RN to BSN: Your career as a nursing educator

September 18, 2017 · 5 min read · By ASU Online
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, there will be over one million jobs for RNs by the year 2022.While many have attributed this deficit to an aging baby boomer population and increasing prevalence of chronic disease, there may be a largely overlooked factor also at play - a diminishing pool of experienced nurses who also act as educators.

Nursing is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country

In fact, studies by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) show that more than 40,000 applicants to baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs have been turned away. This is not because they lack the qualifications but because there simply aren’t enough faculty to teach them.

It is projected that the nursing shortage will continue until as late as 2025. In order to effectively combat this, the community must recruit individuals who are as passionate about patient care as they are about education. For those who fall into this category, expanding their knowledge base through an RN to BSN program like the one offered through Arizona State University Online is a foundational step on the path to becoming a nursing educator. This focused study can prepare students for entry level positions in the world of nursing education, launching a rewarding new career path that can help respond to the looming shortage of caregivers.

Nursing students practicing assembling medical equipment
Nursing students practicing assembling medical equipment.

Responsibilities of the nurse educator

Nurse educators can work in public and private colleges and universities, professional schools and junior or community colleges instructing nursing students in a variety of subjects in order to adequately prepare them for a career in the field. On a day to day basis, postsecondary nurse educators may be expected to perform the following tasks:

  • Teach courses in their given subject area
  • Work with students to improve their knowledge and career skills
  • Develop course outlines and syllabi for the courses they are responsible for teaching
  • Plan lessons and assignments
  • Deliver classes using a variety of technology, including simulations and labs
  • Work with fellow nurse educators to develop and modify curriculum based on new technology and the needs of their students
  • Assess student progress by grading assignments, papers, exams and clinicals
  • Mentor students through the program and into the workforce
  • Keep up to date with progress in their chosen field
  • Conduct cutting edge research to advance the nursing field as a whole
  • Publish new research and analysis in academic journals and publications
  • Serve on committees that review and recommend policies, make budget decisions and be involved in hiring and promotions

Those who work in the field of nursing education likely have different areas of expertise and thus have different responsibilities at the college or hospital that they perform their duties. Some solely teach introductory courses while others teach specialty content, promote evidence-based practice or develop cutting edge research that advances the field. No matter the role, a majority of postsecondary nursing educators enjoy their positions as it gives them an opportunity to pass on their nursing expertise to students and staff who are equally passionate about the nursing profession.

Key skills that nurse educators should possess

Education can be a highly rewarding career path for those who have a love for nursing and a passion for molding minds. Furthermore, there are a number of other qualities that can help make postsecondary nurse educators excel in their field. These include:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Sharp interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability and resourcefulness
  • Strong speaking skills
  • Writing skills
  • Good bedside manner
  • Strong networking skills
  • Extensive clinical experience

In addition, many learning institutions require an adequate level of clinical experience as well as an advanced degree. Earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing is among the first stepping stones to qualifying for a career in nursing education and can also lead to instruction for clinical courses.

“If you haven’t worked in a real-world clinical setting, employers may not see you as a desirable teaching candidate,” Donna Swope, a nursing educator writes. “You [also] need to love teaching and interacting with students. You may know everything about your area of expertise, but students will dread coming to your class if you don’t love teaching it. When you love teaching, you transfer the desire to learn to your students.”

Compensation and career outlook

According to the BLS, the career outlook for nursing educators is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years. Their 2012 to 2022 projection indicates that the postsecondary nursing education field will grow by 35 percent on average - much higher than the average, which currently rests at 7 percent.

Compensation will depend on length of tenure, clinical experience and the school where employed. The BLS indicates that the average pay for nursing educators at the postsecondary level averages at $67,480 per year. Those who work in a college, university or professional school typically make more than their counterparts who work in community colleges or other types of schools. Though full time positions exist, many nurse educators work part time or split their time between multiple schools.

One of the many benefits to being a nurse educator is the flexibility that teaching at the postsecondary level provides. Full and part time instructors need to be available to teach courses and have office hours for inquiring students. Aside from that, they are free to adjust their schedule as necessary to grade assignments, prepare for their courses and have adequate time to do research.

Nursing is a career path in high demand and as such so is the demand for those with a passion to teach new generations. With a strong growth rate, nursing education is one of the most in-demand jobs in the country and can offer a perfect fit those with a passion for teaching and a desire to move their career forward.


ASU educators attending a graduation ceremony
ASU educators attending a graduation ceremony.


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