How Do You Become a Nurse Educator?

Nurse EducatorAs the nursing population continues to age, there will be a large demand for registered nurses to become nurse educators to train the newest generation of nurses to take over their spots. With over one-third of working nurses being age 50 or older and reaching retirement, many fear that the United States is on the brink of a critical nursing shortage. In fact, a recent survey shows that there will be 300,000 vacant nursing positions nationwide in the coming decade, according to The Washington Post. In order to do your part in boosting nursing student success and meeting job shortages in the healthcare industry, read on for a step-by-step guide on how to become a nurse educator.

Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The first step towards becoming a nurse educator is earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Within a BSN program, you will receive a well-rounded liberal education while preparing specifically for nursing career opportunities. In addition to coursework related to medical ethics, nutrition, pharmacology, human anatomy, health assessment, nursing management, and patient psychology, you will spend time in extensive clinical rotations for hands-on experience. If you have already earned an associate’s degree in nursing, there are also RN to BSN programs available for an accelerated degree.

Become Licensed as a Registered Nurse

Once you have completed the BSN, you will need to apply for licensure as a registered nurse to legally practice in various healthcare settings. Requirements for practicing as an RN may vary greatly depending on your state of residence, but most will require applicants to meet specific educational guidelines, submit an application before graduation, complete a fingerprint background check, and pass the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX-RN) with flying colors.

Achieve a Master of Science in Nursing in Nursing Education

Since the Master of Science in Nursing is specifically available for registered nurses who are seeking specialty nursing areas, it is no surprise that nurse educators will need to pursue this advanced degree with a concentration in Nursing Education. Within an accredited MSN program, you will receive the leadership skills needed to provide classroom instruction with expertise in curriculum design, nursing theory, nursing research, student evaluation, and clinical practice. After completing the one to two-year MSN program, some aspiring nurse educators will continue towards earning a doctorate to teach at the master’s level at universities.

Pursue Certification as a Certified Nurse Educator

Certification in the nursing field is a mark of professionalism that establishes your excellence in the advanced specialty role of academic nurse educator with expertise. Since certification demonstrates to students, colleagues, academic administrators, and healthcare communities that you have met the highest standards of quality, you must become a Certified Nurse Educator through the National League for Nursing. To qualify for certification, you must have a valid RN license in the United States, have earned a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing education, have at least two years nursing employment, and pass an exam.

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Overall, nurse educators combine their clinical expertise in patient care with their passion for teaching to train nursing students at the LPN, ADN, BSN, and MSN degree levels. Once you follow this step-by-step guide to become a nurse educator, you can find employment at community colleges, universities, professional schools, and staff development programs in helping our nation fulfill major shortages in registered nurses.