If you are considering increasing your responsibilities as a nurse, becoming a nurse educator might just provide the additional challenges you’re looking for. Becoming a nurse educator means educating the next generation of nurses as they prepare to join the field.
However, it also means managing a host of new responsibilities alongside those that you will have trained for on your route toward becoming a nurse.
So, what exactly is a nurse educator, what responsibilities do they have, and how do you become one?
What is a nurse educator?
As the name suggests, a nurse educator dedicates a large portion of their time to teaching and developing up-and-coming nurses, but, as you will see, their responsibilities go far beyond that.
A nurse educator also has to continue pursuing their duties in patient care, providing the same level of commitment and care to their patients while they inspire future generations of medical professionals to join the trade.
That alone may sound challenging, but crucially, the role of a nurse educator is one that will likely appeal to anyone keen to keep healthcare running at an exceptional standard. Without nurse educators, healthcare systems worldwide may struggle to effectively care for people.
It’s a role that requires a deep passion for caring for others, as well as boundless patience and understanding. These are already traits that nurses should possess from the get-go, but educators often have double the workload to tackle!
What responsibilities does a nurse educator have?
While the exact duties and responsibilities of a nurse educator may vary from case to case, there are several common areas they’ll need to allocate their time to, and they are:
- Promoting high standards of care for patients
As a nurse educator, you are expected to provide exceptional standards of care and help to your patients while simultaneously showing your students how you work and why it’s important to follow similar processes.
The goal, of course, is to promote an ideal, as these new nurses are training. Essentially, you are creating your own legacy as a nurse. You want your students to be patient, kind, thoughtful, efficient, thorough and able to act quickly based on what they see and hear.
Ideally, it would help if you also showed them how to work as a team member. All hospitals rely on the conscientiousness of their staff and their ability to work well together to provide optimum care for patients in need. That is something that you will need to impress upon your students — meaning you’ll need to be persuasive and understanding in equal measure.
- Assisting nurses while they treat patients
The nurses training under you will be expected to perform certain tasks as a part of their training. Therefore, one of your duties will be to intervene should they need assistance, to provide them with the solutions they need at a moment’s notice should they encounter any difficulty and any other assisting duties.
The important point here is to ensure that the patients within your and, by extension, the care of nurses in training do not feel compromised. They need to feel as safe and well cared for as they would be if you were treating them alone; it’s your job to ensure anyone under your charge follows your lead.
- Planning educational resources and timetables
Even training new nurses is a team effort. You will need to work very closely with your colleagues when it comes to planning their arrival and the days that the students will be with you.
You must also ensure that all of you are following the same program and have the same ideas, regarding personal development to ensure that the same standard of education is set facility wide.
Keeping everyone on the same page — and studying under an efficient educational program — will help to ensure your students graduate with the same skills, knowledge and handle on bedside manner.
- Creating patient care plans
As a nurse, you may be used to planning patient care agendas, but what about when those patients will be attended to and seen by multiple nurses at once?
It is essential to demonstrate to student nurses the kinds of cases they will likely see when fully qualified — and to allow them to learn as you take care of multiple people. However, not all patients will be available for the attention of multiple nurses — and those who are will need specific care plans that consider their time with the students, supervision, etc.
- Demonstrating equipment, regulations and supplies to students
Working in the medical industry means constantly having to learn new innovations. With technology ever-changing, it is vital to stay up to date with the newest machines, procedures and regulations being set up within your facility and nationwide.
The nurses you are training will need to learn about the current regulations, supplies and systems being put into place, as they will likely still be the standard when they become full-time professionals. Therefore, it is up to you to stay up to speed and date with any developments, changes and reforms. If there are any gaps in your knowledge, you absolutely need to ensure you’re up to speed before you start training anyone else.
- Taking care of patients, in emergencies and non-emergencies
The main focus of your job will always be patient care. Of course, as a nurse educator, you have to take on new responsibilities, but none should ever overshadow the care and treatment you need to provide to your patients.
Sometimes, that means having to set aside certain obligations to focus solely on your patient. In those times, you must turn to your team and ask for help when you need it. Your patients should never suffer because you have new responsibilities.
Ultimately, educating nurses, while extremely important, is just one facet of your role. Patients must always come first — you’ll understand that as part of any degree you take on.
Many nurses head into nurse educator positions sometime after they’ve learned their trade and have worked in hospitals for a while. It’s effectively a fantastic step to take to help your legacy as a nurse travel that little bit further.
What qualities should a nurse educator have?
Aside from completing a regular list of responsibilities, a professional nurse educator must also have certain skills and qualities. Being able to manage an already-demanding workload while simultaneously educating a group of people who will shadow you in your work and ensuring that your patients get your full attention and care takes a certain kind of person!
Here are some of the best qualities that a nurse educator should possess:
- Leadership skills
- Management skills
- Passion for caring
- Ability to multitask
- Communication skills
- Understanding of the current rules and regulations for the education of new nurses
The ideal nurse educator is one who isn’t afraid to face a challenge, while supporting a cabal of new students who are just as passionate about making a positive difference in the healthcare sector.
What qualifications do I need as a nurse educator?
As you may expect, you’re going to need a specific set of provable skills and experience should you wish to become a full-time nurse educator. Ideally, you should hold a combination of the following:
- Work experience as an educator or in a similar role
- Working knowledge of systems, instruments and treatment plans that apply to a given medical scenario or situation
- Working knowledge of the current teachings within the nursing standards to create quality curricula
- Certifications as a nurse educator
To start becoming a nurse educator, you will need a Master’s of Science in Nursing Education. This can be obtained online to allow you to continue your nursing responsibilities while learning independently. The course can be completed at your own pace and whenever best suits you. The best part about learning online, of course, is that you can complete your modules and coursework whenever and wherever you wish.
Taking on the role and responsibilities of a nurse educator can be challenging, even at the best of times. It does bring on extra work and duties and requires your full commitment in multiple areas (i.e., patient care and education).
However, nurse educators are essential to bettering the general medical system and ensuring that the next influx and generation of nurses is fully qualified and ready to get into the field as soon as possible. Learning in the field provides limitless opportunities and a better understanding of what the work entails than what could ever be learned in a classroom.
So, why not consider being a nurse educator? Nothing is more rewarding than knowing you are helping the next generation of nurses be the very best they can be. What’s more, we are always going to need talented nurses, and, without on-the-job educators, learning the ropes may be all-the-more complex. You’ll provide a wealth of knowledge to people who genuinely want to improve the world.