As our nation faces a critical nursing shortage as the total number of job openings for nurses is expected to surpass the one million mark by 2022, there is no better time than now to take the steps needed to become a nurse educator. One of the leading reasons behind the shortage of experienced registered nurses is the fact that nursing schools across the United States are struggling to hire faculty members to meet the rising demands of healthcare reform. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that American universities turn away nearly 80,000 qualified nursing students each year simply due to an insufficient number of faculty members. In order to prepare you for fulfilling this dire shortage and shaping the nation's next generation of professional nurses, below is a step-by-step guide on how to become a nurse educator.
Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The first step towards building a rewarding career as a nursing educator is to obtain your own education in professional nursing practice by completing an accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at a four-year post-secondary institution. In addition to introducing you to the basic fundamentals of nursing practice, BSN programs will develop the interpersonal skills that will be useful for clearly communicating complex concepts to students and creating an easy rapport with future nurses. After graduation, you will be qualified to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to receive licensure as a registered nurse. It is highly recommended that you then obtain several years of work experience within a nursing specialty area that interests you.
Complete a Master's or Doctoral Degree in Nursing Education
Once you have logged a significant number of hours work as an RN, the next step is to apply for admissions into an accredited graduate nursing school. Many nurse educators decide to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with a specialization in nursing education, which will typically consist of just one year of full-time studies. However, it is important to note that a doctoral degree is typically required to teach at many universities, so receiving a Ph.D. or Ed.D. with a specialization in nursing education will open more advanced faculty positions. Along with building clinical expertise, graduate degree programs for nurse educators will deliver courses covering curriculum development, program planning, instructional methods, professional ethics, learning assessment, and teaching practicum.
Apply for Taking the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) Exam
Finally, you should consider applying for certification through the National League for Nursing as a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) to further distinguish yourself as a teacher with the competencies to share knowledge and skills in an intellectually stimulating environment. Before sitting for the certification exam, you will be required to have at least a master's degree with a major emphasis in nursing education or a minimum of two years of full-time employment in an academic nursing program. Within the CNE examination, you will be evaluated on your abilities to facilitate learning, utilize assessment strategies, participate in curriculum design, pursue self-evaluation, engage in scholarship, and function effectively in the academic community.
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Overall, nurse educators are in high demand to shape the evolving future of the healthcare industry by training new nurses in universities, colleges, community colleges, vocational schools, and staff development programs. If you are interested in teaching what you love to significantly change lives, be sure to follow these steps to become a nurse educator and begin a prestigious career in educating motivated young nurses.