Clinical nurse educators are baccalaureate- or master-prepared nurses who have acquired significant experience in the field as registered nurses (RNs). Unlike traditional nurse educators who work in a university or college setting and must possess master’s degrees, clinical nurse educators often possess BSNs and work in healthcare facility settings.
Clinical nurse educators are licensed RNs, many of whom have specialized their nursing career in a specific field, such pediatric or geriatric nursing. As such, they can provide students within the clinical component of their nursing education with in-depth instruction related to a specific patient population. Clinical nurse educators also provide clinical training opportunities for licensed nurses.
Clinical nurse educators may work part- or full-time, and many times they continue to work in patient care while engaged in clinical education.
What Do BSN Clinical Nurse Educators Do?
Unlike traditional nurse educators who oversee theoretical classroom study, clinical nurse educators are responsible for teaching through hands-on, clinical experiences. Clinical nurse educators may therefore work in any number of healthcare environments, including acute care centers, senior facilities, oncology departments, mental health units or facilities, and rehabilitation institutions, just to name a few.
Clinical nurse educators are called upon to utilize their clinical best practices and patient outcomes to assess the learning needs of the students they teach. As such, their job duties often include:
- Planning and developing learning activities and experiences
- Implementing learning plans, which include delivering the training plans
- Monitoring the transfer of knowledge, which includes documenting the learning process and its outcomes
- Ensuring that clinical competencies and organizational standards and practices are maintained
- Identifying gaps in knowledge and taking steps to close those gaps through education and support
Job Duties and Responsibilities of BSN Clinical Nurse Educators
The job of clinical nurse educators is multi-faceted, as they serve as both educators and consultants. As such, job duties and responsibilities for clinical nurse educators include:
- Conducting assessments
- Assisting learners as to assess needs and determine outcomes
- Planning, implementing, and evaluating educational programs
- Developing and coordinating education as to address specific patient populations
- Planning, preparing and maintaining educational materials
- Identifying and evaluating instructional materials
- Developing competence-based programs for current nursing staff as to improve skills and retain knowledge
- Developing educational materials
- Serving as an educational consultant for facilities, committees, and task forces
- Recommending educational strategies for the implementation of clinical standards
- Consulting with other members of the team to implement clinical standards
Traits and Qualities of Clinical Nurse Educators
Clinical nurse educators possess a number of qualities that make them ideal adult educators. In addition to possessing a substantive amount of knowledge in their area of instruction, clinical nurse educators possess:
- A desire to teach others and an openness to learning
- Excellent communication skills and the ability to effectively collaborate with a multidisciplinary healthcare team
- Strong ethical priorities
- A willingness to understand, implement, and support policies and practices
- Excellent critical thinking skills
- The ability to convey knowledge to adult learners
- A commitment to lifelong learning
- The ability to exercise leadership
- A passion for the scholarly development of the nursing discipline
- The ability to assess learners needs
How to Become a Clinical Nurse Educator
Clinical nurse educators must, at a minimum, possess a current RN license and a BSN. Beyond these basic requirements, extensive experience in professional nursing is vital; therefore, RNs with BSNs receive their competency to become clinical educators through extensive experience in a hospital or medical facility.
In addition, many employers require BSN clinical nurse educators to take post-baccalaureate clinical nurse education classes, which are designed to introduce nurses to teaching methods and curricula design theory.
It is also common for BSN nurse educators to pursue master’s degrees and post-graduate certificate programs. Many of these programs, which are often available online, are designed to prepare nurses through study of the learning process, curriculum development, student counseling, principles of adult education, and program evaluation.