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What is the Role of a Clinical Nurse Educator?

Job Descriptions July 8, 2013

With increasing numbers of opportunities, high average salary ranges and job flexibility, the occupation of a clinical nurse educator is high in demand and can be an attractive option for nurses with the right skills.

A clinical nurse educator is a registered nurse who has several years of nursing experience, but who also has an interest in teaching and a strong ability to convey information to others. While some nurse educators only have their nursing licenses and bachelor’s degrees, it is more common for employers to require clinical nurse educators to hold advanced degrees as well.

Function of a Clinical Nurse Educator

A clinical nurse educator role can have a great deal of variation, both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Most of these professionals work in schools or colleges where they serve as curriculum developers or instructors for nursing students. Some clinical nurse educators will work with nurses who are already practicing by implementing and developing and educational programs to keep the nursing staff abreast of new industry developments.

Other clinical nurse educators actually provide their education services to families and patients, rather than working with students and health care professionals. They may instruct patients on different treatment options and teach them about how to manage a particular disease. They may also develop a set of teaching programs and tools to implement for a wide range of patients with similar conditions.

Some clinical nurse educators may take on more of a leadership role within a healthcare facility. In these types of positions, they can work towards providing solutions for more efficient hospital operations and better workflows for the hospital staff.

Numerous Choices for Workplace

One of the most attractive aspects of being a clinical nurse educator are that professionals have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings. Most clinical nurse educators will work in a traditional hospital environment, particularly if they are training or creating programs for a nursing staff. Clinical nurses who work as educational administrators or instructors will generally be based at colleges, universities or nursing schools.

There are also a large number of clinical nurse educators who work in environments outside of hospitals. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies will sometimes hire clinical nurse educators to represent a particular product or line of products to healthcare professionals.

From nonprofits to medical manufacturers, most other types of companies in various industries hire clinical nurse educators to administer education and instructions to specific populations of people—such as elderly people living in senior housing communities or individuals who are afflicted with certain diseases.

With the clinical nurse educator role and the overall job outlook for registered nurses both expanding, there are many opportunities for nurses who are interested in taking their passion for education to the next level. Aspiring clinical nurse educators should work towards building up their clinical nursing experience and should also consider pursuing an advanced degree in order to give themselves the best chance at entering this promising career field.

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