Nurse Educators: Preparing the Next Generation of Nurses

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Nurse educator with nursing students

Nurse educators today have an essential and important job in the professional medical world. They are tasked with strengthening the nursing workforce, serving as role models, and providing the leadership needed to implement evidence-based practice. Working in both the classroom and practice settingtheir role is to prepare and mentor future generations of nurses.

Because of the rate at which experienced nurses are retiring and leaving the workforce, new nursing professionals are now in constant demand. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for some 1.1 million new registered nurses to meet the new demand and replace retirees. Nurse educators prepare new nurses, overseeing their education and training for their positions at the bedside or in a technical role.

“Nurse educators are responsible for designing, implementing, evaluating, and revising academic and continuing education programs for nurses,” reports Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, a coalition of 43 nursing and healthcare organizations.

“These include formal academic programs that lead to a degree or certificate, or more informal continuing education programs designed to meet individual learning needs. Nurse educators are critical players in assuring quality educational experiences that prepare the nursing workforce for a diverse, ever-changing healthcare environment.”

Duquesne University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program offers registered nurses the opportunity to advance in their careers and play a role in furthering healthcare education for future generations. Classes focus on foundations in education theory for professional practice disciplines, innovative curriculum design and evaluation, emerging trends and innovations in the teaching of nursing, advanced critical nursing, nursing faculty role practicum, and information on the legal environment in nursing education.

Duties Of A Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are RNs whose education includes advanced clinical training in a healthcare specialty. As such, they serve in numerous roles, ranging from part-time clinical faculty to the dean of a college of nursing. Responsibilities may include:

  • Designing curricula
  • Developing courses/programs of study
  • Teaching and guiding learners
  • Evaluating learning
  • Documenting the outcomes of the educational process

Additionally, nurse educators assist students and practicing nurses in identifying their individual learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. Aside from teaching, nurse educators in the academic setting have responsibilities, not unlike those in other disciplines, such as:

  • Advising students
  • Engaging in scholarly work (e.g., research)
  • Participating in professional associations
  • Speaking/presenting at nursing conferences
  • Contributing to the academic community through leadership roles
  • Engaging in peer review
  • Maintaining clinical competence
  • Writing grant proposals

The most successful nurse educators possess excellent communication skills. They must be able to clearly convey their teaching goals and expectations to their students. Time management is also essential. Nurse educators should be able to efficiently split their time and attention between the students they teach and the faculty and/or healthcare professionals they work with on a regular basis.

Salary Range

The salary of nurse educators varies depending on the position and seniority. According to the BLS, the median salary for a nurse instructor as of March 2017 is $69,130. A nurse practitioner’s median salary is $100,910.

The Demand For And Future Of Nurse Educators

Other than the retirement rate, one of the primary reasons for the recent shortage of nursing professionals is that more students want to study nursing than there are faculty members to teach them. In many cases, according to an article on the All Nursing Schools website, academic and medical institutions have to turn away applicants, even those with stellar qualifications, because they lack the resources and personnel to accommodate a large number of students.

Because of the shortage, nurse educators are currently in high demand. With the high number of nurses who are retiring (more than 500,000 last year, according to the BLS), the nursing field is experiencing massive growth in most areas. In fact, the BLS also predicts that registered nurse employment will grow by 16 percent through 2024. These new nurses will need instruction, which is where nurse educators can be instrumental to the future of the nursing profession. They are needed not only in college and university classrooms but also in hospitals to ensure that nurses gain the continuing education they need.

About Duquesne’s Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program

The Duquesne University School of Nursing is top-ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs. The MSN program’s concentration in nursing education provides aspiring educators with the skills and knowledge that they will need to instruct future professionals. For more information, visit Duquesne University’s MSN program page.


Nurse, “Nurse Educator”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Nurse Practitioners”
All Nursing Schools, “Nurse Educator Salary”