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A Day in the Life of a Nurse Educator

To help you decide if nursing education is the right career path for you, Dr. David P. Zapencki shares what daily life working as a nurse educator could look like.

As we continue to see a shortage of nurses across the country, the importance of nurse educators becomes increasingly evident. If you’re considering pursuing a career as a nurse educator, here’s what you need to know.

As a result of the overall nursing shortage, nurse educators are in high demand. In fact, there is a projected 17.6% increase in employment for nurse educators from 2019 to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

To help you decide if this is the right career path for you, we connected with Dr. David P. Zapencki, Nursing Program Chair at Herzing Kenosha, to learn what daily life working as a nurse educator could look like:

What are the types of places a nurse educator could work?

Those with a Master’s degree in nursing education (MSN) can expect to work in a variety of academic or professional health-related settings, such as in higher education, community-based healthcare organizations, public health nursing and acute healthcare systems. Some may even work in a combination of settings depending on the organizations’ needs. There's a lot you can potentially do with an MSN in Nursing Education.

“Nurse educators obviously work in universities and colleges, but also are employed by hospital systems,” Zapencki said. “They orient new employees and keep current nursing staff up-to-date on professional development as well as new procedures or the use of any new equipment.”

What does an average day look like for a nurse educator?

Nursing education is the ideal path for someone who likes variation in their daily work.

“Every day there is something different to do or learn,” Zapencki said. “All of the settings will give the nurse educator a great deal of variety in their daily schedules depending upon students’ or staff nurse’s needs.”

What does a nurse educator do?

Generally, nurse educators are responsible for creating course curriculum and teaching nursing students, and their day-to-day responsibilities vary based on their work setting.

“At colleges and universities, the nurse educator could be responsible for holding didactic classes, overseeing students in clinical, or doing skills check-offs in the lab,” said Zapencki. “Most are also involved in guiding students through high-fidelity simulations as well, though bigger schools usually will have a dedicated specialist for simulations.”

When working in a clinical setting, there’s an additional focus on supporting the staff.

“The nurse educator will review staff nurses’ records and plan training activities based on unit and/or need. This would be different for nurses working in the emergency room or ICU than it would be for inpatient floor units, but each area requires specialized attention,” Zapencki said. “Nurse educators also host skills fairs in the hospital a couple of times a year so that nurses can demonstrate competence in required skills. They may also host BLS, ACLS and CPR classes.”

What kind of people does a nurse educator work with? 

Whether you’re in a clinical or academic setting, nurse educators are responsible for teaching a variety of students and professionals, many of who are in different stages of their academic careers.

“Nurse educators work with students from the pre-licensure level all the way up to DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) courses,” Zapencki said.

Are there any challenges that come with being a nurse educator?

Nurse educators have the responsibility of providing future nurses with the tools and education they need to provide exceptional care. To do so, it’s vital for nurse educators stay up-to-date with any current goings-on in the field.

“Probably the biggest challenge is keeping yourself current on skills and procedures while you are working with everyone else,” Zapencki admits. “This requires reading new studies and current literature, attending webinars and conferences, and doing many Continuing Education activities.”

What are the benefits of working as a nurse educator?

Nursing educators can positively affect students’ and professionals’ careers, as well as help, ensure excellent care throughout the healthcare industry.

“Knowing that you are training future nurses to carry on our professional traditions of patient advocacy gives nurse educators assurance that our legacy will continue even when we are no longer able to go on ourselves,” Zapencki said.

What should prospective nurse educators know before pursuing a career in the field?

“While educating nurses is a lot of hard work, it is definitely satisfying to help students realize their dream of becoming a nurse and also knowing that what we do will impact patient care for years to come,” Zapencki reflects.

Are you interested in becoming a nurse educator? View all our available nursing education programs.

Learn More About Our Nurse Educator Programs


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2022 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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