What is a nurse educator?
Nurse educators are responsible for training, inspiring, and mentoring a new generation of nurses in a variety of locations. Nurse educators in hospitals need to instill the values, ethics, and knowledge of the profession in the new generation so there is a bright future of healthcare.
The nurse educators that are examples of excellence take extra time to focus on their students in a personal way and invest in the mentorship of junior nurses. Nurse educators believe in building a strong team and helping new nurses reach their goals and aspirations. They often continue teaching and mentoring throughout their time in the hospital and even beyond.
These individuals focus not just on patient care but direct their passion to teaching and advocating for the rights, resources, and value of nurses and the nursing profession. They do this in practical settings like hospital wards or educational environments.
Nurse educators need to have a Master of Science in Nursing Education that can be attained online with highly accredited programs such as the one available at Walsh University. They have advanced degrees including doctorates, that allows you to stay up to date on the latest techniques and innovations in healthcare. Nurse educators in hospitals are responsible for keeping their nursing teams up to date on latest innovations hence the need for the educators themselves to constantly expand their knowledge of the field.
There are certain competencies that The World Health Organization (WHO) outline as essential for nurse educators, which are:
- Implementation and design of the curriculum
- Principles and theories of adult education
- Evidence and research
- Practices in nursing
- Collaboration and communication and developing partnerships
- Evaluation and monitoring
- Ethical principles
- Legal principles
- Leadership, management, and advocacy
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that our healthcare system will have openings for about 194,500 registered nurses each year through 2030.
Nurse educators in a hospital setting
Nurse educators in a hospital setting are responsible for supporting individuals who are working as nurses with their education, support, training, and mentoring. The duties of these nurses look different from those who work in an education setting and train new nurses at the start of their careers.
Nurse educators work with their teams to complete assessments that monitor individuals’ capabilities. They assess each students’ capabilities and then provide them with resources and feedback to help them improve and succeed in their careers.
Nurse educators act as advisors and patient advocates, in collaboration with other individuals, to provide resources for researchers working in clinical research. They also answer questions and provide nursing staff with the proper support to protect the patients.
Nurse educators act as servant leaders, which means they still serve the patients and their teams with professionalism, ethics, conviction, and encouragement while working in a practical setting. These educators lead by example and provide the mold for excellence in ethics and knowledge. They help guide struggling nurses or new nurses through transitional periods with compassion and respect.
These individuals are responsible for creating a well-oiled machine in their teams that are open with communication and work towards a common goal of excellent healthcare.
Nurse educators and staff retention
Staff retention and satisfaction are very important in an area that is suffering a shortage as it is. When nursing staff feel respected and heard, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and not leave the profession or take extended leave because of burnout. There are grim statistics on how many nurses end up quitting their jobs, so you can turn that statistic around and help create an atmosphere of respect, empathy and professionalism.
Nurse educators are valued for the knowledge and understanding they bring to their role, and they can turn a malfunctioning department into a dream team. Nursing staff turnover can cost employers upwards of $80,000 per RN so the role of nurse educator is also one that creates economic harmony. Turnover is reduced when the culture of the organization is one of learning and skill-building.
Nurse educators are adept at developing their staff and enhancing their strengths while working on their weaknesses. To be successful, nurse educators need to have leadership qualities to achieve a strong relationship with their charges and develop respect to train and mentor. Some qualities that nurse educators need include:
- Being supportive
- Setting clear direction
- Being approachable and respectful
- Being a mentor and teacher
- Being clinically competent
- Setting attainable goals and realistic targets
- Being caring and compassionate
- Demonstrating the highest integrity and honesty
The role of a nurse educator is not to just teach in a formal setting, but to teach on their feet in a clinical setting where teachable moments pop up all the time. When they are in the thick of things and working alongside the nurses on their team, they can correct errors and teach proper techniques in a practical way that the nurses are sure to remember and understand.
There is something to be said about hands-on training and its importance in healthcare. Reports have suggested that nurse educators being able to flag these teachable moments during a workday is much more effective than a traditional classroom setting. When nurses work with effective nurse educators, they are inspired to increase their knowledge, improve their skills, and take their careers to the next level by themselves becoming mentors. When this kind of teamwork is put into effect, everyone benefits, especially the patients who receive superior care.
These highly valued members of the healthcare system can serve as role models to nurses who may be sitting on the fence about their careers, and offer support, expertise, and respect to those who are looking to move up.
Creating a positive culture
Nurse educators create a positive work environment by encouraging respect, skill-building and a team spirit. When they do their job well, these dynamic workers keep their team motivated and working hard, and when the culture of the department is positive, that permeates throughout the entire organization. Patients and their families can feel the atmosphere and as a result feel less stressed or upset, and are less likely to complain about their care.
Lead the future of healthcare
With the innovations that pop up in healthcare frequently, nurse educators need to be open to technology, and flexible when it comes to trying new programs. They need to be responsive and quick to show the nurses in their charge how adaptability is crucial in their profession.
Nurse educators in an academic setting
When working in an academic setting, nurse educators promote a quality nursing education by speaking from a place of experience. These individuals impart their knowledge to nursing students in their curriculum and in anecdotes that help make the material understandable and relatable.
They are skilled at teaching in a traditional setting while using strategies that are grounded in theory and evidence. Nurse educators are passionate about their job and understand that nursing is a profession that requires lifelong learning. They know they need to keep up with innovations in technology, medicine and teaching methods.
Faculty nurse educator
Nurse educators who are part of a university faculty serve as administrators, coaches, advisors, instructors in labs, researchers, and they help develop curriculum. They share their vast knowledge with their teams and help shape the direction the organization takes in the matter of education. They are dedicated to creating not just a curriculum but a nursing experience that churns out exceptional nurses. They can also create programs where nursing students can find extra help like nursing tutors or online courses to bolster their skills.
A nurse educator’s duties can be categorized into the following:
They act as collaborators with other stakeholders and build partnerships to enhance nursing programs, curriculum and skills. They also act as career advisors and help students acquire the necessary knowledge to reach their goals and follow their passions. They help students learn to work in a collaborative setting as a cohesive team for better patient care.
Director of student learning
When nurse educators act as directors of student learning, they are a highly valued member of the faculty who encourages the development of the staff, students, programs, resources and curriculum.
Role models for students
One of the most important roles a nurse educator can have is a mentor for the students. When students feel that they have a respected role model they can mirror and learn from, they know that there is an ideal they can attain. When nurse educators treat those students with respect and dignity, they feel valued and are much more likely to succeed and act as role models themselves for younger students coming in.
Role models for faculty
Nurse educators are respected among faculty for the contributions they make to the organization in the areas of culture, knowledge and innovation. They inspire other members of the faculty to achieve the same high level of professionalism and leadership so the whole department benefits.
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