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Clinical Nurse Educator: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Clinical nurse educators are healthcare professionals who have gained a high level of expertise in nursing. They educate and train aspiring nurses or newly graduated nurses. Clinical nurse educators hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree in nursing and also have completed a nurse educator training program. They commonly have several years of hands-on nursing experience as well.

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Job Description and Duties for Clinical Nurse Educators

Clinical nurse educators are registered nurses who have typically acquired significant experience in the field prior to working in academic or healthcare facility settings to teach nursing. Because many nurses choose to become specialized in a medical area, such as pediatric or geriatric nursing, this can lend to specialized teaching credentials--although most clinical nurse educators teach a general nursing curriculum. Clinical nurse educators can work either part- or full-time, depending on whether they choose to continue pursuing patient care.

Clinical nurse educators develop curricula for nurse educator programs. They teach healthcare topics to unlicensed nursing students as well as practicing nurses. Class content includes not only didactic coursework but also hands-on clinical experience and lessons in professional responsibility. Depending on his or her position or work environment, a clinical nurse educator might collaborate with other professionals to refine nursing program content; for example, a women's health advocate may visit a nursing class addressing this subject.

Pre-Employment Requirements

Becoming a clinical nurse educator requires obtaining at least a bachelor's degree in nursing and then becoming a registered nurse. Licensure is gained by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Then, professional nursing experience is vital. Experience in a hospital or medical facility proves additional competency for a nurse educator and qualifies him or her to cover clinical skills within their program. Registered nurses must then enroll in a graduate-level clinical nurse education program; these are typically post-baccalaureate, although some programs do cater to individuals with a master's degree in nursing. They are designed to introduce nurses to teaching methods and curricula design theory so that they, in turn, can provide such instruction to future pupils.

Certification Information

Certification in this field is voluntary. A Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) designation is available through the National League for Nursing (NLN). Basic eligibility criteria include a master's or doctoral degree in nursing education and a minimum of two years of full-time teaching experience. Experience requirements are dependent upon an individual's education level or prior coursework completion. CNE recertification is necessary every five years with proof of continued education or knowledge advancement.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Employment of health educators, including clinical nurse educators, was predicted to increase 19% between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which was faster than average. As of May 2013, health educators, including clinical nurse educators, earned a median annual income of $49,210, per the BLS.

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