Things to Consider When Entering an RN-MSN/Ed Program

Close-up of nurse and doctor using tablet devices
Close-up of nurse and doctor using tablet devices

The Need for Qualified Nurse Educators is Increasing

The need for excellent healthcare is expanding, and nurses comprise the largest number of healthcare workers. There is currently a nursing shortage, with no signs of reversal. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections of 2014-2024 list nursing as one of the top occupations through 2024.

Nursing needs qualified nurse educators, and an RN to MSN /Nurse Educator degree helps bridge the gap between Associate’s Degrees and Master’s preparation. Nurse educators are nurses who have obtained an advanced education to teach nursing. In short, nurse educators teach nurses.

The shortage of nurse educators contributes to the nursing shortage. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported in 2016 that 65,000 applicants were turned away from nursing programs with two-thirds of reporting institution citing faculty shortage as the reason.

RN-MSN/Nurse Educator Program

In the past, obtaining a graduate degree in nursing was an arduous task, but the advent of online nursing bridge programs has made it easier for nurses to secure advanced degrees. The coursework and commitment remain as challenging, but the travel and course scheduling challenges have become less difficult.

The RN to MSN/Nurse Educator program from Spring Arbor University Online can be an excellent choice for a nurse who dreams of being a nurse educator.

What to Know Before Taking the Plunge and Enrolling in Classes

Nursing education is a huge time and money commitment, and the prudent nurse needs to think about her goals and decisions before applying. Returning to nursing school can be an adventure, but careful, thoughtful planning is essential for success. A nurse who is seriously considering advanced education must begin with the end in mind and reverse engineer her career goals.

Things to Consider

  1. Know your reason why! It can’t be about the money, either. Identify your passion in nursing. Visualize yourself in that role. What does your position look like with an advanced degree? Envision yourself in that role as descriptively as you can. Without a clear vision and targeted goal planning, students founder and often drop out.
  2. Plan. Plan. Plan. Identify the who, what, where, when, how and why of the entire endeavor. Ask yourself if you have the time, energy, money and desire to complete your degree.
  3. Family support is crucial. Be clear about the demands and expectations of returning to school and enlist their help for your success.
  4. Talk to nurse educators. Find those in various positions to identify which role suits you best. It matters! Do you want to work in a collegiate setting or as a staff instructor? Think about what specialties inspire you. For example, a diabetes nurse educator works with patients with diabetes.

NLN Education Recommendations for Nurse Educators

  • Master’s or doctoral degree in nursing education
  • Master’s or doctoral degree plus a post-master's certificate in nursing education

Research and learn about the educational requirements for a nurse educator position. Learn about the nurse educator certificate available through the National League for Nursing (NLN). Consider joining the following organizations for Nurse Educators:

  • National League for Nursing (NLN)
  • National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF)
  • Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANDP)
  • Association of Community Health Nursing Educators (ACHNE)
  • Professional Nurse Educator Group (PNEG)

Research the schools that you’ve applied to, and research their acceptance rates.

  • Ask yourself, “Why does this school want me as a student?”
  • Are they regionally or nationally accredited?
  • Will the credits transfer if you plan to continue for your doctorate? Some colleges and universities require doctorate level instructors.
  • Is the school for profit or not-for-profit?
  • What is the cost and is financial aid available?
  • Check with your current employer on possible tuition benefits.

Determine what kind of learner you are and what kind of support will optimize your success.

  • What kind of support system does the school offer?
  • If available, speak to a graduate of the school and ask them about their experience.
  • How long does it take to complete the program?
  • What is the time commitment each week?

Nurses by definition are caring and thoughtful, but a nurse educator requires additional qualities to excel. The individual aspiring to be a nurse educator should be flexible and have excellent communication skills. Their lifelong commitment to learning should be future-oriented and ethical.

For the individual who desires to lead nursing into the future, an RN-MSN/Nurse Educator degree is an excellent option for degree advancement.