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What is Nursing Education?
Nursing education is an academic division within nursing that prepares students to teach a new generation of nurses. A degree in Nursing Education is constructed to be academically rigorous to help graduates become proficient, well-rounded nurse educators. Successful nurse educators will possess robust problem solving skills, communication skills, time management, attention to detail, and personnel management skills.
Blending managerial know-how with technical skills and industry expertise will help nurse educators prepare legions of nurses for the future. The combination of these latent skills will help to resolve myriad issues that will arise within a complex healthcare environment.
Nurse Educator Degrees
Nursing Education can run the gambit from Licensed Practical Nursing through Doctor of Nursing Science programs and everything in between. Our goal is to provide you with an array of options to help you understand the programs available and prospective career tracks in nursing.
From affordable online nursing education options that get you into the workforce in short order to doctorate programs in nursing, you will find a number of nursing degrees below for you to research further. Taking the time to understand the different careers in nursing, you will be better equipped to map out your vocational goals and aspirations to chart a course accordingly.
Nurse Educators Education Requirements
In terms of educational requirements, the academic track for nurse educators will appeal to managers and leaders first and foremost. Individuals who enjoy teaching others and helping develop talent are the most likely to gravitate to this field of nursing. Academic requirements will vary from university to university, but a number of overlapping classes will emerge. A sampling of popular nurse educator courses include:
- Human Resource Management
- Public Policy
- Organizational Leadership
- Law & Ethics
- Organizational Behavior Studies
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Operations Management
- Healthcare Administration
- Business Administration
- Nursing Science
Online LVN and LPN Nursing Degree
The Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) and Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) degree programs are one of the fastest programs available to get you into the nursing vocation. LPN and LVN programs typically take about a year to complete depending on the school criteria and courses taken in a semester or quarter.
Degree Program Length: The LVN and LPN programs are a convenient means to the nursing profession as many state-approved, accredited local schools offer such courses. From local community colleges and technical institutes to community hospitals, the LVN/LPN programs are a viable option for many students looking to enter the nursing field. Online courses allow students the opportunity to dovetail these nursing programs into a busy work schedule or hectic life with synchronous or asynchronous learning.
Nursing Careers: The LVN and LPN programs are designed to provide students with the essentials to become a nurse and gain entrance into the field. Students will need to successfully complete a state approved, accredited nursing program and pass the state administered NCLEX examination along with any additional state tests before licensure is issued to practice nursing for your state of residence.
Online LPN to ADN Degree
Programs such as the LPN to ADN nursing degree are known as bridge programs. Bridge programs are designed to help working professionals upskill and broaden their base of knowledge in preparation for new job responsibilities or a different job altogether. The LPN to ADN bridge programs are specifically designed to help LPN’s and LVN’s work towards an entry-level RN position.
Degree Program Length: The LPN to ADN or LVN to ADN bridge program will consume more time than an LPN program as general education courses are part of the course curricula. General education classes like English composition, philosophy, and psychology will help you think about issues differently and provide a more well-rounded world view.
Whether you select an online LPN to ADN program, a classroom-based course, or hybrid track you will be able to consume the information taught towards your associate’s degree in nursing. Before earning your ADN, you will need to invest time performing rotations and clinical observations at a school-approved medical facility.
Nursing Careers: Many nursing professionals view the LPN to ADN bridge program as a segue to a BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing for those interested in forging forward with additional school work. If you are working while earning your degree, make sure to talk to your supervisor or human resources representative to see if tuition reimbursements are available.
Online Associate of Science in Nursing
The online Associate Degree in Nursing or ADN is a degree emphasizing technical skills over academic theory providing students with more hands-on learning opportunities to supplement lecture material. The Associate Degree in Nursing is a quality education option for those students with limited nursing experience seeking to begin a career in nursing as a Registered Nurse. Approximately one-third of students earning an Associate Degree in Nursing will go on and earn a BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Degree Program Length: An Associate Degree in Nursing will last approximately 2-years of full-time study and is offed by community colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes around the country. These programs can be taken on-site or online on a full-time or part-time basis to accommodate busy student schedules.
Nursing Careers: ADN degrees are ideal for students looking to enter the nursing profession as a Registered Nurse (RN) in an accelerated fashion versus the additional length of time taken to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Online LPN to BSN Degree
The LPN to BSN is a bridge program for nurses who already have work experience as a licensed practical nurse. As an LPN, the college or university essentially gives you built-in credit for life experience and work experience in lieu of investing a full four years into a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.
Much like the ADN program, students will be required to take a number of general education courses to enhance and broaden your world-view. Student who successfully complete the LPN to BSN degree program online or on-site from a state-approved, accredited higher education institution, will be eligible to begin working as a Registered Nurse.
Degree Program Length: The LPN to BSN bridge program can be completed by full-time students in as little as a year’s time and longer for part-time students depending on the number of credits taken at a given juncture. Make sure to spend substantive time discussing your class load with your academic advisor prior to matriculation as the LPN to BSN degree program is more rigorous than the traditional LPN or LVN programs.
Nursing Careers: Students earning a BSN degree can enhance your career options and leadership opportunities depending on the work setting and your work experience. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing can also be viewed as a great starting point for nursing professionals looking to take earn a graduate degree in nursing. In terms of compensation, a nurse with a BSN is often seen as more senior than a nurse with an ADN which would translate into a higher wage in most cases.
Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree
On-site or online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN or BScN) is also known as a Bachelor of Science (BS) with an Emphasis in Nursing or a Bachelor of Nursing (BN). Regardless of the acronyms used, the BSN degree provided students with a robust academic foundation to help ensure students have a vibrant career in the nursing field. The five most common types of online BSN degree programs are the RN to BSN, LPN to BSN, Accelerated BSN, Second Degree BSN, and BSN Degree.
1. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program is a 4-year online degree or classroom-based program and seen as the gold-standard for most healthcare organizations. BSN programs are divided in halves with the first half being spend with remedial sciences along with general education courses.
The second half of the 4-year BSN program includes a number of nursing theories, practices, methodologies, and principles necessary to successfully pass the NCLEX-RN exam. The NCLEX is a standardized test administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) which is a prerequisite to earn a nursing license in the United States. As mentioned previously, a BSN degree is required for working professionals or students looking to obtain a graduate degree in the nursing field.
Nurses with a graduate degree in nursing often find themselves teaching others in a school or corporate training setting or performing clinical or academic research. It is worth noting the Bachelor of Science degree is required for the following types of Advance Practice Nurses (APN): Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP), and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
2. Accelerated BSN
An Accelerated BSN is a compressed Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program offering credit for life experience and prior general education courses. Depending on the credits recognized by the institution, students can typically complete an Accelerated BSN program in one to two-years.
3. RN to BSN
The Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a bridge program created for RN’s with a prior degree such as an associate’s degree or nursing certificate. Online RN to BSN programs are typically popular for working professionals looking to earn an advanced degree while working. Online classes from most colleges and universities can be taken during the evenings and weekends to accommodate for hectic work schedules.
4. LPN to BSN or LVN to BSN
Licensed Practical Nursing and Licensed Vocational Nursing are interchangeable vocational terms in most cases. While the job functions are essentially the same for LVN’s and LPN’s, the term LVN is used by the nursing boards in California and Texas while all other state nursing boards recognize LPN as the predominant nomenclature for this profession. An LPN to BSN or LVN to BSN degree program provides nursing professionals with a means to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing quicker than the traditional BSN track.
5. Second Degree BSN
The Second Degree BSN is a degree created by colleges to undergird an accelerated career transition for working professionals coming from an industry outside of nursing. By allowing credit for previous general education courses, students can move through this degree program in one to two years depending on the number of credits taken and school criteria.
Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree
The MSN degree is built to help working professionals and graduate students deepen their skill set and prepare for career advancement opportunities. On the other hand, ADN and BSN programs are created to help nurses enter the field at entry-level and mid-level positions. Online MSN degrees can take 1-2 years to complete which can be longer if students enroll in joint degree programs. Joint degrees add degree specialization and industry credibility to an MSN degree.
Nurses earning a MSN degree are classified as Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). Examples of a joint MSN degree can include Public Health, MBA, or Healthcare Administration. The four most popular types of MSN degree programs for students to consider are: CNM, CRNA, CNP, and CNS.
1. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Certified Nurse Midwife or CNM blends the traditional role of a gynecologist with that of a nurse midwife. CNM's are extremely active in the holistic health and well-being of women of all ages. A Certified Nurse Midwife will provide a variety of consultations and examinations in an office setting or in-home. Given the training, certification, and licensure of a CNM they will typically have the autonomy to make healthcare and critical care decisions.
2. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA)
A CRNA or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist is a type of APN that is licensed and trained to provide anesthesia to patients. Anesthesia can be provided to healthy patients for minor procedures to infirm patients seeking comfort and relief. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists can work in a variety of organizations from a military facility or home care to private clinics.
3. Certified Nurse Practitioners
A CNP or Certified Nurse Practitioners are a type of APRN working side-by-side with physicians, performing medical research and advocating for patients. CNP’s may elect to specialize in various sub-categories of healthcare such as: family care, pediatrics, oncology, women’s health, cardiology, surgical services, and pain management. Certified Nurse Practitioners work in an array of settings like small clinics, home care, physician’s offices, and hospitals.
4. Clinical Nurse Specialists
A CNS or Clinical Nurse Specialist the final type of APN and is authorized to provide specialty care or primary patient care. Examples of specialized care include differing domains such as: care type (psychiatric, pediatric), medical setting (emergency room, clinic), demographic (elderly, children), disease type (diabetes, oncology), and medical concentration (stress, pain).
Online Doctorate Nursing Degree (PhD) Programs
The Nursing Science doctorate degree is a nursing equivalent to a PhD in nursing. The Doctor of Nursing Science is commonly abbreviated as DNS. Meanwhile, some university programs will utilize a variety of nomenclature to describe this degree such as DSN, DNE, DNSc, or DScN. This degree is formally recognized by the United States Department of Education and the National Science Foundation as being on par with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing. The most common online doctoral degree program include a doctorate in nursing education, DNS, and PhD.
1. Doctorate of Nursing Education (DNE) Degree
The 3-year Doctorate of Nursing Education (DNE) emphasizes the development and expansion of APN skills, leadership, and management.
Degree Program Length: The Doctorate of Nursing Education are 3-5 year programs of full-time work. A subset of the DNE is the Doctorate of Nursing Practice or DNP that is closer to a 3-year program arranged specifically to benefit working professionals.
Nursing Careers: Doctorate of Nursing Education programs equip students with the skills to perform deep research, work in clinical care, systems management, and make empirically-based decisions for the benefit of an organization, school, patient, or clinic.
2. Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS) Degree
DNS or DNSc students are effectively nurse scientists equipped with vibrant analytical skills coupled with a managerial aptitude to help shape health care systems and organizations.
Degree Program Length: A DNS degree will last around five-years of full-time classes and part-time options can extend this accordingly. Upper level classes for DNS students will include rigorous courses, deep clinical case studies, research, a clinical defense and dissertation.
Nursing Careers: Upon graduation, DNS degree holders can work as a healthcare analyst, professor, healthcare administrator, or in the executive leadership of private and public institutions.
3. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree
A Doctor of Philosophy degree is a PhD program composed to help nurses advance the nursing field and improve healthcare delivery methodologies. It is worth noting that colleges and universities across the country have shifted many DNS programs to Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) degree programs limiting the DNS programs available.
Degree Program Length: Doctor of Philosophy degrees are 4-5 years of full-time study with part-time programs available for qualified students. The PhD degree program will require that students engage in extensive research projects along with a find dissertation in lieu of clinical rotations.
Nursing Careers: Graduates holding a Doctor of Philosophy with an emphasis in Nursing will be equipped to perform research for public and private institutions along with the ability to teach in a variety of schools and corporations.
Employment Outlook & Nursing Specializations
Nurse Educators will be trained in the science of healthcare coupled with the art of managing individuals. The core skills learned in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs will prepare students for a number of employment opportunities. Depending on your qualifications and availability, you may elect to pursue a career in any of the following: Department Director, Nurse Executive, Nurse Administrator, Quality Improvement Manager, Ambulatory Care Manager, Nurse Manager, Director of Nursing, Healthcare Administrator, Hospital Executive, LPN, Chief Nursing Officer, RN, LVP, or similar tracks.
In addition to the job duties to consider, nurse educators can find themselves employed by differing organization types. Examples may include large public healthcare organizations, private ambulatory care clinics, hospitals, home healthcare agencies, or government agencies.
Nurse Educators Salary & Career Growth
Nurse educator salary is currently averaging approximately sixty-thousand dollars a year. The top 10% of health educators in the U.S. average $97,160 a year with the bottom twenty-five percent averaging around forty thousand dollars a year. Meanwhile, the mean annual income for a Registered Nurse is $73,550 or $35.36 an hour.
Prospective growth in nursing is estimated to be well above the national average. As an example, jobs for health educators is slated to grow at 17% with RN's coming in at 16% for the next ten year reporting timeframe. The rate of growth and overall compensation for nurse educators will vary from region to region and job to job. Generally, the more education and work experience in nursing will translate to greater job stability in a higher income bracket.
Nurse Educator Resources
For more information about Nursing Education degrees, sort the accredited universities below or visit our online nursing search page or career portal to learn more about a variety of careers in nursing. You may also benefit from reading our Complete Guide to Nursing or by researching associations such as the ANA, NSNA, or the ACHNE.