What is a Nursing Instructor?
A Nursing Instructor (also referred to as a Nurse Educator) teaches students for entry into nursing positions. The educator’s students might be those preparing for a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) role, Licensed Practical/ Vocational nurse (LPN/ LVN) license, Registered Nurse (RN) license at the Associate, Bachelor or Master’s degree level. The Nursing Instructor might also teach other nurse educators, administrators, or researchers in any healthcare setting.
Quick Facts about Nursing Instructors/ Educators:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies nursing instructors in with a broader class of postsecondary instructors. Therefore, these statistics apply to the entire class. However, the median pay is specific to a nursing instructor.
- 2015 Median Pay (Nursing Instructor)
- Number of Jobs in 2014 (all postsecondary)
- Job Prospects from 2012-2022 (all postsecondary)
- Much faster than average
- Projected Employment Change from 2014-2024(all postsecondary)
- Areas of Growth (Nursing Instructor)
- All nursing programs
Figure 1: Accessed online from Bureau of Labor Statistics July 2016
What does a Nursing Instructor do?
The Nursing Instructor is primarily responsible for teaching nursing content to promote patient/ client and family care. Typically, this content is some combination of classroom and clinical (in a care environment) education. Depending on state-specific scope of practice and the level of student being taught, a Nursing Instructor will do some or all of the following:
- Collaborate to develop a full curriculum;
- Plan individual courses based on current best practices;
- Develop courses based on the plan;
- Provide education to students;
- Develop evaluation materials to determine competency of students;
- Instruct students in hands-on care of patients;
- Evaluate the students’ progress toward goals;
- Maintain own clinical competency by continuing clinical work and participating in ongoing continuing education;
- Consult and collaborate with other instructors to evaluate content and teaching strategies;
- Serve on academic and community committees to review policies and procedures;
- Conduct or participate in research studies;
- Publish research.
Where do Nursing Instructors work?
Nursing instructors/ educators work in just about any environment where healthcare personnel are found – and a few where healthcare personnel are not usually found! Most obvious, of course, are the instructors who are found in established schools of nursing or medicine in community colleges, colleges and universities. Even when employed by a school of nursing, the actual teaching environment may be very diverse. An instructor may work in the classroom, a laboratory, or in any healthcare environment as clinical instructor providing hands-on instruction for students. Beyond the obvious schools of nursing, many healthcare facilities (hospitals, hospices, long term care facilities, etc.) may have a Nursing instructor/ educator who can provide just-in-time training for new techniques or equipment, orientation for new staff, and remedial education for an employee who is having trouble with some aspect of the job. In addition, nursing instructors/ educators may provide education to the community through a community center, Red Cross, or other agencies that teach basic skills to non-clinicians.
What qualities should a Nursing Instructor have to be successful?
There are several qualities you should have to be a successful Nurse Educator:
The most important quality for a successful Nursing Instructor/ Educator is to be an excellent Registered Nurse.Savvy students can tell when an instructor has not practiced in the real world for some time.
- The nursing instructor must have an enormous amount of patience – with students and with yourself.
- The instructor must be able to quickly recognize the student who is struggling AND the student who is bored and not being challenged enough.
- For this reason, the nurse educator must also be able to adapt to different students, environments, and subjects.
- Teaching requires a positive attitude that can get you through bad times.
- The nursing instructor must believe that nurses are a vital part of the healthcare team and must be able to transmit that passion to students.
- Communication skills are an essential part of working with learners at any level, and being able to listen well is as critical as being able to speak effectively.
- Finally, a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at yourself is a great quality whether you want to be a Nursing Instructor or some other type of nurse.
How much can I expect to earn as a Nursing Instructor?
The great news is that, in addition to providing an essential service, the Nursing Instructor can expect to earn a very good living while working more traditional hours than many nurses. As of May 2015, the median annual wage was $67,480 with a range from $40,330 to $99,520. Of course, wages vary widely by state, cost of living, and need. In May 2015, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the following as average wages by state for nursing instructors and teachers:
Figure 2: Accessed online from Bureau of Labor Statistics July 2016
What are the job prospects for a Nursing Instructor?
The need for Nursing Instructors/ Educators will grow much faster than other professions through 2024. Job prospects for this role are excellent over the next 10 years as baby boomers who have been teaching begin to leave the work force. As the need for nursing personnel increases over the foreseeable future because of an aging population, the need for instructors to teach the additional personnel will also increase. It is the unfortunate truth that, even now, many nursing programs cannot admit all qualified students because of a lack of instructors to teach them.
In May 2015, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed the following as employment of Nursing Instructors and teachers by state:
Figure 3: Accessed online from Bureau of Labor Statistics July 2016
How can I become a Nursing Instructor?
Depending on state and agency requirements, the instructor must have some or all of the following in order to be hired as a nursing instructor/ educator:
- Registered Nurse (RN) license;
- Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN), although many positions may require a Master’s or Doctorate degree;
- Experience in nursing;
- Criminal background check;
- Certification to teach.