4 Career Paths for Nursing Educators
Do you love teaching? This expanding field may be your calling.
If you have a passion for nursing, an aptitude for teaching, and a desire to make a difference, nursing education can be a rewarding career path, even if you can’t envision yourself lecturing in a classroom. This article explores four distinct facets of modern nursing education to help you decide where you might thrive as a nurse educator.
Hospital Nurse Educators
CLINICAL TRAINING FOR NURSING STAFF
Hospital nurse educators are clinical leaders, responsible for maintaining staff competencies, and training new employees to provide high-quality care. Typical daily tasks include developing educational content, revising policies to reflect evidence-based practice, facilitating skills fairs and classes such as CPR, and managing online learning systems. A hospital nurse educator may be asked to serve on committees and as a member of professional associations.
For these roles, employers generally look for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, substantial patient care experience, and managerial expertise.
Kelly Zimmerman, RN, MSN-Ed., CRRN, is the all-staff nursing educator at Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare in Pomona. Initially unsure how to apply her MSN, she fulfilled her desire to teach as a peer preceptor and clinical instructor. Now, she finds fulfillment in helping nurses evolve from being task-focused to thinking critically about the bigger picture. She says great teachers must be “patient and ready to adapt teaching strategies to meet different learning styles” and “should have excellent communication skills, maintain professionalism, and have a passion for ongoing education.”
Lisa Behrend, RN, DNP, AC-CCNS, CCRN-CSC, CLSSGB, is a regional director of education for Prime Healthcare. Her position is mainly administrative: performing needs assessments, creating curriculum, and collaborating and networking within the region. However, she enjoys the occasional opportunities to provide direct education to staff. Behrend recommends gaining certification in your specialty area and in leadership. “Effective leaders know how to build teams, create rapport, and collaborate to implement and sustain processes,” she explains. If you’re invested in quality improvement and helping nurses achieve excellence, you may find the role of hospital nurse educator well worth pursuing.
Hospital New Graduate/Resident Educators
TURNING NOVICE NURSES INTO PROFESSIONALS
The new grad/residency education role is similar to a hospital educator position except that your trainees are newly licensed nurses fresh out of school, undergoing the extraordinary transition from nursing student to professional.
New grad/resident educators often work closely with leadership and human resources to recruit and retain staff. Interpersonal and communication skills are essential to developing successful relationships with nursing colleges and their students, who are potential future employees. As with hospital educator jobs, this role typically requires a nursing degree — usually an MSN in education — and several years of patient care experience.