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Career Paths for Nurse Educators

For nurses to develop into pivotal healthcare figures, they need teachers with practical knowledge and clinical experience. Yet, as the current nursing population struggles to keep up with the demand for healthcare services, there is still a lack of teachers to prepare the next generation of nursing professionals. Because of this shortage, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that nurse educator job openings will increase at a faster than average rate of 22% through 2030.

How Do Nurses Transition to a Nurse Educator Career?

Nurses interested in a career in nursing education must complete a graduate program. The online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Education degree program from The University of Texas at Arlington prepares nurses to take the next step as teachers. MSN students learn the latest instructional, learning assessment and curriculum development strategies. Other courses include:

  • Role of the Nurse Educator
  • Advanced Pathophysiology for Nurse Educators
  • Advanced Pharmacology for Nurse Educators
  • Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning
  • Principles of Research in Nursing
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Evidence-Based Practice

Students also participate in a 45-hour simulation exercise to delve deeper into active learning. A practicum provides further experiential learning with 135 hours of hands-on practice overseen by a licensed preceptor. Graduates will have the skills to transition to their new roles teaching in associate and baccalaureate nursing programs and other education-driven positions within the healthcare system.

Where Do Nurse Educators Work?

Nurse educators work in several settings. Although many nurse educators work in academia, many also work in clinical settings as employers seek to maintain a high level of professional development among nursing staff. Graduates of UTA’s MSN in Nursing Education online program can work in the following settings:

  • Four-year colleges and universities
  • Junior colleges
  • Technical and trade schools
  • Academic and clinical research facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Private businesses

Through 2030, according to BLS projections, nurse educator positions will grow 30% or more in these specific settings:

  • State junior colleges
  • Private and local colleges, universities and professional schools
  • Local technical and trade schools
  • Ambulatory healthcare services
  • Private psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals

What Are Some Nurse Educator Jobs and Salaries?

Nurses who want to transition away from shift work or direct patient care may find that a nurse educator career is a great fit. However, for those who still wish to remain engaged in the clinical aspects of nursing, opportunities exist there, too. Possible career paths and salaries for nurse educators are below:

Academic Nurse Educator

Average annual salary: $75K, per ZipRecruiter (Feb 2022)

Settings: Academic nurse educators usually teach in certificate, undergraduate and graduate programs at colleges, universities and technical or trade schools.

Job responsibilities: Academic nurse educators work closely with student populations, including recent high school graduates who are first-time degree seekers, and increasingly, adult learners pursuing a first or second degree. Nurse educators in these settings develop lesson plans and curricula, teach in the classroom and online and evaluate students’ progress in order to meet learning objectives. Academic nurse educators may serve in administrative roles and oversee the success of a degree program.

Nursing Professional Development Specialist

Average annual salary: $93K, per ZipRecruiter (Feb 2022)

Settings: Nursing professional development specialists work in hospitals, clinics, larger physician practices and other healthcare delivery systems.

Job responsibilities: Nursing professional development specialists, formerly called clinical nurse educators, analyze potential gaps in nursing knowledge. As evidence-based nursing practices evolve and new research emerges, development specialists work with nurses and healthcare providers to expand nursing knowledge and improve patient outcomes. They serve as preceptors and mentors also.

Overall, job prospects are excellent for nurse educators, with many options in workplace settings. The role offers countless opportunities to guide new and seasoned nurses while still influencing nursing practices and patient care.

Learn more about The University of Texas at Arlington’s online MSN in Nursing Education program.

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