The editors of JUNS believe that you readers represent the brightest and best of nursing’s future. If this description fits you, we would like you to think about a career in nursing education. The shortage of nurse educators is more acute than for nursing in general.
There are many paths to that first position as a teacher in a nursing program. The educational and experiential requirements for nursing instructors are governed by the rules of the educational institutions, the nursing state boards, and various accreditation groups. A rule of thumb is that an instructor in a nursing program must have at least one degree beyond that awarded by the program. In addition, an instructor usually must have at least two years of nursing experience before taking a teaching position. When a master’s degree is required, an MSN is strongly preferred. On the other hand, the doctoral degrees of nurse educators are represented by a variety of disciplines, such as clinical nursing, education, higher education, anthropology, and sociology. A PhD with a focus on nursing education is now being offered in several institutions across the nation.
The first step as a nursing educator may be a part-time position. Many educators start as adjunct clinical instructors while still providing patient care in another setting. Almost all educational institutions support ongoing formal study with both financial aide and scheduling consideration.
Financial reward is not the primary reason to choose nursing education, as most of the other advanced practice roles command higher salaries. Other rewards, however, are substantial. You need not lose your dream of making life better for individuals in need. In some way you might touch every client your students encounter. You will thrill when you see the intellectual light turn on in your students’ eyes. And most exciting of all, through the research role of an educator you will help refine and create nursing knowledge.