What is a Nurse Educator? - Becoming a Nurse Educator (2024)

What Is a Nurse Educator?

Nurse educators are registered nurses (RNs) who have obtained advanced nursing degrees that allow them to teach nursing curriculum at colleges and universities, teaching and helping to train the future nurses of the world. They serve as faculty members in both nursing schools and teaching hospitals, transferring their valuable knowledge, experience, and skill sets to their students who will ultimately serve as the next generation of nurses. Many nurse educators, in addition to working in the classroom and teaching, also work in clinical settings. The best nurse educators will exhibit exceptional leadership qualities, have excellent communication abilities, and have in-depth, comprehensive knowledge in their given field. Nurse educators are responsible for designing, evaluating, updating, and implementing new and current nursing education curriculum. These educational professionals act as both advisers and role models for the students, assisting them in their journeys toward becoming successful licensed registered nurses.

Becoming a Nurse Educator

Nurse educators must have top tier communication skills, possess excellent critical thinking abilities, and have a solid clinical background. Additionally, nursing education professionals must have comprehensive and substantive knowledge in their particular area of instruction. It's essential that nurse educators possess the capacity to convey that knowledge to their neophyte nursing students. Nurse educators should exhibit an intense commitment to lifelong learning, exercise leadership abilities, and be committed to the scholarly progression of the nursing discipline. Lastly, nursing education professionals should have a strong knowledge base in theories of teaching, learning, and evaluation, be able to design curricula and programs that reflect sound educational principles, be able to assess a student’s needs, be innovative, and thoroughly enjoy teaching.

What Are the Educational Requirements for Nurse Educators?

Those looking to become nurse educators will first need to attend college or university and earn a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Upon obtaining a BSN degree, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) can be taken. Once this exam has been passed, the graduate is eligible for licensure as a registered nurse (RN).

After earning a BSN and becoming a licensed registered nurse (RN), the next step on the path to becoming a nurse educator is to obtain an advanced degree. Advanced degrees can come in the form of a Master's of Science in Nursing degree (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.), or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

MSN university programs are offered both online and in traditional classroom settings. MSN coursework is more advanced than classes taken during bachelor's degree programs. These post-baccalaureate programs seek to build upon the knowledge that nurses have gained via their undergraduate curriculum.

For individuals who are particularly interested in the academic side of nursing, there are Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs. Doctor of Nursing Philosophy programs seek to teach students not only research tactics and leadership, but public policy as well. Additionally, some universities offer MSN/Ph.D. dual degree programs.

According to the American Association of College of Nursing, prospective nurse educators who seek a career at the highest level at colleges or universities should obtain some doctoral degree in nursing. Individuals who have completed Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs will be best suited to become nurse educators. Nursing Ph.D. programs will heavily emphasize research, while DNP programs mainly focus on clinical practice.

Most employers hiring nurse educators will require applicants to have their nursing license along with a minimum of a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN), and anywhere from two to five years of experience in a clinical setting.

Read about nurse educator programs.

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?

Individuals who are interested in becoming a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) must take and pass the National League of Nursing (NLN) certification exam.

To be eligible to sit for the certification examination you must have the following:

  • An active registered nurse (RN) license
  • A master's or doctoral degree in nursing with a primary emphasis in nursing or one of the following:
    • Master's or doctoral degree in nursing and a post-master's certificate in nursing education
    • Master's or doctoral degree in nursing and nine or more credits hours of graduate-level education courses

Read about post master’s nurse education graduate certificate programs.

Where Does a Nurse Educator Work?

Nurse educators can be found working in a variety of settings, all of which offer nursing classes. Most often you will find nurse educators working in academic contexts; however, some nurse educators work in health care settings as staff development officers or clinical supervisors. The following examples are common workplaces where nurse educators are found:

  • Healthcare facilities
    • Hospitals
    • Long-term care facilities
  • Educational institutions/academic settings
    • Universities
    • Community colleges
    • Technical schools
    • Trade or vocational schools

Nurse Educator FAQs

A diabetes nurse educator is a nurse who specializes in the care and management of patients with diabetes. They can be registered nurses, advanced-practice nurses, or nurses working in an expanded role. They can manage patients with both Type I and Type II diabetes, as well as women with gestational diabetes. Diabetes education can be one on one with patients, or via a group class.

They teach patients the causes, pathophysiology, and symptoms of diabetes as well as hypo and hyperglycemia. Patients need to understand these concepts to remain compliant with treatment and follow-up. Patients need to learn how to assess their extremities, especially the feet, for wounds, lacerations, and ulcers as diabetes can affect healing. They need to get routine eye exams to check for retinopathy.

Diabetes nurse educators must also reach patients about the importance of diet and nutrition. Patients must learn to count carbohydrates and read food labels. They also need to learn to log their blood sugars and food to find out how they respond to the foods they choose.Patients must also learn about medications used for diabetes. They must learn timeframes in which the peak effect of the medication takes place, and what signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia are, and how to avoid "bottoming out." Insulin-dependent diabetics especially need close monitoring-they must learn about the different types of insulins along with their onset of action.

In years past, nurse educators developed curricula and taught the course material, while ensuring nurses demonstrated competency at the given skill or concepts. As technology has advanced, more online trainings are springing up in the clinical setting. However, there are pros and cons to this advancement in clinical learning.

Online learning is quick and cost-effective. Fewer nurse educators are needed to teach dozens of staff members clinical concepts. Competency is usually determined by passing an online exam, and completion is easily tracked electronically, which makes it easier for managers and nurse leaders to ensure all staff is trained. Moreover, staff complete online modules when they are able, rather than attending a class, which helps ease the burden of staffing coverage.

Conversely, online education has removed the hands-on approach to teaching. Students are unable to interact with an instructor, ask questions, and seek clarification of the content. While online learning is convenient, many nurses find they rush through the material as they must squeeze the courses in during their busy shift. Online learning lacks the practical approach to education - watching a procedure is far different than performing the procedure.

While nurse educators are still used in hospitals, sometimes they are used to develop online learning programs rather than leading classroom training.

What Does a Nurse Educator Do?

Nurse educators teach nursing students. They are responsible for designing, implementing, evaluating, and revising educational programs for nurses. Nurse educators may teach general nursing classes, or they might focus on specialized areas of nursing, like pediatric nursing, psychiatric nursing, or nursing informatics. Nurse educators may teach courses included in formal academic programs leading to a degree, or in continuing education or credential/certificate programs. At some point in a nurse educator's career, they will be expected to create a new nursing course or update an old course. It is for this reason that nurse educators are expected to be at the leading edge of clinical nursing practice. They must always stay current and up-to-date regarding the latest nursing trends, methods, developments, and technologies that are available. To achieve this, most nurse educators continue to work as professional nurses in their field and continue to actively participate in the larger nursing community through various professional nursing organizations. To be effective at their jobs, nursing education professionals need to have both excellent leadership skills and an in-depth knowledge of their field.

What Are the Roles and Duties of a Nurse Educator?

Some common roles and duties of a nurse educator include, but aren't limited to, the following:

  • Designing curricula
  • Developing classes and programs of study
  • Teaching students
  • Advising students
  • Evaluating students
  • Evaluating and revising educational programs and individual classes
  • Promoting discussion among students
  • Overseeing students' clinical practice
  • Serving as a role model and mentor for students
  • Documenting outcomes of educational processes
  • Engaging in scholarly work (e.g. peer review, research, etc.)
  • Speaking at nursing conferences
  • Contributing to the academic community via leadership roles
  • Maintaining clinical competence
  • Writing grant proposals

Nurse Educator Salary & Employment

Nursing education is a career that is in extremely high demand. The U.S. Department of Labor announced that 1 million new and replacement RNs would be needed by 2020. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that almost 65,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools last year due to a shortage of nurse educators.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between the years 2014 and 2024, post-secondary nursing teachers are expected to see a 19% growth in employment—an above average growth rate. In May 2015, the average annual salary for nursing educators and instructors was $73,150. However, this number greatly depends on the amount of clinical and teaching experience a nurse educator has and the particular location of employment. Teachers working during the academic year are paid their annual salary over a nine-month period. Compensation for summer teaching is usually paid separately from the main school year.

Annual salaries tend to rise for nurse educators who complete a doctorate and for individuals in charge of administrative or leadership responsibilities at academic institutions. Additionally, nurse educators can earn extra money by caring for patients.

Because an experienced nurse can make more money caring for patients than they can teaching, nursing schools are quickly moving to offer higher, more competitive salaries to attract more nurses into education.

Extreme shortages in nursing educators have prompted government agencies, professional groups, and some nonprofit organizations to launch campaigns that encourage young people to choose a career in nursing education.

Helpful Organizations, Societies, and Agencies

What is a Nurse Educator? - Becoming a Nurse Educator (2024)


What should I say in a nursing educator interview? ›

In-depth questions

Describe a time when you had to handle a student who wasn't performing well. Explain how you can make a patient care plan. Explain some of the most challenging situations you've faced as a nurse educator. Tell me about a time when you experienced a stressful situation.

What's your greatest strength as a nurse educator? ›

Nurse educators should be well-educated and knowledgeable and possess strong clinical experience and excellent communication skills. They bring foundational experience and knowledge in both the art and science of nursing to the role, as well as knowledge of educational theories and testing and evaluation methods.

What is the goal of the nurse educator? ›

Nurse educators are often responsible for designing, developing, delivering and evaluating education. They strive to improve the quality of patient care by incorporating best practice standards and evidence-based practice into their teaching strategies.

What is personal qualities of a good nurse educator? ›

In line with patience, a good nurse educator has a strong sense of empathy. Empathy is critical in the nursing field. Nurses must be able to place themselves in their patients' shoes. Nurse educators must be able to do this as well as place themselves in their students' shoes.

What's your favorite part about being a nurse educator? ›

One of the most rewarding aspects of becoming a nursing educator is the opportunity to develop relationships and even close bonds with students. Many teachers find they can 'see' themselves in their students. These students hold similar goals and aspirations.

What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers nursing? ›

Common nursing interview questions
  • Do you work well with other nurses, doctors and staff? ...
  • How would you handle a difficult patient? ...
  • How do you handle workplace stress? ...
  • What do you do if your replacement does not arrive? ...
  • How would you handle a disagreement with a doctor? ...
  • Describe how you manage a busy workload.

What are the 10 most common teaching interview questions and answers? ›

Bonus teacher interview questions
  • Why are you interested in teaching at this school?
  • What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
  • How do you use technology in the classroom?
  • What would you do if a student is in danger of failing your class?
  • What adjectives would you use to describe your presence in the classroom?
3 Sept 2022

How can I become a good nurse educator? ›

Qualities of Excellent Nurse Educators
  1. Work Experience and Clinical Knowledge. To teach others, you need to know your subject inside and out. ...
  2. Education and the Drive for Continuous Learning. ...
  3. Leadership Skills. ...
  4. Ability to Teach. ...
  5. Communication and People Skills. ...
  6. Internal Motivation and Passion. ...
  7. Professionalism.
28 Jun 2022

What is your greatest strength answer samples? ›

My greatest strength is my written communication skills. My greatest strength is administering assistance. See, transferable skills (those in blue) are things you can use at any job in any industry. A good example from our job offer is excellent written communication skills or management skills.

What it means to be a nurse educator? ›

Nurse educators are responsible for teaching and instructing nurses at colleges, universities, and in clinical settings like doctors offices and hospitals. They have advanced nursing degrees and understand the workload, policies, and requirements of nursing.

What is the purpose of being an educator? ›

Becoming a teacher provides an opportunity to nurture and encourage their students to appreciate and develop their natural abilities and special interests. An inspired teacher can make all the difference in a student's motivation to develop his own gifts and hidden talents.

What is the purpose of an educator? ›

An educator's most important responsibility is to search out and construct meaningful educational experiences that allow students to solve real-world problems and show they have learned the big ideas, powerful skills, and habits of mind and heart that meet agreed-on educational standards.

What is the best quality of an educator? ›

Some qualities of a good teacher include skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience. Other characteristics of effective teaching include an engaging classroom presence, value in real-world learning, exchange of best practices and a lifelong love of learning.

How is a nurse educator a leader? ›

Nurse educators in health care have a vital leadership role as clinical experts, role models, mentors, change agents, and supporters of quality projects.

What kinds of skills would you need to be a patient educator? ›

There are many skills that an effective health educator has, such as:
  • Communication. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Written communication. ...
  • Cultural competency. ...
  • Continually develop industry knowledge. ...
  • Practice public speaking.

What do you love about being an educator? ›

5 Reasons to Love Teaching
  • Collegiality. Teachers are amazing people. ...
  • Lifelong Learning. Teachers are lifelong learners who are constantly growing and evolving. ...
  • Exercising Creativity. ...
  • Building Relationships. ...
  • Providing Opportunity and Changing Lives.

Why do I want to be a nursing instructor? ›

Nurse Educators enjoy a wealth of opportunities to teach in a setting like a hospital or clinic. Also, you could teach in a traditional or online classroom setting. You will have the opportunity to educate various populations. Your options are endless when you're a Nurse Educator.

What makes you proud to be an educator? ›

You get to celebrate big and small accomplishments throughout the day and school year with your students. You get to watch your students (current and previous) grow and be proud that you were part of the process to get them to where they are today.

What is your weakness best answer nursing? ›

How to talk about weaknesses in your nursing interview
  • Spending too much time on paperwork.
  • Paying too much attention to detail.
  • Attempting to complete too many tasks at once.
  • A lack of clinical experience, which may apply to recent graduates or new nurses.
  • Not being familiar with recent software updates.

How do you handle difficult students in the classroom? ›

Five ways to deal with challenging students
  1. Praise their efforts and their achievements. ...
  2. Ask them for help. ...
  3. Give them responsibilities. ...
  4. Ensure students are clear about your expectations of them in the classroom. ...
  5. Mirror their body language.
17 Sept 2018

How do you answer tell us about yourself as a nurse? ›

Tell an important story

Use a personal story or two about a time when you demonstrated the qualities that would make you a good nurse. These could be experiences where you were able to exhibit your work ethic, personality traits, passion for health care, or compassion for others.

What is your greatest skill as a nurse? ›

The key to being a successful nurse is communication.

Communication skills are one of the most important requirements of a nurse's job—both following directions and communicating with patients and families. Patients who are sick or suffering often are not in a position of strength to speak up for themselves.

How do you communicate with an angry patient? ›

7 Tips for Handling an Angry Patient
  1. Invest some time. Sometimes a patient's anger is really a cry for help or attention. ...
  2. Dial up the empathy. ...
  3. Keep your cool. ...
  4. Mind your body language. ...
  5. Physically protect yourself. ...
  6. Legally protect yourself. ...
  7. Try to end the conversation on a positive note.
17 Jun 2016

How do you handle a patient yelling at you? ›

If a patient is angry enough to verbally abuse you, remain calm and professional. Keep some distance between you and the patient and do not respond until the verbal barrage is over. When it is, speak softly and call the patient by name.

Is becoming a nurse educator worth it? ›

Aspiring nurses who wish to enter the educational field have to undergo a lengthier, more time consuming and more expensive academic path, but the result – significantly higher compensation, a less stressful working environment, career options that don't involve direct patient care – make it all worth it.

Why would you be a good fit for this position? ›

Explanation: By highlighting your experience with a particular skill that the position requires, describe in detail what that experience looks like and how you have used it previously. This gives the hiring manager the chance to see some of your work and determine if it fits what they are looking for in a candidate.

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

Why should we hire you answer best? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

What is nursing Short answer? ›

Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. It includes the promotion of health, the prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people.

Why is the well being of an educator important? ›

Focusing on well-being can help teachers shift beyond a sense of merely surviving the challenges and difficulties in their work to seeing the ways they can thrive in their workplaces. Teachers who are well are equipped with skills and coping strategies to better manage and respond to stress.

What is the most important role of an educator? ›

Dedication. One of the most important parts of teaching is having dedication. Teachers not only listen, but also coach and mentor their students. They are able to help shape academic goals and are dedicated to getting their students to achieve them.

How do you view your role as an educator? ›

The role of Educators in a Child's Life
  1. Educators encourage your child to develop confidence, resilience and self-esteem.
  2. Educators teach your child in a holistic way.
  3. Educators role model social interaction for your child.
  4. Educators encourage your child to cooperate and work as part of a team.
1 Sept 2020

What are the 10 most common nursing interview questions and answers? ›

Common nursing interview questions
  • Do you work well with other nurses, doctors and staff? ...
  • How would you handle a difficult patient? ...
  • How do you handle workplace stress? ...
  • What do you do if your replacement does not arrive? ...
  • How would you handle a disagreement with a doctor? ...
  • Describe how you manage a busy workload.

How do you stand out in a nursing school interview? ›

We asked experienced nurses to share their top interview tips.
  1. Consider the interview an opportunity. ...
  2. Sell yourself. ...
  3. Know the school. ...
  4. Be prepared. ...
  5. Don't pass the buck. ...
  6. Be professional. ...
  7. Think ahead.

How do I introduce myself in a nursing school interview? ›

You could say: “I have a strong drive for nursing and so far in my career, I have proven myself to be competent enough to take on the challenges of this profession. The fact that I get to help people every day is what encourages me to come to work day after day.

How do you answer why do you want this job nursing? ›

Patient Care

Directly caring for patients is the biggest part of nursing, and an excellent potential aspect of your answer to the question of “why” you want to be a nurse. If you love working with patients, it could be an ideal entry into your answer to this question. “Human connection has always been important to me.

What is the hardest part of nursing interview question? ›

The hardest part of being a nurse is seeing a patient in pain or unhappy and being limited in the extent I can comfort them. The reality is that as a professional I can only do so much. However, I realize this helps me so that I do not become too emotionally invested in my patients."

How would you describe yourself as an educator? ›

Tell Me About Yourself – Sample Response

I am a positive person who has an enthusiastic outlook on life. I love my job and I get a great sense of achievement from seeing my students develop and grow as individuals. If I can have a positive impact on their future, I feel I am doing my job well.

How would you describe yourself? ›

Sample answers:

I am a hard-working and driven individual who isn't afraid to face a challenge. I'm passionate about my work and I know how to get the job done. I would describe myself as an open and honest person who doesn't believe in misleading other people and tries to be fair in everything I do.

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