Nurse Educator: A Day in the Life

Demand for highly skilled nursing professionals is growing. As more nurses in different specialized fields are required, the need for experienced instructors to educate them has increased in kind. That’s where nurse educators, also called nursing instructors, come in.

After furthering their own education with an advanced degree like master’s or doctorate, registered nurses who choose to become instructors leverage their years of experience in the field to help guide nursing students. Someone in this profession could choose to work in a teaching hospital, college or nursing school, providing instruction in both academic and clinical settings. Employers looking to hire for this job prefer at least a master’s level education and anywhere from two to five years of clinical experience.

Pursuing a career as a nurse educator means excellent communication and critical thinking skills, and a deep knowledge of the area in which they’re providing instruction. Someone who considers themselves a lifelong student with a passion for teaching others would fit well in this role.

Here, we’ll go over what nurse educators do, how much a nurse educator can expect to make, and whether this is a job that’s expected to be in demand in coming years.

What A Nurse Educator Does

Nurse educators are first and foremost teachers, though some choose to continue clinical work in conjunction with their educational career. Depending on preference, someone in this role could either teach classes in broader areas of nursing or focus on a more specialized aspect of the field, like pediatrics or long-term care.

A nurse educator will eventually be expected to update the course they’re teaching, which means continuing education in nursing is a requirement of the job. This is one reason why nurse educators are expected to be on the cutting edge of current clinical nursing practices. They must always stay up-to-date regarding the latest nursing trends, methods, developments, and technologies being used in the field, because someone in this role must be able to break down these topics in an understandable way to their students.

For that reason, some nursing educators continue their clinical work and become part of professional nursing organizations to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the nursing world. Some of the day-to-day job duties of a nursing educator include:

  • Designing course curricula
  • Developing classes and programs of study
  • Teaching, advising, and evaluating students
  • Evaluating and revising educational programs and individual classes
  • Promoting discussion
  • Overseeing their students’ clinical practice
  • Serving as a role model and mentor for students
  • Documenting educational outcomes
  • Engaging in scholarly work (peer review, research)
  • Speaking at nursing conferences
  • Contributing to the academic community via leadership roles
  • Maintaining clinical competence
  • Writing grant proposals

Salary Potential and Education Requirements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean salary for someone working as a nurse educator is just over $71,000, and the top ten percent of nurse educators can make six figures. The BLS has projected a need for nurses going into the future, with one million new nurses needed by the year 2020. As such, the projected job growth for a nurse educator at a postsecondary institution is above average; the field is expected to grow by 19 percent by 2024.

Colleges, technical schools, universities, hospitals, and long-term care facilities all offer options for employment in this role, and they favor applicants with advanced degrees. An online masters of science in nursing (MSN) degree from D’Youville can be the perfect way to set yourself down the path to becoming a nursing educator. Our program is designed for nursing professionals already working in the field who want to take their career to the next level. We give you the means to tailor our program to your needs, learn the skills you’ll require to train the next generation of nurses, and gain valuable experience.