How Do You Become a Nurse Educator?

Nurse EducatorYou can pass on your nursing skills to others when you decide to become a nurse educator. With the current shortage of nursing teachers, the important role of the nurse educator is becoming much discussed in the healthcare field. While many people understand the need for more nurse educators, those who are interested in this field sometimes have questions about how to transition from traditional nursing practice to a teaching role.

Required Education at Bachelor and Master’s Levels

To become a nurse educator, you will obviously need to be a registered nurse (RN). Although you can become an RN with a two-year degree, if you think you might want to teach one day, it’s imperative that you go on for a four-year degree and complete your BSN. More nurses are being encouraged to complete the BSN, as the goal is to increase BSN educated nurses to 80% by 2020. Nurse educators need to have advanced degrees, and you can’t go on for your MSN without first getting a BSN. It makes sense that any area in which you decide to teach is an area in which you have skills, so when you get your MSN, you might want to specialize in a job area in which you find particular satisfaction.

There are master’s degrees that are specifically focused on nursing education, but the jury is still out on whether those degrees offer the best preparation for someone who wants to go on and teach at a university level, according to the American Nurses Association. Sometimes nurses get their MSN and then go on to get a certificate in nursing education. It would be a good idea to talk with your academic mentors and professional colleagues about the best path forward.

Certification Process

Nurse educators can become certified by taking a certified nurse educator exam accredited by the National League for Nursing. You can go to their website to ascertain if you meet the eligibility requirements to take the test. They provide all the information you need about testing dates and fees and how to prepare for the exam. The exam can be taken at various times in your career, post master’s or post doctorate. Though certification is optional, receiving your certification shows your professionalism and dedication and helps strengthen the overall development and competency of the nursing education field.

Optional Education at the Doctoral Level

Nurse educators can work in a variety of settings, including continuing education programs. Not every nurse educator will want or need to go on for doctoral level education, but it’s something that will be supported and likely encouraged if you plan to teach full-time in an academic institution that grants bachelor’s and higher level degrees. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), about 86% of current job openings in those kinds of institutions require or prefer someone who has gotten a doctorate.

Related Resource: Become a Nurse Practitioner

With the current nursing shortage in the U.S., there is an increasing need for nurse educators. For now, prospective nursing students are sometimes turned away from training because of a lack of qualified nurse educators. This is an excellent time to become a nurse educator, a role in which you can have the satisfaction of training future nurses to become skilled and compassionate practitioners.

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