Nurse educators provide valuable contributions to research and scholarship. By training the next generation of nurses and medical professionals, they contribute and change the face of medicine. Their impact is far-reaching which means that they have a responsibility to promote evidence-based care and contribute to good policy measures and improved curriculum standards.
Here are some of the ways that nurses improve research and scholarship.
Promotion of lifelong learning
Nurses and other medical professionals must keep learning if they want to maintain a high standard of care for their patients. Nurse educators help people keep learning by teaching a variety of continuing education classes, college and graduate level courses, and helping conduct in-person training.
Educators also have an obligation to continue learning as much as possible throughout their careers. This means taking additional classes for certifications and credentials that can help them teach more effectively and with more skills.
Reading medical journals and listening to seminars and lectures is another way nurses can stay in touch with what is going on and use this for their own innovations and ideas.
Contribution to evidence-based practice
Nurse educators are responsible for teaching concepts, treatments, and methods that have been thoroughly researched and proven to be effective through research and trials. Many educators take part in research via their medical facility or an academic institution. These studies and the data they collect are used to figure out new methods and treatments that can help a lot of people.
Evidence-based care increases positive patient outcomes and allows patients to take charge of their care at times. With evidence-based care, the cost of healthcare is reduced because the most likely-to-work techniques are used.
Better nursing curriculum
It is important that the nursing curriculum changes with the times. Nursing schools must keep up with the latest techniques, treatments, and policies. Improving materials, teaching methods, and overall curricula is something that should be occurring every year. Nurse educators can work with administration and students to design a curriculum that helps students learn faster and obtain more skills. Keeping up with current medical trends means that nursing students will have the highest possible chance of passing their licensing exams the first time they take them.
Contribution to healthcare policies
Over the years there have been a lot of medical and healthcare policies that have been enacted but that does not mean they are necessarily influenced or approved by those that have the right type of knowledge. Nurse educators can help policymakers make sure that they are considering all aspects of a policy and they can offer insight on how the policy is likely to change the face of healthcare.
Nurse educators may even decide to help lobby and drive healthcare policies. There are definitely areas of our healthcare system that could benefit from improvement. Lack of access to healthcare in many areas is a major problem, and rules regarding licensing and practicing can impact how many qualified medical professionals are attracted to an area in serious need.
Procedures and treatments are directly affected by a policy. It is important that lawmakers have insight into the science behind policies before approving them or ideally before they are even created.
Mentoring student research
Medical students conduct a lot of research. Nurse educators help mentor student research and help with resources, problems that arise, and more. Students design research projects with nurse educators quite often. This research can lead to major findings in some cases and always contributes to the well of knowledge that creates real change in the world of medicine.
Research is a great way for nurse educators to dive into medical topics that they are most interested in. Medical facilities are a great place to collect data that can be used to contribute to the betterment of medicine. In addition, research benefits patients because it leads to a higher level of care, potentially life-saving treatments, and reduced medical costs.
Attending seminars, job fairs, and conferences
As a nursing leader, you may be asked or want to volunteer to attend medical seminars and conferences in person. Educators such as yourself often give lectures, serve on advisory boards, and more. Attending these events is an excellent way to network and collaborate with others.
Recruiting new hires at job fairs and representing your facility is a task that a nurse educator is well suited for. This is a very important role when one considers just how difficult it is to find enough talented nurses and medical workers to fully staff a facility so patients can get the highest level of care possible. Some seminars and conferences are available virtually. These are fantastic opportunities to work into even a busy schedule. You can lecture via Zoom and other web-based meeting software. Speaking in public also helps you be a better speaker when teaching and allows you to be comfortable around those with many different experience levels.
Nurse educators train the next generation
There is a record number of aging adults in North America in need of increasing levels of healthcare. Many people have been living for decades with chronic conditions that need regular treatment and check-ins. In addition, a lot more people than in the past have access to good health insurance that covers preventative care and sick visits. Unfortunately, there is a major shortage of nurses and other medical workers, particularly those offering primary and preventive care.
Many highly experienced nurses are retiring, meaning there are many openings for nurse educators and administrators to teach a hopefully increasing amount of nursing students.
Why choose to be a nurse educator?
You are an experienced RN looking to advance your career
Becoming an RN opens up a lot of opportunities as you gain experience and learn what you like best about nursing. Becoming a nurse educator can make you more useful at your medical facility because you are able to take on a preceptor role and teach classes to fellow employees. In addition, with a nurse educator job, you can enter the world of academia and teach at the college or university level.
Nurse educators also work in health and social departments to help educate the public about important healthcare topics. They may work closely with these departments during times of great need such as the COVID-19 pandemic or a particularly bad flu season.
Changing the future of nursing
Nurse educators shape the future of nursing. If you want to make a long-term difference in nursing, then becoming an educator is a great way to do it. You directly influence how students learn and the quality of their overall education, particularly during their required clinical rotations.
Change of pace
Nursing is incredibly rewarding, but it can be very fast-paced. Over the years, the 12-hour shifts or odd hours combined with being on your feet all day can start to take its toll. If you need a change of pace but love nursing, then teaching others is a fantastic way to contribute and let others benefit from your high level of experience and expertise.
Nurse educators work day hours and work in classroom and office settings a lot of the time. While there is some standing and walking, it is not as intense as working in a clinical setting. You can choose to stay in a clinical setting and work as an educator, but it is certainly nice to know you can find a position that is less physically demanding as you get older and want to stay in your field.
More variety in your job
If you gain an advanced degree as a nurse educator, it is possible to split your time between working as an RN and your role as an educator. In fact, you may keep working at the same facility but get paid to train new nurses or be a preceptor to nursing students. Teaching classes and training at your current job may be a role you can fill. As you can see, many options open up to you after you gain your degree.
You can take on a consultant role
As a leader in your field, you may be asked to consult on many different things including policy, curriculum, research, and more. Consultant roles can be interesting and help you learn as well. Your advice on developing teaching materials and more could be in addition to your regular salary in some cases. Helping to write or co-author textbooks is another lucrative niche.
How to become a nurse educator
While there are no experience requirements to enter a degree program in nurse education, you do need to be a licensed RN with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and meet program gap requirements. That being said, most nurses attempting to complete a Nurse Educator Online program to get their master’s degree have at least a few years of experience. The University of Indianapolis offers an excellent online MSN-NE degree program that can be completed in around 8 semesters. The University of Indianapolis’ program is designed so that working nurses can complete their degree while continuing their work. No matter where you are in your nursing career, this is a great opportunity to gain your credentials to be an educator.
Take opportunities to gain experience wherever you can
There are a lot of ways to gain experience that will help you be a better nurse educator. Here are a few that you should take advantage of whenever you can.
Help train new nurses and employees
Newly hired nurses still require an orientation and training period after they gain their RN license. Even experienced nurses still need some orientation into the new workplace. If there are opportunities to help with orientation and training then you can gain valuable experience while on the job and utilize any new skills you are learning as you study to be a nurse educator.
Attend networking events
As an educator, you will do a lot of networking and likely have to attend seminars and other events. So why not start gaining that experience now? After all, there is so much to learn from hearing others speak about their research and current projects. You can also hear about job opportunities that you otherwise might not have.
Take part in research when you can
If there are research opportunities at your facility and they need help then consider what you can contribute.
Assist in the classroom
Training sessions for employees are good opportunities to volunteer to help out. While you may not be doing the main teaching, assisting can provide valuable experience and allow you to ask questions related to teaching when the educator in charge is available. Think of these opportunities as your chance to be an apprentice.
Nurse educators contribute to the medical community in countless ways. It is important that they continue their own education and help foster good research and medical technique development. There are many opportunities for nurse educators, meaning earning a degree in the field offers a lot of job flexibility and versatility no matter what stage a nurse is at in their career.