Nurse educators have a vital role in the future of healthcare. They serve in leadership or education roles in academic institutions and healthcare settings, teaching students and also providing clinical education to current nursing staff and other healthcare professionals.
Despite the importance of this position, there is a nurse educator shortage that has resulted in thousands of potential students being turned away from nursing schools. As a result, there is a projected 20% increase in employment for nurse educators from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Here is what you need to know about the shortage and why nursing educators are important.
What Nurse Educators Do
The primary role for nurse educators is to provide training for aspiring and current nurses in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices, colleges and universities and other work spaces. Their day-to-day responsibilities can vary from lecturing in a classroom to providing clinical education to nursing staff and other healthcare professionals.
Nurse educators can find a variety of career opportunities across the healthcare industry. Examples include:
- Community-based healthcare organizations
- Universities and colleges
- Public health nursing
- Acute healthcare systems
Why Nursing Educators are Important
Despite the high demand for professional RNs, staff shortages are causing nursing schools to turn students away. According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) report, U.S. nursing schools turned away over 75,000 qualified applicants mainly due to lack of faculty in 2018. This report also found over 1,700 open nursing educator positions across the country.
Causes of the Nurse Educator Shortage
Several factors contribute to the shortage of nurse educators, including:
A large number of educators and RNs are reaching retirement age without enough people to replace them. Due to a lack of qualified candidates and the low number of applicants, some of these openings remain vacant. The average age for master degree holding faculty for professors, associate professors and assistant professors was 55, 56 and 50 respectively according to AACN. This not only contributes to the nurse educator shortage, but it also becomes a factor in the general RN shortage due to the limited amount of nursing students a program can accommodate.
Getting an Advanced Degree
To become a nursing educator, RNs are required to complete an advanced degree – such as a master’s or doctorate. Some individuals do not have the time or money to complete an advanced degree program.
Solutions for the Nurse Educator Shortage
There are a variety of initiatives to help increase the number of nurse educators across the country including the creation of scholarship opportunities, and an increase circulation of information to increase awareness of the shortage.
Other ways the shortage is being addressed include:
Improving Better Access to Advanced Degrees
There are now several education programs for bachelor's level nurses can pursue. At Herzing University, we offer an MSN track that is gear specifically toward those interested in training future and current nurses and an RN to MSN program designed for registered nurses with an associate degree (ADN/ASN/AASN) looking for the shortest path to earn their MSN degree.
Offer Student Loan Forgiveness
Many states are providing nurses with student loan forgiveness due to the shortages. Reimbursement amounts and qualifications vary by state, but some states that offer loan forgiveness programs include:
- West Virginia
Students and alumni should contact Herzing’s Alumni Financial Support Center for more information.
Opportunities to Specialize
To compete with all the other nursing positions in the medical field, nurse educators can specialize in certain concentrations and advance their education. With Herzing University’s post-master’s programs, MSN grads have an opportunity to bolster their career and level of experience in the field.
Interested in becoming a nurse educator? Check out Herzing University Online today to learn more about our MSN programs!