The AACN Preferred Vision of the Professoriate in Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs (2008) states that “courses in the nursing program will be taught by faculty with graduate-level academic preparation and advanced expertise in the areas of content they teach. ” There is national recognition, however, of the growing shortage of nursing educators to fill faculty and other educator roles within the healthcare delivery system.
Master’s programs that prepare graduates for nurse educator roles are designed to meet these needs. Nurses with a master’s degree may teach patients and their families and/or student nurses, staff nurses, and a variety of direct-care providers. As outlined in Essential IX, all master’s-prepared nurses will develop competence in applying teaching/learning principles in work with patients and/or students across the continuum of care in a variety of settings.
However, as recommended in the Carnegie Foundation report (2009), Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation, those individuals who choose a nurse educator role, as do all master’s graduates, require preparation across all nine Essential areas, including graduate-level clinical practice content and experiences in an area of nursing practice.
A program preparing individuals for a nurse educator role, in addition to focusing on the competencies in all nine Essential areas, should include course work in curriculum design and development, teaching methodologies, educational needs assessment, and learner-centered theories and methods. The master’s prepared nurse educator differs from the baccalaureate nurse in depth of his/her understanding of the nursing discipline and nursing practice in addition to the added pedagogical skills.
Further, in order to teach students, patients, and caregivers regarding health promotion, disease prevention, or disease management, the master’s curriculum for the nurse educator builds on baccalaureate knowledge with graduate-level content in the areas of health assessment, physiology/pathophysiology, and pharmacology to strengthen the graduate’s scientific background and facilitate his/her understanding of nursing and health-related information.
In addition, the master’s student who is being prepared for the educator role needs additional content in an identified area of nursing practice and opportunities in the practice environment to integrate this new knowledge and skills into one’s nursing practice. Those master’s students who aspire to faculty roles in baccalaureate and higher degree programs will be advised that additional education at the doctoral level is needed (AACN, 2008).
The National League for Nursing (NLN) has identified specific competencies related to the educator role as well as tasks associated with each of these competencies. These competencies can be accessed at http://www. nln. org/profdev/corecompetencies. pdf. A certification for academic nursing educators is also available; additional information regarding the certification criteria can be found at http://www. nln. org/certification/index. htm.