nurse educator, nursing specialtyA Clinical Nurse Educator is a registered professional nurse with an advanced education, including advanced clinical and educational training coupled with many years of expertise in a healthcare specialty. Nurse educators serve in a variety of roles that often range from nursing college dean to a clinical trainer for a medical device or pharmaceutical company.

A combination of clinical expertise and a passion for teaching are two of the core skills that strengthen the nursing workforce while providing peer mentorship. These specialized skill sets help to set apart the nurse educator from the rest of the clinical team.

Many nurse educators design and evaluate academic and continuing education programs for nurses and clinical staff. These can include formal academic programs that lead to a degree or certificate, or more informal continuing education programs designed to meet individual learning needs.

In today’s diverse, ever-changing healthcare environment, nurse educators are often the leaders who redefine processes for a better work-flow, document the outcomes of educational programs and guide staff, students and patients through the learning process.

As health care communications increasingly focus on the needs of the patient, as well as assisting healthcare professionals in providing better disease management, Clinical Nurse Educators are often integral in defining and implementing programs to address these vital areas. Nurse teams work closely with healthcare professionals and patients to improve disease outcomes and innovative approaches for patient management—from educating professionals on new treatment protocols to working with patients and caregivers to educate, train, counsel and provide clinical support.

Many pharmaceutical companies are even recognizing the value of a Clinical Nurse Educator as a way to enhance the visibility and knowledge of a specific product or therapy within hospitals and physician networks. Nurse educators are able to break down many of the barriers that traditional pharmaceutical reps and sales people commonly encounter while easily identifying and establishing rapport which is a critical component of building long lasting relationships. 

In the vast world of healthcare with many broad topics, placing nurses in these roles is a way to narrow the focus to highlight the detailed items that are important to the specialized healthcare provider and the ancillary support staff in order to provide the processes and information necessary to implement successful programs.

Another reason to consider becoming a registered nurse that educates their patients, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses are projected to generate about 587,000 new jobs over the 2006-16 period, one of the largest numbers among all occupations. Overall job opportunities are expected to be excellent.