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How to Increase My Chances at Becoming Unit Educator

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Specializes in Burn/ICU/Pediatrics. Has 3 years experience.

Hey everyone, quick question for all you Nurse Educators.

The Nurse Educator on my unit is graduating with his NP in a year and a half and is leaving the hospital. I want to know what I can do in that time to increase my chances of being able to take his place when he leaves.

This is a rather new idea of mine because I only just found out that he is leaving. So I'm beginning my research journey here.

It is a burn unit in a level 1 trauma center/teaching hospital. It's a step down with ICU capabilities and all RNs are ICU competent. It's also important to note that my educator does not have his Masters, just a BSN. The burn unit is specialized and I assume he was accepted for the position due to being a skilled burn nurse for many years, trumping the masters degree requirement.

I have my BSN (and would like to skip the masters degree for now since it appears to not be required), and have been working on the unit for 2 years. Due to a mass exit, there are only two RNs with more burn experience than me, so even though I'm still rather new, I think I have good enough odds to get my hopes up and start aiming for this position.

I have my ACLS, ABLS (advanced burn life support), and currently in the process of getting my CCRN.

Is there anything else that I can do to really make my resume stand out and increase my chances of taking the unit educator job in 1.5 years?

Thank you all for your input!

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

Well, getting on the path to your MSN in Education would be the first thing that would stand out. That he didn't have it doesn't mean much. My current facility has educators without an MSN, but that is because they got into that position before they established the requirement. Most quality institutions prefer an MSN in that role and for good reason.

If you have only been an RN for two years, I will put forth that you are barely qualified for the job in terms of experience. Usually educator positions need 5 years or more. That being said, the burn part is very specialized. 

If you want to be considered for his role, start now seeking to do what you can to help him with things. Be a preceptor. Head up roll outs for new initiatives. Be a Super User every chance you get. When competencies roll around, get a list from him every few days of who still needs to be checked off and make it your mission to get them checked off. Be on the professional practice council. Unit council. RCA committee. Basically any soft leadership you can.

Learn about adult learning principles. Find out how grown ups learn. Educate yourself on generational differences in learning styles. Start working on making high level PowerPoint presentations, how to make a computer module and brush up on how to critically evaluate research and the steps needed to implement it. Learn about regulatory requirements for professional practice and what the unit educator is responsible for and liable for.

I could go on and on. 

I am not saying you are thinking or doing this, but please, PLEASE be aware that most people who want to go into Education in acute care seem to think it is a cushy desk job. It's not. It pays less than floor nursing most of the time and you work a lot more hours, including at night and on weekends at times. You are responsible for a great many things with very little actual authority to make them happen. And I will be honest - if I had an educator on my team who has only been a nurse for 2-3 years, it would be raising a lot of eyebrows.

Good luck and let us know how else we can help.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

On 10/21/2020 at 9:53 AM, Nurse SMS said:

PLEASE be aware that most people who want to go into Education in acute care seem to think it is a cushy desk job. It's not. It pays less than floor nursing most of the time and you work a lot more hours, including at night and on weekends at times.

Very much this! I knew going in that I would be taking a significant pay it because of losing out on OT, on call, and call back pay. However, when considering the days that are longer than 8 hours and the weeks that are greater than 40 hours, it’s an even bigger difference. Fortunately I have a great boss who is sure that we take comp time for those overages  (I can take a PTO day without using PTO hours basically). During the peak of COVID, it was not at all unheard of to be called in the middle of the night to assist with respiratory PPE (until COVID, airborne precautions in the OR were extremely few and far between). We have educational offerings on weekends to allow more people to attend. Still a better work-life balance for me though. 

On 10/21/2020 at 9:53 AM, Nurse SMS said:

And I will be honest - if I had an educator on my team who has only been a nurse for 2-3 years, it would be raising a lot of eyebrows.

This, as well as a nurse with more experience but limited in the specialty. While not formal leadership, the educator is a leadership role and the experience and expertise should be there to back it up. For someone with less than 5 years in the specialty, they’d better be showing some seriously impressive skills to be considered for an educator position. 

violet87, BSN, RN

Specializes in Burn/ICU/Pediatrics. Has 3 years experience.

Thank you for your replies. Esp the parts about following and helping the current educator, and getting into any soft leadership roles that I can within my hospital.

I'm especially looking for ways to combat the fact that I will have just under 4 years of experience by the time they will be hiring. Things that will show that I'm very serious about the position. (ex: courses, certifications, ect). As I'm not privy to what is out there for pre-educators.

The reason I don't want to start my MSN is because the only educator job I'm interested in is the one on the burn unit at my job. That is what I'm passionate about teaching. I don't want to get an MSN in education just to be turned down and have wasted 50-80 grand and 2 years of full time coursework for a job that is no longer available.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

On 10/21/2020 at 12:42 PM, violet87 said:

Thank you for your replies. Esp the parts about following and helping the current educator, and getting into any soft leadership roles that I can within my hospital.

I'm especially looking for ways to combat the fact that I will have just under 4 years of experience by the time they will be hiring. Things that will show that I'm very serious about the position. (ex: courses, certifications, ect). As I'm not privy to what is out there for pre-educators.

The reason I don't want to start my MSN is because the only educator job I'm interested in is the one on the burn unit at my job. That is what I'm passionate about teaching. I don't want to get an MSN in education just to be turned down and have wasted 50-80 grand and 2 years of full time coursework for a job that is no longer available.

That is understandable re: advancing your education. FWIW, it only cost me $20K to get mine and its opened a lot of doors beyond being a unit based educator. 

I had 5+ years when I got my first educator job and I will be very honest. It became very quickly apparent to me that I just barely was qualified to do this work and that it would have served me better to have more experience. Me and the people I was now in charge of teaching.

There isn't much out there for pre-educators. You can't get certified until you have worked in the specialty for 2+ years. Your best bet is to help with those roll-outs, volunteer for educational endeavors hospital wide (not just in your department) and be able to show you understand the role of the educator and what they are responsible for.

Let your educator know you are interested in going into education. Most good ones are going to be excited by that and take you under their wing. Know that though you want to only be an educator on your unit, all those other things come into play, because sometimes you may have to cover for another unit, sometimes there will be housewide roll-outs you will be required to participate in and the like. You rarely only have to work with and for your own unit.

Good luck!

I worked as an educator in a hospital with only a BSN but my supervisor was very pleased when I decided to pursue the MSN, so I highly encourage looking into it.  It will give you an edge over your competition.

Look for any opportunity to teach.  Talk to management about presenting something at a staff meeting related to an educational need.  Offer to be a super user on new equipment or perform audits.  Offer to be a preceptor to new hires and nursing students.  Anything to show leadership.

I agree with the above advice to make it known to the present educator (and management!) about your intentions. 

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

On 10/21/2020 at 12:42 PM, violet87 said:

....  The reason I don't want to start my MSN is because the only educator job I'm interested in is the one on the burn unit at my job. That is what I'm passionate about teaching. I don't want to get an MSN in education just to be turned down and have wasted 50-80 grand and 2 years of full time coursework for a job that is no longer available.

Sorry to say this, but I think you have a VERY narrow opinion of the future value of an MSN in view of your exclusive desire for your current Burn Unit Educ position.

What happens if you're out of your job (with or without reason)? Without your MSN, you have a snowball chance in Hades to pursue such a position in another Burn Unit.

And I'd bet a month's rent that any MSN with your similar burn experience will likely be hired for that position you covet when it opens. Over you!!

Hospitals are becoming credential-happy. I believe it to be a JCAHO thing. It's what you HAVE TO DO in order to get yourself in the best position to be as highly competitive as poss. NOT really a realistic option to avoid it.

Like I comment, nobody's job is 100% secure. Think about it. All the other suggestions offered are excellent, but your reason for NOT availing yourself of advanced educ is unrealistic in today's work world.

Just as an aside, does your facility offer any tuition assist?

violet87, BSN, RN

Specializes in Burn/ICU/Pediatrics. Has 3 years experience.

It's not that I don't want to advance my education, it's that I don't want to be going backwards if I don't get the position. I wouldn't even have the degree by the time the position is available. Also, there are no burn nurses with their MSN. We all have our BSN and I'm currently second senior in experience. My plan was to keep working on the floor for a few years and then apply to CRNA schools. But when I found out the educator was leaving, I absolute love the idea of taking over and might as well try for it while I stack up floor experience and get all my ducks in a row before CRNA school (house, school loans paid off, car note paid, ect). It really doesn't hurt to try.. unless I throw all my eggs in that basket by going for my MSN in education and it doesn't work out.

Thank you everyone for your input. I've been trying to 'join forces' with my educator and he's really liking the idea so far. I appreciate all of your time!

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

I think it's very admirable that you're sooo passionate about burn nsg and have such a strong desire to branch out into unit education. And while the current educator appears supportive to have you succeed him, I think you're treading on super thin ice while expecting that the position seems like a shoe-in one that you believe that you have dibs. It is admin/upper nsg mgt that will make that decision.

The reality is that corporate HC responds to the dictates of current HR hiring protocols for recruitment and placement of professionals into mgt positions. This has been the case in all my years in acute care, LTC, corporate & private, and civil service.

You're hopefully putting all your eggs in that one proverbial basket - and it could bottom out on you! Bottom line is that I think you're sooo overly  sure that you deserve that position (and that you think it's a done deal for you) that you're NOT looking at the real possibility that it may go to someone else.

And think about it ... that position is still some time away (1 1/2 yrs). In that time, another nurse with years of burn experience (with or working on the MSN) could join your unit. That prob just knocked you down a few notches. Also likely the position will be posted for external applicants. Again, a nurse with better education & experience & creds applies, and the position is now gone.

I fear you're setting yourself up for one h*ll of a disappointment to come. You asked here what to do to improve your desirability, yet you're so resistant re MSN. I think that will be your downfall. Think strongly about all the other suggestions made here.

Good luck.

violet87, BSN, RN

Specializes in Burn/ICU/Pediatrics. Has 3 years experience.

I think that my whole idea is to not put all of my eggs in one basket. Going for my MSN in education would be doing just that since I understand my chances of getting the job are small (however, not impossible or I wouldn't even think of it).

I was asking what I could do increase my chances besides the MSN because I'm going to be working as burn nurse for another few years regardless of the getting the educator position or not, because my long term goal is to stack ICU experience before applying to CRNA schools. I heard about the educator position opening and figured it wouldn't hurt to try and go for it in the meantime while I stack experience.

If I were to get the position as burn unit educator, I would go to school for my MSN in education and pursue a career doing that instead. And it would be perfectly aligned with when I'm ready to go back to school too.

I'm really trying not to put all of my eggs in one basket, or set myself up for disappointment. Now, enrolling in a difficult MSN program while still having to work full time, and while still getting my future outside of work set up, would be one he** of a disappointment if the job was given to someone else.

So, simple resume ramping suggestions are extremely appreciated!

If I achieve this goal, awesome, I get to pursue a career doing burns. If it's given to another employee, awesome for my coworker! And I'm still on track for CRNA and might even have some more cool stuff on my resume.

Thank you to everyone who has commented and all future suggestions.

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

I really wish you well. I hope your goals realize themselves.

One thing - you mention CRNA. From my readings here, it's like schools expect ICU backgrounds for their programs (all those vents). Not too sure if Burn nsg would qualify you.

Good luck.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

As an aside, its super concerning that a nurse with only a couple years of experience is second senior on the unit.

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Agree with my fellow educators here 🙂

Get your MSN. As a Nursing Professional Development Specialist you need to role model higher education.

edit- oops just read that you want to be a CRNA. Sorry, disregard

anewsns

Specializes in Neurosciences, stepdown, acute rehab, LTC. Has 8 years experience.

I am looking for a similar position and am doing all of what people are saying here (including the master in nursing education) to get the job in a few years. Though , I’ve been a nurse for 10 years. 
I’m doing CN3 , primary precepting , increasing my educational roll outs , on a committee , telling key people that I want to go into education, and will get a PCCN. I’m honestly not a super big overachiever usually but am just passionate about education. As nurse Sms said, I’m a super aggressive checker- offer for competencies too - (after I make sure they are competent of course .)  I think the CNE job at my department  may be a bit competitive though. It’s possible since the burn unit is so specific there won’t be as many people trying to get it. 

Edited by anewsns