nursing student raising hand in classroom setting

The Growing Demand for Experienced Nurse Educators

America is facing a shortage of healthcare professionals, with nearly a third of the nurses currently working in the country expected to retire in the coming years. At the same time, hospitals and clinics struggle to keep up with patient demand, and schools are looking for ways to reach more students and prepare more nurses.

All these factors point to a need for more nurse educators, who are essential for helping prepare individuals to enter the field or advance within the field by taking on advanced responsibilities and entering more nursing specialties, especially adult-gerontology and independent primary care. Nurse educators equipped with advanced training, such as a Master of Science in Nursing, and experience in specialized clinical roles are needed to bring their passion, experience, and knowledge of instructional methods into the classroom and healthcare facilities to prepare nurses to fill the need.

Filling the Provider Gap

There are two immediate drivers of demand for nurse educators. The first is that the share of the population over age 65 is expected to be nearly 20 percent of the entire U.S. population by 2030. This means that the overall patient population is trending upward in age, creating unprecedented demand for care and nurse caregivers. At the same time, the average age of working nurses is also on the rise, with nearly seven hundred thousand expected to retire or work reduced hours by 2024 as a result. Therefore, nurse educators are needed to train registered nurses (RNs), both to meet growing demand as well as to replace the nurses that are retiring or moving into specialized care. While more nursing students are going to school today to prepare to make up for nurses who are leaving the field, nurse educators are needed to help ensure these students get the best training and preparation possible.

The second major source of demand is the need for more advanced care training due to the U.S.’s aging population often requiring more complex or specialized treatment. These older Americans frequently manage one or more chronic conditions and have special needs related to aging. Advanced practice nurse educators are essential to prepare licensed nurse practitioners for primary care roles, as well as specialty nursing roles.

Opportunities for Nurse Educators

Overall, the demand for nurse educators is expected to grow by 19 percent between 2014 and 2024, creating more than 13,000 new positions. Not only is this growth more than in most industries, but it is also among the fastest-growing postsecondary teaching specialty in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand for this position is also geographically widespread, with opportunities in both cities and rural communities across the United States.

In the role of nurse educators, one can earn more than $106,000 a year, depending on where they teach and how they balance research, instruction, and clinical roles. Top-earning nurse educators tend to teach advanced practice specialties through hospitals, although there is growing demand for nurse educators at trade schools and universities, as well as in clinical organizations. Hospitals and university clinics seek nurse educators to provide continuing education and professional development to clinical staff, including RNs and advanced practice nurses moving into specialty roles. Outside of this, nurse educators may even participate in research, guiding students through clinical trials or conducting their own research into instructional design and training methods.

Requirements to Become a Nurse Educator

As demand for nurse educators grows, the curriculum they are expected to teach is also rapidly evolving. In order to ensure that education and training methods are up-to-date, nurse leaders looking to take on an educational leadership role are typically required to have a Master of Science in Nursing, with an emphasis on education and teaching. Pursuing an advanced degree with a specialization in education can enable nurses to increase their own mastery, while advancing the field and sharing their passion with the next generation of caregivers and leaders. It also helps prepare nurse educators to study clinical best practices and turn this knowledge into curricula and instructional design in order to better prepare students entering the medical field.

Becoming a nurse educator can magnify the reach and impact of an individual nurse. As role models, researchers, advocates, and experts, nurse educators are a pillar of American health care, with demand for the position expected to continue to grow over the coming years. Through their work as leaders and teachers, nurse educators can help shape the future of health care and the caregiving profession.

Learn More

Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and in their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program helps students hone their knowledge and skills to assume leadership positions in healthcare systems, nursing informatics or nursing education. The program aims to develop students who could take a role in shaping health policy, in educating other nurses and health care professionals, and in providing advanced care to their patients. Norwich’s online nursing program coursework has been developed based on guidelines by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.


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