Karen Whitham, EdD, MSN, RN, CNE, and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Nursing Programs at American Sentinel University is a certified nurse educator who strongly believes in urging nursing students to pursue a career in nursing education. Most nurse educators have a background as nurses before joining the nurse education workforce, making most of them registered nurses with advanced education who also eventually serve as teachers.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that almost 80,000 qualified applicants are turned away from nursing schools each year because there is a shortage of nurse educators to train future nurses. The US is experiencing a severe nursing shortage, but without more nursing educators, schools simply can’t take on more students to start closing the shortage gap.

With such a strong need for nursing educators, a career in nursing offers high job security, opportunities for quick advancement, and personal reward. The personal reward that comes with a career in nursing doesn’t end when nurses advance to educator roles. Most nurse educators are still highly satisfied with their careers, knowing they play a significant role in preparing future nurses to care for patients, and finding their influence on students rewarding too.

For those with an interest in learning, Whitham strongly encourages the career path of becoming a nurse educator. Nurse educators typically have extensive clinical experience, and choose to continue caring for patients after becoming educators. But for those who choose to no longer practice at the bedside after moving into an educator role, they must still stay up-to-date on nursing methods and technologies in order to keep their students on the leading edge of clinical practice.

For Whitham, one of the significant rewards of a career as a nurse educator is shaping the careers of her students and giving them the foundation they need for technological advancement and impacting the patients and families they work with in their future nursing practice. Nurse educators act as role models for future nurses, providing necessary leadership for the evidence-based nursing practice that strengthens the nursing profession as a whole.

American Sentinel University offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with a specialization in educational leadership. Students are taught by experienced nurse educators and surrounded by peers who share education-focused career goals.

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