How to Get a Nurse Educator Job

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Nurse EducatorAlleviating a shortage of nurse educators is one of the highest-priority human resources goals in the health care industry. The shortage of nurse educators is a leading cause of the shortage of nurses overall because schools short of teachers are turning away thousands of qualified applicants.

So there’s good reason for a seasoned nurse to consider becoming an educator. But that doesn’t mean an open-arms welcome to the alien world of academia will ensue. The hoops through which an applicant for a graduate-level teaching position probably will be forced to jump might seem more harrowing than those of the corporate world.

You may think your record of steady employment and professional competence will speak for itself when you apply for a job on a faculty, but you may need to learn a new language and new customs so you can understand what they value and what you can provide.

Nursing faculty position

You’ll have to understand the institution’s mission and its history, because it’s important to many of them that you fit in. The institution, whether public or faith-based, may expect you to share a reverence for its spiritual traditions and accomplishments, and even its rigid requirements.

And you’ll have to understand in a practical way what the institution needs from you. Some put greater stock in researchers and prolific publication than in hands-on teaching passion and expertise. In fact, if you really want primarily to teach, you’re less likely to be a high-ranking professor.

Even if you don’t need a doctoral degree to get a given nurse educator job, you’ll probably have to start thinking in terms of obtaining the doctorate.  You may be required to pursue one on a timetable at the time you’re hired, although schools of nursing often build in allowances for skilled clinicians.

So you’ll have to have an idea going in whether you’re hoping to be a full-bore tenure-seeking professor, in which case you probably already have earned a doctoral degree, or whether you’re better suited for a practical role in which the word “clinical” is part of the title, as in “clinical associate professor.” The latter might be preferable if you’re determined to maintain clinical proficiency despite your new surroundings.

You might be seeking a more part-time, or adjunct, role, perhaps as a sideline to your primary job, while pursuing a new degree,  or while devoting more time to family.

Nursing instructor curriculum vitae

One of the primary differences between seeking a teaching job instead of a nursing job becomes apparent at the outset of the job quest. Instead of merely dusting off your resume, you’ll have to come to terms with the more elaborate requirements of a curriculum vitae, often called simply a CV.

“Whereas the goal of a resume is to construct a professional identity, the goal of a CV is quite specifically to construct a scholarly identity,” writes Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab.

“Thus, your CV will need to reflect very specifically your abilities as a teacher, researcher and publishing scholar within your discipline.”

So, instead of struggling to pare your list of qualifications to one page, or even two, you’ll be adding several pages to construct a CV.

Because it’s about you, not just your nursing career, it’s customary to organize the CV chronologically, although it’s likely to start with your education, working backward. It should be detailed enough to include the titles of your doctoral dissertation, master’s thesis and other significant writings.

BusinessNewsDaily.com suggests it also include areas of interest (including research and teaching aspirations); grants, honors and awards; publications and presentations; employment and experience; academic memberships; and references.

Nursing educator interview

If you and your CV pass initial scrutiny and you progress to an on-site interview, you can expect that to be at least as complicated as a corporate or hospital/clinic job interview.

There is often a preliminary interview that involves more than the corporate world’s one-on-one phone conversation with a screening expert from human resources. Even the preliminary phase may involve a Skype session with a full committee that may expect you to present research expertise, clinical experiences and other accomplishments.

If you progress to an on-campus interview, it may last more than a day and may include meeting with a faculty search committee that probably will ask for details about every entry in your CV.

You might score points by being able to make a PowerPoint or video presentation. You might even be required to make a professional presentation of that sort.

Eventually, the dean is likely to join your interviews and will be scrutinizing your temperament, attitude toward teamwork or whether you seem likely to be a dogged researcher.

Even if these peculiarities make it seem like academia doesn’t want you, it does, and there are many incentives designed to encourage pursuit of graduate degrees that will increase the supply of nurse educators.

Many universities have loosened restrictions on part-time arrangements for both students and faculty, and some have fast-tracked degree programs.

And despite the seeming stodginess of the vetting process, mentoring programs and other activities have been formulated specifically for nurse-educator prospects.

The incentives are there, not only for teaching at universities but also private schools, technical colleges and vocational schools.

And don’t forget that hospitals are among the venues where nurse educators practice, designing programs to keep the staff up-to-date, formulating budgets and creating a climate where the work is considered vital to the hospital.

It’s clearly vital to the profession.

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