The nationwide nursing shortage isn’t slowing down anytime soon, as the baby boomer population continues to age and average life expectancy increases, building demand for medical care. That’s not all—the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts nearly 1.1 million new registered nurses (RNs) will be needed by 2022 in order to replace 500,000 retirees and fill 100,000 new RN positions each year.
This is good news—and an ideal opportunity to advance your nursing career to become a nurse educator. After all, who is going to train all these new nurses?
Nurse educators play a vital role in ensuring that the next generation of nurses is prepared to meet the growing demand for healthcare services. Nurse educators are also instrumental in shaping the future of the nursing profession, encouraging a focus on holistic patient care and illness prevention, as well as promoting community health. Right now there is a strong need for educators — 83 percent of nursing programs sought to hire new faculty in 2015.
Why are nurse educators so important?
Nurse educators serve an important role within the hospital system. Having professional nurses who are trained to deliver information to other nurses, who understand their challenges and how to convey critical and lifesaving knowledge is essential to a hospital’s success. A nurse educator can help mitigate mistakes, streamline processes, shorten new hire ramp time and identify opportunities to improve processes and mitigate risks to the patient, nurse and hospital.
In 2008, the Institute of Medicine released a report recommending that 80 percent of the registered nurse (RN) workforce have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) by 2020, causing many hospitals to reevaluate their criteria for hiring new nurses. Additionally, hospitals aspiring to Magnet status are likely to hire more BSN-prepared nurses, due to better expected patient outcomes.
That’s why many hospitals are looking to work with educational institutions such as Herzing University to meet the rising demand of BSN degrees, such as through an online RN-BSN program.
As registered nurses return to school and new students seek entry to BSN programs, colleges and universities are under increased pressure to find qualified faculty to educate and train future nurses. Thus, nurse educators’ skills and experience are continually in demand, and essential for expanding the RN workforce to meet the healthcare needs of current and future generations.
How are nurse educators preparing nurses for the future?
Nurse educators are instrumental in shaping the future of healthcare by providing their students not only with the technical skills that they need to be successful in their field, but also the refined skills and depth of knowledge that will help advance quality of patient care.
• The importance of community nursing:
As the focus of patient care shifts from acute care to prevention models, a nurse’s role expands to health education and advocacy, community care, agency collaboration and political and social reform. Today’s nurses need to understand their evolving role in the community and how to provide holistic care for patients. As a nurse educator, you help nurses understand the principles behind the work that they do and how they can proactively contribute to the health and well-being of the communities they serve.
• Essential leadership skills:
Good leaders aren’t born—they’re made! Nurse educators help prepare today’s nurses for future leadership roles by introducing management and organizational theories that will allow nurses to take initiative in a variety of roles. In addition, nurse educators help students learn how to improve patient-care quality, how to make cost-effective decisions and how to evaluate patient outcomes to improve future practice.
• How to implement evidence-based practice:
Nurse educators can also help nurses learn how to critically evaluate new research. This is an important skill that allows nurses to become more effective decision-makers and problem-solvers and help improve patients’ health and well-being.
Becoming a nurse educator:
Becoming a nurse educator doesn’t mean that you have to forgo your clinical work; many nurse educators continue to care for patients in addition to their teaching duties. In order to become a nurse educator, you must obtain your MSN. Educational opportunities such as Herzing’s MSN-Nurse Educator program empower students to fulfill the ongoing and vital need for quality instructors in the field.
Helping to shape the future generation of nurses is a truly rewarding career, and one that is essential to ensuring quality healthcare for our nation. By choosing to pursue a career in nursing education, today’s nurses can help pave the way for a healthier future.