If you aspire to further your nursing career as a nurse educator, this career change can be especially rewarding as you work with nurses to improve their clinical skills. Many nurse educators follow the route of earning an advanced degree, which is a proven pathway to becoming a nurse educator.
The role of a nurse educator
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The nurse educator is instrumental in teaching and mentoring future generations of nurses. While instruction can be a crucial part of the nurse educator’s role, mentoring can be pivotal for new nurses who need a listening ear and wise words of help.
While many nurse educators work in academic settings, there are multiple environments where nurse educators are key team members. They develop and refine curricula for nursing students and new nurses.
Much of the curricula focuses on evidence-based practice and clinical skills that serve the needs of the patients. The combination of nursing experience and a desire to teach can be a powerful way to have a positive impact on future nurses.
What degree is required to be a nurse educator?
Expanding your career choices with a graduate degree can open many doors, including becoming a nurse educator. An FNP program online, such as the course offered by Walsh University, can give you the degree you seek with the flexibility you need if you choose to continue working.
Nurse educators and family nurse practitioners share common requirements that help them do the best job of helping others in many ways. Both medical specialties rely on great communication to explain difficult concepts well and in understandable language.
A second quality that each specialist should possess is confidence. Patients and students alike rely on a nurse practitioner and nurse educator for accurate information and the ability to calm their fears. Students and patients are in an unusual environment that can cause fear and uncertainty, so it can be important to assure them in a confident manner.
The third quality of a nurse educator is being a problem-solver. Whether you have a patient or student with a thorny question or a different outlook, critical thinking and problem-solving are beneficial skills for this role.
Work Environments for a nurse educator
Once you complete an advanced degree in family nursing practice, there are numerous environments where you can put your clinical nursing and educator skills to work. The variety of work situations lets you find the right fit to develop future nurses and help advance the nursing field.
A nurse educator and academics
An academic setting is a natural fit for a nurse educator. As a leader of student instruction, you will use your clinical experience combined with an upper-level degree to teach nursing students about the nursing field. Many nurse educators prefer to develop a curriculum that reflects the concepts they have found to be essential in hands-on nursing.
At both community colleges and universities, qualified nurse educators are instructing future nurses in data-driven nursing practices and best patient care techniques. Some nurse educators teach in an academic setting and work in a clinical setting.
While developing a viable curriculum is part of the responsibilities of a nurse practitioner, you will also advise students in their coursework and mentor them as they work toward a nursing degree. This can be the ideal marriage of teaching nursing content and imparting clinical expertise.
A nurse educator in a hospital setting
The role of a nurse educator in a hospital setting is different from the academic setting. A clinical nurse educator focuses on two main areas: teaching continuing education requirements to current nursing personnel and developing clinical programs to improve patient care.
Part of your responsibility includes ongoing research to keep abreast of current nursing trends, federal regulations, and best practices. You will work with colleagues on writing grant proposals for research projects and attend nursing conferences. There will also be times when you speak at nursing or other medical conferences. You might be asked to sit on peer review committees and advise nursing staff on policies and practices.
As new nurse graduates and transfer nurses enter the hospital, you will oversee their rotations and orientations. Your role as a mentor and trusted source of information makes you a crucial part of the hospital staff.
Becoming a nurse educator in a clinical setting offers job variety, as you will be handling the ongoing education of new nurses, current nurses, and other medical staff.
A nurse educator and staff development
A nurse educator can hold the job of staff development for a hospital or medical clinic. Every nurse is required by law to obtain continuing education for certificates and some procedures. The nurse educator instructs these classes and certifies proof that the staff are up to date.
Staff development can also include overseeing employee health screenings and vaccinations. Some staff development positions appoint the nurse educator as the infection control officer, ensuring that proper masking and other requirements are being followed.
A nurse educator and community health programs
Community health is an important part of the well-being of a larger area. As a nurse educator, you will identify health trends that negatively impact the community members and work to find solutions that remedy the problems.
This role includes chronic disease identification and education. Heart disease, diabetes, COPD and other chronic diseases can be prevented with the right teaching to encourage healthy habits that replace unhealthy choices. A nurse educator is a critical link in the ongoing instruction for better health for individuals and communities. Community health also addresses managing chronic health issues so that they don’t worsen.
Mental health, domestic violence and mother/baby health are part of the nurse educator’s oversight. You will work with schools, community centers, the health department and local non-profits to disseminate information that can help community members get the help they need.
You will advise people on health and wellness habits through healthcare services and wellness opportunities that can improve their lives. Many nurse educators work at the state and national levels to effect policies that can help people get more resources in their communities.
A nurse educator and employee health
Many large corporations have nurse educators on staff to instruct their employees in good health practices. As a nurse, you can also administer vaccinations and advise on preventive measures to manage diseases and health problems.
You will be teaching parts of the company about wellness habits and other positive changes that can impact their daily lives and improve their health. You can teach about weight loss methods, exercise options and other health changes that can make their personal and work lives better. The goal is the prevention of diseases and illnesses that can interrupt their work and cause them to miss work due to illness.
A nurse educator and patient instruction
When patients receive a diagnosis of a disease, they often need extensive help and teaching to maintain the various ways that they have to manage the illness. Nurse educators are ideally suited to teach patients and their families how to approach a diagnosis.
Procedures are unfamiliar and frequently frightening, so the nurse educator can explain treatment options and medical procedures in understandable terms. Most treatment plans are specific to a patient, and the nurse educator can explain what needs to happen along the way.
Patient instruction involves answering questions from patients and families while allaying their fears. You are a first-line patient advocate, speaking up for them to other medical providers when necessary.
Because doctors and other medical professionals are usually busy, they don’t have the time to sit and fully explain the disease and treatment plan, and this is where you step in to fill the gap for patients.
A nurse educator and substance abuse centers
A nurse educator can be perfectly suited to work in a substance abuse center where patients need careful instruction and encouragement to break the cycle of substance abuse. As substance abuse affects not only the patient but also the entire family, they often need help understanding the addiction and what needs to happen for the patient to break free of it.
Substance abuse involves many emotions, and the nurse educator can help patients and their loved ones navigate those feelings.
A nurse educator and home health
Home health is an increasing area of opportunity for nurse educators. As the population ages, home health involves teaching and enhancing the experience for patients who have to remain at home.
You will use evidence-based practices to improve the care that homebound patients receive. As you learn more about a disease and treatment plan, you can apply innovative approaches to disease and chronic illness management.
While you assess a homecare patient, you might need to attend to a wound or aid with physical therapy. The mental health of the patient is also important, so you should assess how the patient is feeling. When needed, you will refer the patient to other medical providers for specialized services.
A primary goal of homecare is to prevent future hospitalizations as the patient heals from treatments. In addition, you will be continually teaching the patient about better health habits that can delay or stop the progression of the disease.
Hopefully, you found this article helpful. If you are considering becoming a nurse educator, why not look into enrolling in an online FNP program?