• NU_Nurse Educators

    By Tina Eslinger-Vaughn

    Educating patients is a typical responsibility for many registered nurses (RNs), so it shouldn't come as a surprise that many RNs choose to become nurse educators later in their careers.

    Nurse educators may teach both practicing and future nurses the skill set required to achieve career goals such as an advanced degree or certification in their field. Fortuitously, nurses who are interested in becoming nurse educators have rarely had a better opportunity to pursue such a career path. More than half of all nursing schools reported nursing faculty vacancies in 2010, according to the Campaign for Nursing. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) paints a similarly dire picture of the nurse educator shortage, as the organization has conducted a number of studies that have concluded that nurse educator shortages are severely impacting students.

    As the demand for nurse educators continues to grow, policymakers and influential nurses alike are urging more RNs to pursue a career in the field of nursing education. For example, a recent AACN report, "2013-2014 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing," concluded that nearly 80,000 nursing applicants were turned down in 2013 because of a drastic shortage of nurse educators. According to the study, "Almost two-thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting qualified applicants into entry-level baccalaureate programs."  Unless the United States successfully creates more nurse educators, the health care system could be significantly impacted, especially in light of recent health care reform that has given millions of people access to the health care system. 

    Nurse educators must have an active RN license as well as a master of science in nursing. By pursuing a graduate degree, aspiring nurse educators can build on their practical experience and hone in on an area of expertise. In a graduate program, nurse educators will learn both advanced nursing theory and the science of learning, including how to create curricula and how to effectively communicate with students. Some nurse educators go on to achieve a doctorate in nursing. Though a doctorate is not required for every teaching position, it can be beneficial for an educational position.

    Nurse educators should also complete a rigorous assessment to show they are qualified, according to the National League of Nursing, which administers the Certified Nurse Educator Examination. Sitting for and successfully passing this test, the organization asserts, "is a mark of professionalism," illustrating "to students, peers, and the academic and health care communities that the highest standards of excellence are being met."*

    The door of opportunity is wide open for those who desire to pursue a career in nursing education. And while the idea of accomplishing this feat may seem daunting, the road to get there doesn't have to be. Fortunately, there are programs such as Kaplan University's Master of Science in Nursing, with a nurse educator specialization, that can help you realize you dream.  Kaplan University has helped nurses earn their degrees online for over 10 years. And with the addition of a Doctor of Nursing Practice program, the University hopes to become a life-long educational partner to the medical community. For those interested in this career path, take the time to reach out and learn more-it's a win-win for all.  



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    Tina Eslinger-Vaughn is an adjunct professor at the School of Nursing at Kaplan University.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University. Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.


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  • * Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.

    Although certain programs at Kaplan University are designed to prepare students to take various certification or licensing exams, the University cannot guarantee the student will pass those exams. In some cases, field experience, additional coursework, and/or background checks may be necessary to take or to successfully pass the exams. Students should research the requirements in the state in which they intend to seek employment.

    At this time, the Doctor of Nursing Practice is available only in select states. Speak with an Admissions Advisor for more information.

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