You’ve dreamed of this: Your first classroom, where you’ll teach and mentor nursing students and guide them toward becoming highly skilled, compassionate, dedicated healthcare professionals.
With that goal in mind, it’s time to consider your options – and what’s required for different educator positions. For example, some higher education institutions may require doctorate-level education for faculty positions, while others might help you earn your doctorate as you teach. At Chamberlain College of Nursing, faculty receive up to $50,000 in doctoral program reimbursement.
Whether teaching at an academic institution is your goal or you plan to pursue other opportunities in nursing education, here are five tips to get you started:
1. Apply for Adjunct Positions
Adjunct, or part-time, teaching positions represent the typical starting point in academia for most newly-graduated nurse educators. For some MSN grads, adjunct faculty positions are an end-goal; part-time positions allow nurse educators the ability to teach while continuing their work in a clinical setting. For others, they’re the first step toward eventually securing a highly coveted nurse faculty position.
2. Give Your CV a New Focus
Of course, clinical experience is a must for a teaching role, but don’t forget to emphasize opportunities you’ve had to educate others beyond your regular patient teaching activities. Even if you’ve had little or no experience in formal education, your proven ability to share learning in other capacities might give you a leg up on competing job candidates.
Have you oriented or precepted nurses? Highlight it. Even public teaching activities, such as leading CPR classes, can demonstrate your ability to communicate with and impart knowledge to others. If you’re vying for an online teaching position, be sure to include expertise you’ve developed online.
3. Consider Experience-Boosting Opportunities
If you’re short on formal teaching experience required for a particular educator role, look for other ways to hone your abilities, such as leading NCLEX-RN review courses or academic coaching. In digital learning activities, academic coaches assist students in navigating a virtual education environment. They monitor students’ participation and progress, as well as connect students with faculty or resources as needed.
4. Prepare — Really Prepare — for an Interview
In addition to thoroughly researching a prospective employer, refine your teaching philosophy before an interview. Be specific and sincere about why you want to educate nurses, including the aspects of instructing budding RNs that most appeal to you.
Highlight real-world experiences that have led you to teaching, and share examples of ways in which you’ve collaborated on teams and addressed difficult or challenging situations.
Familiarize yourself with academic culture to better “talk the talk” of an educator; and be prepared for nontraditional interview arrangements, especially if you’re seeking an online instructor position. Some applicant screenings take place over the phone or through Skype, so practice to get comfortable with your computer’s camera.
5. Network, Network, Network
Join LinkedIn and other social media groups to gain further understanding of the role of nurse educators and the issues with which they grapple.
Explore membership and participation in professional associations, such as the National League for Nursing, the Professional Nurse Educators Group, and the Association for Nursing Professional Development. Seek out faculty or alumni from your current school to gain practical advice. Ask nursing professors if you can attend their classes, in person or online, to observe their teaching styles and fine-tune your own.
Interested in becoming a nurse educator at Chamberlain College of Nursing? Explore open positions, and how we care for our faculty, at www.chamberlain.com/faculty.
By Lauren Pope
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