Q & A: Becoming a Nurse Educator

Q & A: Becoming a Nurse Educator


What is a nurse educator exactly?

A nurse educator is a current or former nurse that has become a faculty member at a nursing school. Nurse educators serve an essential role as teachers, trainers, mentors, and role models for nursing students as they pass on their clinical expertise to the next generation.

Nurse educators may teach in a classroom setting, a clinical setting or both. With the increase in accredited online education programs, there are also increasing numbers of distance teaching jobs for nurse educators. Some nurse educators may also have opportunities lead or collaborate on research projects.

What kinds of degree programs have nurse educators as teachers?

Former nurses are teaching at every level of professional nursing education, which includes ADN, LPN/LVN, BSN, and Advanced Practice Nursing degree programs. Nurses with specialty areas of expertise may teach those clinical skills in more than one degree program.

What are the credentials a nurse needs to become a nurse educator?

The educational requirements for nurse educators vary by degree level. Nurse educators teaching LPN/LVN programs almost always hold a BSN degree or higher. Teachers of RN programs more frequently hold a Masters degree, but at times RNs are hired if they are experienced nurses and qualified to teach. Nurse educators teaching Masters degree programs usually have a Master’s degree or higher.

Today many nursing degree programs may allow students to specialize in Nursing Education. For example, University of Phoenix offers a Masters of Science degree in Nursing & Health Care Education, which prepares nurses to teach and practice clinically.

The National League for Nursing (NLN) has recently created a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) examination, which is currently an optional certification test that allows nurses to demonstrate their expertise in Nursing Education. This credential was created as part of a movement by the NLN to distinguish nursing education as a professional specialization.

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What are the job opportunities like?

Presently there is a shortage of nurses in the US to meet the needs of the aging baby boomer population. However, there is an even more critical shortage of nurse educators to train the next generation of nursing students. The NLN reported that nursing schools need to increase their enrollment by approximately 30% to meet the projected needs of the nation, and the current full time nursing school faculty members are only equip to handle about 50% of that student population. Because of this, it is an excellent time for current nurses to transition to an academic role, or to consider a Masters degree with an emphasis in nursing or healthcare education.

Get an Advanced Degree through the Nurse Faculty Loan Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has entered into agreements with schools of nursing for the establishment of student loan funds to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty.

The schools are able to offer loans from the fund to students who are enrolled full-time in eligible advanced degree nursing programs with education components that will prepare them to teach. Loan recipients who complete the nursing education program may cancel up to 85% of the loan in exchange for service as full-time nurse faculty at a school of nursing.

Eligible applicants are accredited, public or private collegiate schools of nursing located in the U.S. or its territories that offer a master’s and/or doctoral degree program in nursing with an education component to prepare students to serve as faculty at a school of nursing.

Est Annual Max Award: $61,289
Est Number of Awards: 75
Program Contact Name: Denise Thompson
Program Contact Telephone No.: (301) 443-6333
Program Contact Email:

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