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Do You Want to Be a Nurse Educator?

There is a considerable shortage of nurses in the U.S., worsened by dramatic workforce losses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts predict the nursing shortage will only continue to grow. Several factors are causing the shortage, including the aging Baby Boomer generation, burnout, the retirement of older nurses and a shortage of nurse educators.

According to a 2023 report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and data collected from AACN’s Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact Sheet:

  • U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 78,000 qualified applications for baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2022. One of the main reasons for these rejections was a lack of nurse educators.
  • As of October 2022, there were 2,166 faculty vacancies in 909 nursing schools that offer baccalaureate and/or graduate degree programs, representing a national nurse faculty vacancy rate of 8.8%.
  • The average age of nursing faculty with appropriate master’s degrees, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Education, is about 55 years old for full professors and associate professors, meaning many nursing faculty will likely retire within the next decade.

What Types of Roles Can Nurses With an MSN in Nursing Education Fill?

If you complete an MSN in Nursing Education program such as the one offered 100% online by The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), you can serve in a variety of capacities within academic settings. You can work as part-time faculty and continue operating in the clinical arena, or as full-time faculty. You may also qualify for positions such as associate dean, clinical nurse educator, professor, staff development officer or continuing education specialist. Nurse educators can work in an array of academic and healthcare environments, including colleges and universities, nursing schools, public health agencies, hospitals and research facilities.

What Do Nurse Educators Do?

Teaching is already an integral aspect of nursing, so becoming an educator can be a natural transition for some. These nurses are essential to three important aspects of healthcare: bolstering the nursing workforce, implementing evidence-based practices and improving patient outcomes. Nurse educators, broadly speaking, serve as role models by directing instruction and collaboration. On a day-to-day basis, nurse educators teach; develop, evaluate and revise curriculum; counsel students; write and publish research; and collaborate with other academics.

Why Become a Nurse Educator?

Those who complete MSN programs in nursing education have several reasons for becoming nurse educators. These reasons may include:

  • Leading students into clinical practice
  • Motivating student progress
  • Working closely with research
  • Collaborating with other health professionals
  • Serving as role models
  • Increasing earning potential
  • Transitioning out of clinical practice
  • Changing the future of nursing and nursing education

How to Become a Nurse Educator

If you seek a career as a nurse educator, obtaining an MSN in Nursing Education from a quality, fully accredited program will prepare you well to work in various settings. Students must find programs that best meet their needs. Online MSN programs like those offered by UTA can work well for many nurses, especially those who want to continue working while pursuing their degree. Accelerated online MSN programs can also provide quicker — and often less expensive — paths toward earning an advanced degree and increasing career opportunities.

There is a critical need for nurse faculty and educators. Those who have chosen this profession claim there is no more rewarding experience than watching their students cross the stage to receive their diplomas. In addition, these nurse educators know that they play an important role in shaping future nurses.

Learn more about UTA’s online MSN in Nursing Education program.

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