As a registered nurse, you may already have some experience of teaching and mentoring others. And, you probably know all too well just how much of an impact the current nursing shortage in the US is having on the healthcare industry as a whole, including how it’s affecting both professionals and patients.

If you enjoy teaching and coaching, and want to play an important role in reducing the nursing shortage and helping new nurses get into this role, there are plenty of reasons to consider a career as a nurse educator. There has never been a better time than right now to work in this role, with thousands of positions open and nurse educators in increasingly high demand. If you want a change in your career, working as a nurse educator could be a rewarding choice. Some of the top reasons to consider moving into a nurse education career right now include:

High Demand

With the nursing shortage in the US directly related to a shortage of nurse educators, the demand for these professionals is very high at the moment. With colleges and nursing schools around the country in a situation where they do not have enough nurse educators to teach enough students to fill the shortage, the demand for good nurse educators is very high no matter where you go, with lots of educational institutions hiring. 

Study While You Work

To work as a nurse educator, you will need to gain at least an MSN degree. There are now various different ways that you can do this, with online programs that allow you to continue studying while you work. Online programs have made it much more accessible for nurses who want to advance their career but are not in a position to reduce their hours or take a break from work while studying. Baylor University’s online BSN to DNP programs are designed to provide you with the education that you need to become a nurse educator or get into a different advanced nursing role. You can study in a flexible manner online, fitting your studies around working as a nurse.  

Slower Paced Work

Many nurses decide to get into a nurse education role as they are looking for a change of work that provides them with a slower pace. Whether you have been nursing for many years and are looking for something less stressful for your day-to-day work, or are feeling burned out and overwhelmed after the COVID-19 pandemic like many nurses who are considering a change in role, working as a nurse educator can provide you with this. While you will still be required to work in a patient-centered setting, there are often fewer demands on nurse educators since rather than being responsible for handling patient care on your own, you will be mentoring nursing students and providing them with the guidance they need. 

Make a Difference

Working as a nurse educator means that you will be in a key role where you can have a direct impact on getting new nurses into the workforce. Whether you have become frustrated with the shortage of nurses in your own role as a nurse and want to do more to make a difference, or are interested in having a direct impact on the level of education and training that new nurses receive, working as a nurse educator will allow you to do this, and continue to make a difference not only to the nurses that you teach, but to the patients that they will go on to treat. 

How to Become a Nurse Educator

To get into the role of a nurse educator, you will need to be a registered nurse with several years of experience. You will typically be required to hold a BSN in order to get the qualifications needed to work as a nurse practitioner. If you have experience in nursing but have an associate’s degree, you can use an ADN-BSN bridge program to get this qualification and improve your eligibility to enroll on advanced nursing degree programs. 

To work as a nurse educator, you will usually need a minimum of an MSN. This will qualify you to teach ADN and BSN students. For educating advanced nurses, including master’s degree students and nurses who are studying for postgraduate certifications, you will typically be required to hold a more advanced qualification such as the DNP or Ph.D. in nursing. You will need an active nursing license to start studying for an advanced degree program and prepare to work as a nurse educator. 

Nurse Educator Licensing

Once you have studied as required and gained an MSN or higher, you will need to get a relevant license to work as a nurse educator. This will usually be a process that involves sitting an exam to get a license and certificate that provides you with the ability to work as a nurse educator in your state. The license you’ll need might depend on your future employer choice and any specialist field of nursing education that you might be interested in working in. The majority of the time, nurse educators are required to hold either a Certified Nurse Educator or Certified Academic Clinical Nurse Educator license by most healthcare organizations, colleges and nursing schools. 

Skills You Need

Many of the same skills that you have developed and built upon in your career as a registered nurse will serve you well in a career as a nurse educator. In this role, you will need excellent communication skills as you’re going to be spending a lot of time explaining various nursing concepts to students. You will also need to be an excellent leader, who leads by example and sets the bar for new nursing students to meet.

Since you will be dealing with nursing students from all walks of life, great interpersonal skills are an essential for succeeding in this career, along with good coaching skills and a high level of professionalism, expertise and knowledge. 

Right now, a shortage of nurse educators is stopping the US from reducing the nursing shortage as quickly as possible. Getting into this role is highly rewarding and gives you the chance to make a real difference to healthcare.