Registered nurses who wish to share their own knowledge and clinical experience to influence the future of health care sometimes opt to become nurse educators. There are several different nurse educator jobs. Nurses in this field may teach nursing students at a college or university or teach already-qualified nurses in hospital-based continuing education classes. They may also lead classes for family members of the ill or may teach the general public through community education programs.
Many nurse educator jobs are based at a college or university. In this type of position, nurse educators may work with undergraduate- or graduate-level nursing students, giving lectures, administering exams, assigning papers, supervising labs, and sometimes acting as an adviser. They may also work with other departmental faculty to plan program curriculum. These nurse educators may or may not continue to practice nursing, although they will likely be expected to publish their own research from time to time.
Some nurse educator jobs involve working with already-qualified nurses who wish to expand or update their medical knowledge through continuing education classes. This type of position is often based at a hospital, where the nurse educator may simultaneously serve as a clinical nurse or may work solely as part of a staff education program. Often this type of educator is an advanced practice nurse with highly specialized knowledge in a particular aspect of nursing, such as psychiatric nursing. She delivers lectures to working nurses who wish to become more knowledgeable in her area of medical expertise.
Certain nurse educator jobs involve working with individuals who do not have a medical background. For instance, some nurse educators may teach hospital-based classes for family members of those with serious illnesses such as cancer or Alzheimer’s. These nurse educators teach their students about the nature of their family member’s illness, how it is likely to progress, and how to care for the patient at home.
Other nurse educators use their medical expertise to teach the general public about health issues. This type of work can take many different forms, from one-time speaking engagements to multi-week courses. For instance, a nurse educator may be hired to address a retiree club about a current health concern such as an influenza epidemic or may teach an advanced first aid course at a community center.
Generally, nurse educator jobs require a registered nurse qualification. Some — particularly those based in colleges or universities — may also require a master’s degree or PhD. Whether or not a nurse educator continues to practice nursing, she must stay up to date on the latest advancements in the field of nursing to be an effective teacher. She may thus be obligated to regularly complete continuing education classes.