Career Pathways & Education

What Does a Clinical Nurse Educator Do? 

Keondra Rustan, RN
July 29, 2020
Share On:
Jump to Unit

What are the typical responsibilities of a Clinical Nurse Educator?

A Clinical Nurse Educator can have a variety of duties. These include educating nursing staff, training nursing students, and serving as a leader and role model of proper nursing behaviors. Clinical Nurse Educators are responsible for engaging in lifelong learning and staying up-to-date on current guidelines in evidence-based practices. 

They use this information to train staff nurses on new procedures and equipment and develop innovative methods, such as simulation and experiential learning strategies, to help nursing students become competent and holistic care providers.

What should nurses entering this specialty area expect to encounter on a regular basis?

Time is a hot commodity in this profession. You may be required to attend meetings, develop lesson plans, and provide instructions using a variety of techniques on a daily basis. 

If you work in a hospital setting, you may be required to do in-services, and that requires the ability to be thorough and yet concise. If you conduct an in-service, then you may have a few minutes to train clinical staff on new procedures and products. The beautiful thing about healthcare is that it is ever-changing, and these developments come with new technologies for patient care and instructional methods. 

Even if you are not currently practicing as a staff RN, it’s critical to stay informed of what is ruled as evidence-based practice so that accurate knowledge is delivered. 

stack of thick text books clinical nurse educator

My experience as a Clinical Nurse Educator

I had a very interesting start as a Clinical Nurse Educator. I did not have any mentorship, which resulted in a challenging first year. It was challenging for me to develop my first exams, balance my time, and use simulation without proper knowledge of how it functions within the realm of clinical education. 

With further investigation, I was able to connect with specific professional organizations that linked me to some wonderful people. This set me on my path to becoming a proficient and creative educator. I am now able to give learners more bang for their buck; I can pack clear and compelling explanations in quick sessions. I have used these skills as an educator in the clinical setting, as well as at colleges and universities.

What are some of the benefits of working as a Clinical Nurse Educator?

The most notable benefit of working as a Clinical Nurse Educator is knowing the tremendous impact that you’re having on patient care. Clinical Nurse Educators train students to become nurses and provide professional development for practicing nurses. The results of their training affect the type of care they provide to patients. 

One of my fondest memories is when I conducted a simulation of acute coronary syndrome for a group of students who experienced the exact situation in clinical the next day. I was overwhelmed with joy when they told me they had encountered the same condition as the simulated patient. The case even unfolded precisely the same as the simulation, which is why they knew exactly what to do. 

This affirmed that my contributions were essential to their journey of becoming practicing professional nurses.

What are some of the not-so-great parts of working as a Clinical Nurse Educator? 

One would be allocating enough time for lesson planning and pilots of new instructional techniques. At the beginning of my journey into academia, I often had a great deal of difficulty managing my time. I would frequently forget to take breaks because I wanted to work on the next lesson, fix any errors, and accommodate learner feedback. 

When I began working as a nurse educator, I experienced imposter syndrome. I regularly wondered whether I was smart enough to educate the students. After I found a mentor, I realized that you would never really know everything, and that’s okay. 

When you do not see the information you need, it’s important to proactively look for the correct answer. Ultimately, you’re responsible for providing safe patient care and delivering the right knowledge to the students so that they can do the same. 

Share your favorite piece of advice for nursing new grads or students looking to become a Clinical Nurse Educator

Never underestimate the importance of mentorship

Navigating the world of academia can be challenging without someone there to serve as your guide. A mentor can help assist you in the tenure process, direct you up the proper chain command, and integrate you into the academic community. Mentors can also provide counsel on balancing work and life duties, setting time aside for lesson planning, and determining which committees and professional organizations to join. A true mentor offers a mouth of wisdom and ears to listen. They can talk to you about best practices or lend an empathetic ear after a rough day.

Additionally, do not let one bad day dictate your career. You may have days where your lesson just isn’t reaching the learners or you have quizzes and exams that deliver poor results. However, none of this means that you’re a terrible educator. 

Every professional has bad days; highly competent professionals make a habit out of continuously seeking improvements for professional growth. A mentor will tell you to turn the word “fail” into a power statement: First Attempt In Learning.

Looking for Your Next Nursing Job?

Create a free Trusted profile for more nursing resources, tips & tricks, and access to available nursing jobs!

Thank you for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again.