Nurse Educators and Professors: Eligibility, Qualifications and Career Projection

by Alexander Griffin
Nurse Educators and Professors Eligibility, Qualifications and Career Projection

As a nurse practitioner, dealing with different patients with a diverse set of health issues can take a toll on you. If you feel constantly overwhelmed and burnt out, it might be a sign that you need a career change. A nurse educator is a good choice if you want to continue working in the field. This article will tell you everything you need to know about becoming a nurse educator.

So who are nurse educators?

Simply put, nurse educators are nurses who teach and train aspiring nurses. They are registered nurses with vast experience in different fields of nursing. They can either teach general courses or opt for specific subjects like pediatrics or psychiatry.

A typical day in the life of a nurse educator includes teaching students in a classroom setting, devising exams, grading papers. At the same time, they must keep themselves up to date with the latest nursing practices. However, nurse educators experience their own set of challenges in this field.

Nurse Educator vs. Nurse Professor

A nurse professor is a nurse educator who has a Doctorate in Nurse Practice (DNP) and a teaching experience of 10 years. Tenured nursing professors usually teach in universities and spend their time on research work and publishing.

Prospects in Nurse Education

Healthcare is a fast-growing field that provides vast prospects for career growth. With a significant number of people entering the industry, the demand for competent educators is rising. Universities and hospitals need experienced and qualified nursing educators to educate the new generation of nurses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing professor salaries mainly differ based on their work settings. For example, a nurse educator in general medical and surgical settings earns around $119,050 annually, while a nurse educator in an academic setting earns $34,320 annually.

Many other factors contribute towards salary differences in nurse education, like experience, education, and social network. The best way to increase your prospects as a nurse educator is to seize every opportunity to make yourself better qualified for the job.

Work Settings and Responsibilities of a Nurse Educator

A nurse educator can work in different settings like academics, research, and clinical environment. The responsibilities of a nurse educator vary with each work setting.

In an academic setting, nurse educators are responsible for providing quality education to future nurses. In addition to education, they also train their students in soft skills like teamwork, critical thinking, and decision making. Some nurse educators also mentor other faculty members who are new to the field. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), nurse educators can also work as collaborators and curriculum developers in the given academic setting.

In a research setting, nurse educators work to develop effective clinical practices. They often work with nurse practitioners in clinical settings to improve patient care. While going through transitional phases, nurses take guidance from nurse educators. As healthcare is a fast-growing field, researchers stay on top of the latest nursing practices and impart their knowledge to students and nurse practitioners.

In a clinical setting, nurse educators take a slightly different route to teaching. They work in teams with registered nurses to evaluate the nursing students. As a part of their coursework, students must show exceptional skills in independent evaluation, diagnosis, and patient care. Nurse educators are also responsible for arranging seminars and team-building exercises in the hospital to ensure a healthy work environment.

Are you Eligible?

While going through the article, you might feel that being a nurse educator resonates with your personality. If that is the case, it’s time to take the next step! To step into nurse education, make sure you fulfill the criteria mentioned below:  

  1. Advanced Degree

While a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) is enough to gain a license, you need a more specialized degree to step into nurse education. Universities prefer a Doctor in Nurse Practice (DNP) as a nurse educator due to their exceptional skill set in research and teaching. However, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree may also be considered for the job if you are enrolled in a doctorate program. Even so, some universities require an MSN to gain an additional degree in education to qualify for the position.

The reason behind these strict policies is the importance of the field. Educators are given a tremendous responsibility to impart their knowledge to future nurses and shape their minds. A DNP program trains the nurses in research, teaching and leadership skills, and management strategies. In addition, the Doctors of Nursing are well versed in the ethics and policies in the field of nursing.

  • Work Experience

An advanced degree alone will not get you a job in teaching. To work as a nurse educator, you need to be a registered nurse (RN) in your state with a license to practice. In addition to this, you should also have a few years of experience practicing in a healthcare setting.

Nurses with years and years of experience as a practitioner have certain advantages. Working in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings allows you to learn about the intricacies of the field. You develop a certain skill set that cannot be achieved by theoretical knowledge alone. With first-hand experience, you can directly impact students and act as a role model for them.

A good educator knows that the field is constantly evolving, the learning never stops. As a result, many nursing educators divide their time between teaching and practicing. This helps in staying on top of the latest healthcare practices and gaining teaching experience simultaneously. This is the best option to fulfill the necessary experience required for a university tenure.

  • Skills

Teachers are born, not made. Courses specializing in teaching strategies taught in advanced degree programs only aim to polish your pre-existing skills.

 A good teacher has strong verbal and written communication skills so they can instruct the students efficiently. They inspire their students to work hard and achieve milestones. A nurse educator should be no different.

You should be able to engage the students in class and urge them to participate. Good leadership skills are also necessary to empower the students and inspire them to become the best versions of themselves.


Nurse educators are the pillars of the field of nursing. With the growing opportunities in healthcare, BLS predicts employment rates to go up by 14%, creating millions of job opportunities. With many people coming into healthcare, qualified and competent nurse educators are now more in demand than ever, and with the opportunity to influence the younger generation of nurses, a job in education can be highly rewarding.

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