educators pursue

What academic roles can nurse educators pursue?


Gaining the qualifications and experience needed to work in nursing education opens up a new world of opportunities, but individuals might be wondering exactly what roles they would be qualified to take on. This article explores the many different roles that individuals can take after nursing education to become a nurse educator and what they involve.

An overview of nurse educators

The basic definition of a nurse educator is a nurse who is dedicated to helping others by training or preparing them for the role. However, the definition can also be extended to include someone who works to help healthcare providers advance and develop new ways of working. It is the sort of role that could be ideal for someone who enjoys teaching others and also has a high level of experience and knowledge on the clinical side. 

It is clear how important nurse educators are as the key to the future of the healthcare industry. They help to teach the next generation of nurses and can also improve the overall way of working for the benefit of everyone involved. However, that is not all there is to it. Nurse educators can also play their part in shaping the future of the healthcare sector in a number of other ways. For example, they may be deeply involved in carrying out research projects that investigate new methods of treatment or technology.

This role can also involve creating the right curriculum for new students to follow or working out how to help them carry out essential tasks in a simulated environment. Because of this diversity, for many nurses it is something worth looking into regardless of their current skills or what they most enjoy about the nursing role.

By examining some of the common roles in nursing education, individuals interested in this rewarding career path may find the inspiration they need to take the first step.

Clinical nurse instructor

Research shows that the majority of nurse educators work in an academic role, which could be in a university, a college, or a professional training school for example. One of the roles in these institutions is that of the clinical nurse instructor.

This person is a Registered Nurse (RN) who works in a nursing school and is responsible for taking nursing students through the hands-on training they receive as they learn. Therefore, it is a hugely important role in helping newcomers get to grips with the real-world tasks they need to learn about.

Anyone who wants to be a clinical nurse instructor needs to have good clinical expertise in the nursing role. They should also have excellent communication and organization skills as well as leadership ability.     

Nurse lecturer

Nurse lecturers are trained RNs who work to educate future nurses through lectures. They work primarily in higher education institutions such as universities. They are also typically expected to visit hospitals and other healthcare centers to support nurses who are on placement as part of their training.

The main task is delivering classes through tutorials and lectures, but this job can also be more varied. For example, a nurse lecturer might be asked to teach more advanced material to undergraduates as well as postgraduate students. There is also the possibility of being asked to contribute to research material.

As with the majority of these roles, many nurse lecturers start their careers by gaining clinical experience in an RN role. Having gained experience and confidence in the role, they then look to advance their career by helping others.

Curriculum developer

The role of this nurse educator lays the foundation for every other role on this list. This is because a curriculum developer has the task of making sure that the training curriculum for students is up-to-date and delivers everything the new nurses need.

The curriculum includes all the courses and learning activities that are involved in the program. Given the fast-moving nature of the modern healthcare sector, it’s important for universities and nursing schools to keep curriculums updated.

When the curriculum is comprehensive and includes all of the contemporary information needed to perform a nursing role, it will help the future generation of nurses to fully prepare for their exams and careers. 

Simulation specialist

Simulation has a huge role to play in nursing training, as it gives students the chance to gain valuable experience and practice their skills in a safe and controlled environment. The likes of high-quality mannequins known as manikins are used to make the simulations as accurate as possible.

Using manikins, they can carry out real-life scenarios in the best possible training conditions. These manikins can breathe, produce a heartbeat, and carry out several functions that make them extremely useful in a training setting.

Trainee nurses learn to apply intravenous drugs and catheters, provide shocks to the patient’s heart, and carry out many other vital tasks that require practice and experience. A simulation specialist is responsible for setting up and managing this training environment. They need updated knowledge of the latest technology as well as the techniques and skills needed to carry out the nursing role effectively.

But how much do nurse educators make if they take on a nurse simulator or other role? The national average salary in the US is just over $84,000, with the median sitting at around $75,000. To attain these high-paying roles, it all starts with education. The University of Indianapolis, for example, offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a focus on nursing education. This course has a part-time format and allows online coursework with a clinical placement. The curriculum covers learning theories and models that are applicable for nurses looking to become simulation educators, curriculum developers, clinical nurse educators, or any other nurse educator role.

With all of these nursing education roles, nurses need to have a current RN license and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This is followed by a graduate degree in nursing education and then a national nurse educator certification. Once all these courses and licenses have been obtained, nurses can then take the MSN at Indianapolis University to further their knowledge and specialize in nurse education.

Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE)

CNEs educate other nurses in a healthy setting. Typically, those who enter this role are highly respected for their skills and experience. They should also have well-developed leadership and organizational skills.

The key duty of a CNE is to help nursing students learn everything they need to know to work in a nursing role. As they work in a healthcare environment rather than an academic setting, their role often involves collaborating with different teams to ensure the best care for their patients while students learn.

They may also carry out classroom-style teaching and student evaluation processes. As part of this role, a CNE will track the progress of their students and assess how they are improving as they learn more of the vital skills needed for the profession. Many people react well to having a tutor or mentor who takes a genuine personal interest in their development.

Nursing researcher

The role of nursing researcher, or research nurse, plays a crucial role in making sure that new treatments are fully explored and tested before being rolled out. A nursing researcher will be involved as a part of a clinical research team that investigates the latest medical innovations and new types of treatment that need to be assessed.

The role comes with a mixture of duties. Part of the job is about caring for patients taking part in trials. Another part involves keeping complete records of the trials and their results, with an element of academic reporting also involved.

This mixture can vary according to the exact project or study that the nursing researcher is involved in. For example, in some cases, there may be more need to interact with the patient or care for them. Patient interviews may also be required, with reports drawn up after the study has concluded.

Why should nurses be interested in these roles?

These are all interesting jobs in nursing that give nurses a clear career path with good salary rewards and the chance for a high level of job satisfaction too. The satisfaction of training new nurses or carrying out any of the other crucial roles explored above can make them highly rewarding jobs.

Many nurses go through a clinical role before finding the chance to move into an educator position. Experienced nurses see educator roles as a chance to expand their knowledge and also to give something back to the healthcare sector by passing on their knowledge.

Others may target the educator role from the start of their career. No matter when they make the decision to move in this direction, they need to be sure that this is the right move. Ideally, they should find out everything they can about the particular role they are aiming for and, if possible, speak to someone who is currently carrying it out.

How to decide which path to take

With so many different roles to consider, nurses might wonder how to get started on choosing a nurse educator role that suits them. As many of these roles are now in great demand in the US job market, nurses should carefully consider each of them before coming to a decision.

The salary level on offer is obviously a key consideration when looking for any new career. Yet, since these different nursing roles all offer impressive remuneration packages, this may not be the final deciding factor. Instead, nurses may decide to put more emphasis on thinking about which role suits their skills and personality best. 

Among the factors to consider are the type of workplace settings and whether a more academic role or something that involves more hands-on nursing is preferable. Nurses should also consider how passionate they are about teaching others in each of the diverse ways this article has explored.

As several of these roles are quite similar, nurses may be more comfortable leaving their options open for as long as possible. The same skills are required in many of the roles, so nurses can certainly reach a certain point in their training and nursing career before needing to make a firm decision on what they want to do next.

What is the next step?

Before making the next move, nurses should think about the skills, qualifications, and experience that they need for the role or roles that interest them the most. They can then compare them to where they are currently at in their career, which means that an honest appraisal of their current situation is needed.

After evaluating job satisfaction in their current role, nurses can create the personal training and development plan they need to reach the stage where they can start to apply for nurse educator positions like those listed above.

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