Nurse educators are best known for teaching clinical and didactic courses to students in nursing schools, and they play a key role in training the next generation of nurses for their future careers. However, some nurses go into consulting and become independent nurse educators, teaching through live seminars, books, CDs, wellness coaching, and other types of training programs, according to National Nurses in Business Association, Inc. Across the board, postsecondary teachers can expect 17% employment growth between 2010 and 2020, and nursing specialties are expected to have more positive job growth since positions are more difficult to fill than other specialties, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers earned an average yearly salary of $67,810 in May 2011, although salaries can vary greatly depending on the size and type of institution you teach at and your level of experience. The job responsibilities of a nurse educator might include:
- Teaching courses to undergraduate and/or graduate nursing students
- Planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing curriculum
- Teaching practical nursing skills to nursing students in clinical courses, such as checking vital signs, inserting catheters and IVs, performing patient assessments, and making diagnoses
- Conducting research in the nursing field, publishing scholarly work, and participating in academic committees
- Grading and evaluating a student’s work in nursing courses
Although the doctorate is the preferred degree for nurse educators, a master’s degree is the minimum requirement to serve as a postsecondary nursing teacher. The typical degree path would be a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) followed by a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in nursing education. From here, the student has the option of pursuing either a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. in Nursing. Teaching jobs with masters in healthcare degrees alone may be scarce since these degrees do not typically prepare students to teach at the college level. However, the best masters in healthcare administration programs may prepare students for future doctoral study, which could help registered nurses transition from nursing management to a career in nursing education at a four-year institution.
Featured Nurse Educator Profiles
For Diane Omdahl, nursing had afforded her the opportunity to help people in more ways than patient care. She’s been able to train healthcare providers through her company, Beacon Health Corporation, which provides education, training, and tools for home health agencies and their employers, and has presented more than 300 audio conferences and 100 seminars. She’s also been able to share her Medicare expertise with patients through her latest venture, 65 Incorporated, an online tool that helps seniors better understand their Medicare plan.
Linda Sperling was 40 with five grown children when she earned her high school diploma and started her career. She went to school to become an Emergency Medical Technician, but after working for a little bit, she knew she wanted to do more, so she became a paramedic. After working for a few years as a paramedic, she still wanted more, so she went to school to become a nurse.
A call to help people drew Gwen George to nursing, and over her 30-plus-year career, she has done just that for a variety of patients. As a registered nurse, she’s worked in hospital settings in medical-surgical units, Intensive Care Units, mental health, and home health. As a family nurse practitioner, she’s worked in rural health clinics, nursing homes, and HIV clinics.
Since earning a diploma in nursing more than 25 years ago, Laurie Nagelsmith has worked as a staff nurse at a community hospital, clinical instructor for a licensed practical nursing program, director of a community health improvement program, consultant for a home care agency, and director of health services at a small liberal arts college, all throughout continuing her education all the way up to the doctoral level.
One of Wendy Robb’s favorite sayings is, “Sometimes you don’t choose the challenge, sometimes it chooses you. Rise to meet it either way.” Throughout her career, she’s consistently taken that motto to heart and risen to meet multiple academic and professional challenges. She started her nursing career working in the Trauma Intensive Care unit, worked a full-time night shift while pursuing a bachelor’s degree.