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Clinical Educator vs Staff Development

Educators   (3,816 Views 7 Comments)
by UTVOL3 UTVOL3 (Member) Member

UTVOL3 has 6 years experience and specializes in NICU, adult med-tele.

9,327 Profile Views; 278 Posts

Hi folks,

Could someone explain the main differences between the (hospital) staff development nurse role and clinical educator role? I realize this will vary by facility, and that there is some overlap.

I am looking at nurse educator jobs within hospitals. I prefer staff development, this is where my limited experience has been and I've enjoyed it. However, clinical educator jobs seem more available. I get that a clinical educator is typically unit based. But other then that, what are the differences?

Thank you!

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llg has 42 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

6 Followers; 13,213 Posts; 59,115 Profile Views

As a general rule -- and you seem to aware that things will vary from place to place -- "Clinical Educator" roles are closer to the bedside than other staff development roles. In a Clinical Educator role, you are more likely to be working 1 on 1 with a nurse at the bedside, teach, coaching, maybe precepting, etc. -- or working "1 step back" from the bedside, supporting the preceptors, overseeing the orientees, etc. You may be taking care of the inservice on the new piece of equipment or making sure people get checked off on competencies, etc.

In a "Professionaro Development" role ... you might be doing all the same things as the "Clinical Educator" I described above. However, when a facility has both types of educators, then the Staff Development Specialist (or whatever) is usually the one at either a slighter higher level and/or a little further from the bedside. Overseeing orientation, teaching classroom courses, planning and evaluating large-scale educational activities, teaching leadership classes, preceptor prep classes, etc. Less hands-on at the bedside, more planning, teaching, and evaluating larger scale projects.

In some places, the Clinical Educators report to the clinical unit -- and are required to work weekends, holidays, off-shifts, etc. They may be required to take a patient assignment when things get busy and/or a staff member is sick. The Professional Development person might report to a central education department and help out clinically occasionally, but not be as obligated to do so on a regular basis or be "in the staff count" for patient care shifts, do nights, weekends, holidays, etc.

As you know, the particulars vary widely from position to position -- but that's the general gist that is commonly found. Always be clear on who the position reports to and what their priorities are for the particular position in question.

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UTVOL3 has 6 years experience and specializes in NICU, adult med-tele.

278 Posts; 9,327 Profile Views

Thank you! Your response is tremendously helpful.

:inlove:

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nurse2033 is a MSN, RN and specializes in ER, ICU.

3 Articles; 2,123 Posts; 28,486 Profile Views

My job title is Clinical Educator but I function also as a Staff Developer at times and, (although I try to stay out of it) a bit of Clinical Nurse Specialist. I work at a small hospital and my reach is great. At a much larger organization, my lane would be much more narrow. I would take that into consideration. I have a lot of freedom and flexibility, and love it because of that. As long as I get the job done, everyone is happy. I agree with LLG. Good luck.

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boarder1025 has 8 years experience.

8 Posts; 1,200 Profile Views

I am going to finish my NP in two years. Education and patient advocacy is my passion. Working with nurses to achieve both would also work from the ground up and make a broader impact. What are your suggestions for focus?

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llg has 42 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

6 Followers; 13,213 Posts; 59,115 Profile Views

I am going to finish my NP in two years. Education and patient advocacy is my passion. Working with nurses to achieve both would also work from the ground up and make a broader impact. What are your suggestions for focus?

If you want to be a nurse educator (either in Staff Development or in a university) ... you should be taking courses on nursing education and getting practice being an educator. Unfortunately, you are probably not getting much, if any, of that in your NP program.

Which role do you really want to fulfill as your primary role? The direct patient care role as an NP? ... or a nurse-educator role? That should determine your choice of graduate programs. If you are passionate more passionate about teaching than providing direct primary care to patients, why did you choose an NP program?

If you are more interested in patient education (and not nursing education), there are programs and courses that focus on that. Find one and take it.

NP's sometimes get staff education jobs. But when they do, they need to "play catch up" to learn to be an educator. If that is what you want to do ... look for classes in nursing education that you can take as electives in your NP program... or simply as extra classes. You can also find continuing education programs.

I don't mean to be harsh, but I don't understand why you are investing in an NP program if being an NP is not your passion. If education is your passion, focus on that.

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AJJKRN has 6+ years experience and specializes in Medical-Surgical/Float Pool/Stepdown.

1,224 Posts; 21,095 Profile Views

I'm curious if an MSN in Leadership will still get me into the paths to being involved in staff development within a hospital.

When I look at the MSN education track it seems to only focus on avenues with colleges/universities. I'm hoping the leadership track is going to meet my needs more so than the education track but I would value anyone's opinion or experience.

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