The U.S. is currently experiencing a severe nursing educator shortage and according to the American Association of College of Nursing (AACN), almost 80,000 qualified applicants are turned away from nursing schools each year because of a shortage of nurse educators needed to train future nursing professionals. This in-demand career offers a high-level of job security, opportunities to advance quickly, and great personal reward.
“Most nurse educators are highly satisfied with their work and find the interaction with students quite rewarding; most take pride in the role they play in preparing nurses to care for their patients,” says Karen Whitham, Ed.D., MSN, RN, CNE, and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Nursing Programs at American Sentinel University. Whitham is also a certified nurse educator and a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the National League for Nursing.
Nurse educators are registered nurses with advanced education who also serve as teachers. Most nurse educators work as nurses before dedicating their careers to educating the future nursing workforce.
“Most nurse educators have extensive clinical experience, and many choose to continue to care for patients after becoming educators,” says Whitham. “But even if nurse educators no longer practice at the bedside, they must stay current with new nursing methods and technologies to stay on the leading edge of clinical practice.”
Nursing education offers great rewards
Whitham says that nursing education was the perfect career choice for her because she likes to collect knowledge. “Each time I learn something new, I learn just how much more knowledge is out there that I don’t know about.”
She shares her ‘Best Things About Being a Nurse Educator’ and thoughts about the most rewarding aspects of her job for those nurses considering nurse education as a career path.
Karen Whitham’s Top 10 Best Things About Being a Nurse Educator:
- Help shape the nurses that will have an impact on many patients, families, and other nurses long after the initial interaction
- Contribute to the body of nursing knowledge
- Get inspired by nursing students every day
- Form unique bonds with students
- Change career path without changing careers
- Be remembered by students long after shaping their career
- Wear something other than scrubs to work
- Work emergencies that no longer “circle the drain”
- Work hours that occur mainly during daylight
- Make the profession of nursing better
Whitham says one of the most significant rewards of being a nurse educator is to teach appropriately so that students have the foundation they need to respond to new technologies and their use in the nursing practice, while not devaluing the human elements in healthcare.
“Nurse educators play a critical role in healthcare by serving as role models for future nurses and providing the leadership needed to implement evidence-based nursing practice needed to strengthen the nursing profession,” she adds.
American Sentinel’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with a specialization in educational leadership is designed to provide nurse education leaders with credentials that validate credibility and competence to academic and business leaders. Students are taught by experienced nurse educators and surrounded by colleagues who share their education-focused goals.