how long should you practice as a nurse before becoming a teacher?

  1. I have considered going on and becoming a nurse educator but am wondering how many years it is recommended that a nurse practices in a hospital before teaching? I am currently in a LPN program and going straight for LPN-RN and then on for BSN, but have been looking at MSN programs for the future. I'm trying to decide between education or NP. I've been in school for so long at this point that I just want to know how much longer it's going to take! I'm not getting any younger!
  2. Visit LanaBanana profile page

    About LanaBanana

    Joined: Oct '05; Posts: 1,042; Likes: 15
    Specialty: Level III cardiac/telemetry


  3. by   puggymae
    There is no hard and fast rule - but different schools require different amounts of time. At the school where I teach you have to have at least 5 years of med/surg experience, plus if you teach a specialty like OB then you need a certification plus 2 years of experience in that area. To just be a clinical instructor you have to have at least two years of full time experience. I have a friend who went to teach at a school right after we graduated from nursing school but she floundered at the job because she didn't have any experience (how can you teach someone to do a sterile dressing change if you have only done one? how can you teach management of a patient load if you have never done it?). It just depends. Good luck with your schooling.
  4. by   veg
    Well there is getting hired as an educator and then getting an MSN in nuring education. Two different things. Look at Walden University for example. There you can go straight from a 2-year degree (AASN) to the MSN and bypass the BSN altogether! Waiting to get the graduate degree is not necessary.

    Depending on where you are willing to work, there are places that might snatch you up right away, if you are willing to accept their salary. Examples might include CNA/LPN schools. As you may know, there are lots of them. In fact, they would love to have RNs period, even without an MSN credential.
  5. by   TheCommuter
    Once you complete your LPN education and gain 3-5 years of experience, you're already qualified to teach CNA school, medical assistant school and LPN school. However, I'd prudently advise you to continue your education to the highest degree level humanly possible because there are still folks out there who think of LPNs/LVNs as glorified aides or attendants. Good luck to you.

    BTW Lana, your avatar is so cute!
  6. by   ProfRN4
    I would agree that a good rule of thumb would be about 5 yrs, at the very least. I have been a nurse for 13 yrs, and sometimes I feel like it's not enough. It also depends on what and where you plan to teach. Obviously, if you are talking about RN school, you still have a ways to go, since you are not even an LPN yet. Where I live, you need at least a BSN , and to be enrolled in an MS program. So for me, this gave me plenty of years to gain my experience, before I became qualified (and you can do the same). Also, it is preferable to have variety of experience. I teach in an ADN program, and I am basically expected to teach anything that comes my way, whether or not it is my specialty. And let me tell you, this is not an easy thing, when you do not have real life experience to back up your lectures. I think the best way to think about whether or not you are ready is to try to explain something to a lay person in a way that they will understand. It is great if you know everything about a particular topic, but can you explain it and make someone understand it? Can you answer the tons and tons of questions that students have? I love my job, but I'll tell you, it takes a lot of experience. But it is well worth it!!
  7. by   VickyRN
    Around our area of Eastern NC, ~ 2 years of fulltime bedside experience is all that is required for either clinical instructor or classroom. And, depending on the program, either a BSN or MSN is required.
  8. by   elkpark
    Let me turn the question around for you (I love to reframe):

    How much experience do you think the people teaching you should have??
  9. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from elkpark
    How much experience do you think the people teaching you should have??
  10. by   VickyRN
    Very interesting debate! Unfortunately, due to the acute shortage of nursing faculty in many areas, rigid requirements for bedside experience may need to be reexamined and creative solutions formulated. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing in the white paper "Faculty Shortages in Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs: Scope of the Problem and Strategies for Expanding the Supply" recommends the following:

    In a similar vein, many nurse educators continue to accept the traditional view that significant clinical experience as a registered nurse is essential before matriculating in official graduate programs that prepares students for specialization and/or advanced practice. This position may not be accurate and is not supported in the empirical literature. It certainly bears scrutiny in the face of decreasing faculty resources. While high academic standards should not be compromised, rethinking any artificial eligibility criteria may be a useful strategy to increase enrollments in nursing graduate programs.

    Not only should we reconsider the experience prerequisite for nurses seeking graduate education, we also should reconsider whether a nursing undergraduate degree is an essential prerequisite to graduate study in nursing. One excellent source of future faculty includes individuals who earned degrees in fields other than nursing. Second-degree or accelerated programs transition these individuals into nursing careers in streamlined ways and often in an abbreviated time frame.

    10. As they exist, consider reducing or eliminating experience or other artificial prerequisites for graduate study....
    13. Attract more second-degree students to the nursing profession and encourage these and other high-achieving students to consider the faculty role early in their education.

    I know of one young nurse educator (still in her 20's!) who barely had two years' bedside experience, who also was a recipient of one of the Nurse Educator Fellowships here in NC. She is now happily and productively teaching fulltime in a local ADN program.

    At our College of Nursing, second-degree students (with NO nursing experience) can apply to the Nursing Education Program in the Alternate Entry Program with the stipulation "Some concentrations require one to two years of clinical experience in a selected setting prior to taking specific clinical courses; however, during the time the student is gaining this experience, the student can take selected core courses which are available online."

    The North Carolina Board of Nursing requires that faculty teaching in a program leading to initial licensure "have two calendar years or the equivalent of full time clinical experience as a registered nurse."

    In posting this information, I am not necessarily condoning such practices, but these are occurring in direct response to the nurse faculty shortage.
  11. by   llg
    I think there is a big difference between:

    1. Experience required to enter graduate school ... and...
    2. Experience required to actually teach

    I have no qualms about accepting nurses with minimal experience into grad school -- other than the fact that I have met MANY nurses who later regret their grad school choices and wish they had gotten a little experience first so that their career path decisions could have been better informed.

    However ... I strongly believe that a person should be at least competent in a field if they are going to teach it. Research DOES show that it takes at least 2 years of practice experience to be competent in an area. (See the work of Benner and others.)

    That competence can be developed while a person is in grad school and shortly after. It doesn't have to all come before admission to grad school. But it should come before actually teaching.

    For the record: I practiced as a staff nurse for 2 years before entering graduate school at the age of 24. I started teaching (grad school) at the age of 26. So, I have some first-hand experience in a rapid progression from high school to teaching grad school. I have personally experienced the pros and cons. While things are always a little different for each person, there are some issues that seem to be common across the board.