretical foundation and incorporate technology to maximize learning potential.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the key-principles of teaching adult learners, the different strategies you can use to conduct and determine the efficacy of educational experiences (be it lab practice or didactic courses), risk assessment and disease prevention, as well as workforce planning and relationship building. You will learn about teacher-student communication, standardized testing, evaluation of clinical performance and the different economic and social structures that currently affect the healthcare system. Lastly, you will explore the role of a Nurse Educator during a 120-hour teaching experience.

Here are the main courses you will attend during this program:

  • Teaching Strategies in Nursing
  • Curriculum Theory & Design
  • Health Care Quality & Safety
  • Philosophy, Theory & Role
  • Teaching Practicum
  • Evaluation: From Individual to Program
  • Teaching Methods
  • Assessment of Learning Outcomes
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Advanced Research Methods
  • Population Health Management
  • Informatics
  • Online Teaching and Learning: Development and Instruction
  • Scientific Writing
  • Advanced Statistics and Data Management
  • Nurse Educator Practicum

How long does the program last?

The length of your Nurse Educator program will vary greatly depending on the level of education you are pursuing. If you are earning your Master of Science in Nursing with this specialization, you are looking at 3 to 4 years of training before receiving your certification. On the other hand, if you are enrolled in a bridge program, completion time may be reduced to 2 years of full-time study. Similarly, if you are part of a doctoral program and working towards earning a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) or a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in Nursing, you are looking at anywhere between 3 and 5 years of learning.

Are there any clinical hours required?

Nurse Educator programs are among the very few nursing degree tracks that require little to no clinical hours. Although the exact number depends on the state, school, and certification you are pursuing, you should expect to carry out approximately 120 clinical practicum hours for your Nurse Educator training. During this time you will enhance your clinical expertise to gain more firsthand experience when teaching students how to manage rotations and various medical situations in the workplace. You will conduct lab simulations with your pupils and dedicate most of your teaching practicum to providing them with clinical instruction.

Can you join an online Nurse Educator program?

Of course. In fact, it is the recommended route for those wishing to pursue teaching as their career. Not only will distance learning allow you to keep your job and work while you study, but it will also offer you the flexibility and autonomy needed to personalize your learning time and methods. An online program will open up more financial aid opportunities for you, as well as keep both your campus visits and your costs to a minimum. This type of specialized instruction is ideal for busy nurses who want to continue their education without sacrificing too much of their time and responsibilities. It is a bonus if you decide to teach online because you will already be familiar with the materials, learning strategies and overall format of distance education.

It is not easy to find a high-quality Nurse Educator program that is also affordable. Here are some of the best available alongside the most well-known, esteemed universities:

  • John Hopkins School of Nursing
  • Minnesota State University
  • Indiana State University
  • Winona State University
  • University of Houston
  • Winston-Salem State University
  • University of Texas Health Science Center
  • University of Nevada
  • Missouri State University
  • University of Wyoming
  • Northeastern State University
  • Florida State University
  • Western Governors University
  • Eastern New Mexico University
  • California State University-Chico
  • University of New Mexico College of Nursing
  • Jacksonville University
  • Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing
  • Nebraska Methodist College
  • Capella University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • Excelsior College
  • Drexel University
  • Mercy College School of Health and Natural Sciences
  • Duke University School of Nursing
  • Southwest Baptist University
  • Marian University
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Midwestern State University
  • University of West Georgia
  • Angelo State University
  • Texas A & M University
  • Union University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Central Methodist University

How much does the program cost?

A Nurse Educator program costs between $18,000 and $25,000. In addition to the tuition, you will have to pay a matriculation fee (around $500, only for first-time enrolled students), health fee, lab fee and several other expenses including housing, meals, uniforms, books, learning materials and supplies. Regarding funding, you can apply for various scholarships, grants or private loans. You can see if your workplace is willing to reimburse your studies until you earn your final certification.

Is the Nurse Educator program accredited?

Yes, all Nurse Educator programs should have accreditation from The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN), The Higher Learning Commission (for PhDs) or The NLN Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA). Remember that you will most likely need to pass the NLN (National League for Nursing) exam to practice. Certification from this examination is not mandatory, but most schools and universities prefer that you have it.

How much can you earn as a Nurse Educator?

Although you probably will not earn as much as a Nurse Manager, a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) or someone in an executive role, Nurse Educators make a decent living. Depending on your school, you can reach an income of $100,000. The median salary for a Nurse Educator is currently $72,280.

You will be able to teach in professional schools, junior colleges, technical and trade schools, nursing faculties and universities. You will easily be able to find job openings in almost every learning center or facility across the country, considering the extremely high demand for Nurse Educators nationwide. If for whatever reason you would like to branch out and see what else this profession has to offer, here are a few other job positions you can apply for with this certification:

  • Clinical Instructor
  • Patient Educator
  • Nursing Instructor
  • Staff Development Coordinator
  • Preceptor
  • Post-Secondary Health Specialties Teacher
  • Community Health Educator