If you’ve always been fascinated by the idea of becoming a nurse educator, there’s a good reason. Whether you realize it or not, there are a lot of benefits, both personal and professional, that come with taking the plunge to advance your education so that you can share your knowledge with others. And to get the wheels turning on that internal conversation, we thought we might name just a few.
Nurse educators rest on the cutting edge of healthcare
When things really start to shake up in the world of healthcare, be it new methods, technology or breakthroughs, nurse educators are the first to know. Whether your focus is more general or an area of specialty, such as pediatrics, family health or oncology, nurse educators have a remarkable degree of access to information, resources and leaders in the healthcare community.
Needless to say, all that exposure helps to shape an immensely intellectually stimulating and innovative environment.
(Cue that hard-to-achieve little thing known as “job satisfaction.”)
Nurse educators are a hot commodity
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, 1 million replacement nurses will be needed by the time we mosey on into 2020. And yet, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, about 80,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools last year. Why? Because nursing schools did not have nearly as many educators on deck as they did potential students.
Translation: Nurse educators are sittin’ pretty as far as demand goes.
There are resources available to help get you there
Thanks to all that high demand, there’s a good amount of federal and private funding available to assist students seeking a graduate nursing education.
Moreover, the Nurse Reinvestment Act offers a student loan repayment program for nurses who have agreed to assume a faculty role for a period of time after graduation.
Comparable programs are likewise available via the National Health Service Corps, the Bureau of Health Professions and more.
You don’t have to sacrifice being on the ground
Becoming a nurse educator does not mean retiring your scrubs, especially if you choose to do so only on a part-time basis. Or throughout the academic year.
Sure, you could return to nursing school (don’t panic), this time around as a faculty member (that’s why), teaching courses, developing lesson plans and overseeing clinical practice. And yes—this shift into a more stable, educational environment may really appeal to you, especially if all that hands-on experience has you feeling a bit worse for the wear.
However, this highly academic route, be it nursing school, a community college or a technical school, is only an option—not the rule. Outside of a strictly educational setting, nurse educators can work, often as clinical supervisors, in hospitals, hospital-based nursing schools, long-term care facilities and community healthcare agencies.
Did we mention the hours are shorter?
Aside from the opportunity to transition from a labor-intensive, highly chaotic work environment to one that’s, well, calmer, nurse educators serving as clinical supervisors or staff development officers often do not have to work the dreaded 12-hour or overnight shifts, as clinical nurses do.
Finally—a flexible schedule!
There’s room to grow
Nurse educators are constantly evolving in a practical sense, as it is their duty to remain current with both methods and technology. It also helps that engaging in scholarly research, attending or speaking at conferences, collaborating with health professionals and having inside access to cutting-edge developments are a major part of the job description.
But that’s not the only avenue up. Nurse educators likewise have ample room to grow on a professional level—whether that’s a shifting into an administrative role to manage courses, author and review texts, or develop the next generation of programs; or serving on boards, enjoying access to professional associations and connecting with leading specialists.
Furthermore, as the demand for nurse educators continues to grow, nursing schools are being moved to offer more competitive salaries. So there’s that.
Nurse educators shape the future
Nurse educators are in a unique position—not only are educators recognized for their competence and skill, and move in a professional circle of colleagues who are similarly experienced, but they also get to spend time with fresh, enthusiastic and still-growing nurse novices.
In other words, nurse educators have a major hand in shaping the future, working with students who are studying for an ASN, a BSN and more. Remember how taxing nursing school was, and how much you appreciated a skilled and passionate teacher, mentor and guide? As a nurse educator, you can be that teacher, mentor and guide for somebody else.
Plus, there seem to be a whole lotta similarities between teachers and caretakers. Think: patience, communication skills and curiosity (to name just a few).
Teaching is a way to expand your world
It’s true—stepping into the role of an educator can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it should be an enriching experience, too.
Your many years on the job may have armed with you skills and a level of competency that stretches well beyond average, but there’s always something new an educator can learn from their students.
Because nurse educators don’t just shape their students—they’re shaped by their student nurses, too.
Nurses, have you been toying with the idea of becoming a nurse educator? Tell us which avenue and area you’re most interested in using the comments section below!