Stephanie Calabrese, RN BSN
October 17, 2008
Nurse Educator in the Staff Education Role
Nurse educators in a healthcare setting serve many roles and have many responsibilities and skills. They are a teacher, a role model, a leader, an educator, a critical thinker, an analyzer, and a mentor. Responsibilities include possessing the knowledge and the ability to facilitate learning, plan appropriate learning experiences and using the nursing process as their guide, know how to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate learning. Since the patient is the most important person in a healthcare setting, nurse educators in a hospital setting concentrate on staff development and continuing education. Nurse educators serve a multifaceted role because they serve as a member of a team within the organization along with all the other roles above. Skills
Nurse educators must be proficient with communication skills, have excellent critical thinking skills, and articulate well. At times, they consult the nurse manager of a specific unit and communicate how they feel new nursing employees are doing with their skills and evaluate competency levels within the healthcare setting. They “design learning experiences and educational programs for the staff with diverse level of ability such as course development, preparing and delivering lectures, developing teaching methods for classes, track attendance, and develop quizzes/tests that will increase the employees’ abilities, thereby enhancing staff efficiency and knowledge” (Beres, 2006, p.143). Nurse educators not only design the learning experiences, they also assess a learners needs and then assist the learners in meeting those goals. Nurse educators assist the nurse manager on a particular unit, by helping to identify other nurses who can precept new staff or graduates to help “bridge the gap between theory and practice” (Waddell & Dunn, 2005 p.84). They train staff in patient education, so the staff will learn cultural preferences, and the emotional needs of the families. The nurse educator trains staff in the use of new equipment and any common health concerns, for example, updating the learners on the influenza virus. Nurse educators must be up-to-date on recent developments in nursing and anticipate changes and expectations, plan educational programs for nurses to meet those challenges, and become a role model for colleagues and students. Nurse educators have “teaching experience, educational preparedness, and clinical expertise” (Beres, 2006, p.141) regardless of the environment in which they teach. Beres continues to relate that educational preparedness happens as vacancies in nurse educators occur, their “replacements will lack proficiency in educational theories, test construction, teaching strategies, and teaching with technology and evaluation (Beres, 2006, p.143). The nurse educator also help staff make the transition from “full time student to the hospital setting for the new employees and help them transfer theory into practice “(Beres, 2006, p.141). See appendix A for job description. The advantages of being a nurse educator in the health care field are receiving a high level of satisfaction when their outcomes are met, which strengthens the workforce for nursing. More advantages are autonomy and independence, a stimulating work environment, a flexible work schedule, and becoming mentors for the future generation of nurses. The disadvantages of the nurse educator in the health care setting are few. The salary is the number one issue. Low salary ranges from $65,000-$78,000 annually with a median of about $72,000 (www.salary.com. 2008). Another disadvantage is the perceived amount of time it sometimes takes to teach a nurse a particular skill. Sometimes, nurse educators take work home, and this result means a loss of personal time with family and friends. Stress, the third disadvantage,...