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clarkonair clarkonair (New Member) New Member

What are the challenges in working as a clinical nurse educator?

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I have been a nurse for 7 years now and currently working full time in the critical care area. I also have a per diem job and at the same time, working on my Master's degree. I was a approached by the clinical educator of my per diem job asking me to take his position in September. I know it is long ways but he wants to train me 3 months before he leaves. He already recommended me to the Nursing Management of the hospital and they reviewed my credentials. I did not agree to the plan yet but I am thinking about it. I am considering of taking the position but I have a lot of inhibitions. I don't know if I fit in the position. I am a good clinician but in some certain areas only. It is a small hospital in a descent size community. The hospital has nursing areas that I am not expert on such as OB, pedia, Psych, and others that I don't remember. I feel like I will be intimidated by the expert nurses. I was assured that I will be provided with an extensive training but still, I am becoming anxious about this. I don't know if I will be a good educator. How is the transition gonna be from a staff nurse to an educator? What are the challenging responsibilities of this position? What are other challenges that I need to consider?

These are factors why I am considering this job: extra 15bucks from my previous hourly rate, less physical stress though increasing mental stress (im ok with it), day shift which I love, paid holidays (luv it more), free travel to attend seminars, and other exicting benefits... But I will definitely miss bed side nursing.

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Most people I know who specialize in development (or "Nursing Professional Development" as the specialty is officially called), like it a lot. The pay, the hours, etc. are good and the work is generally more pleasant than a lot of nursing work.

I suggest you browse the nursing journals that focus on that specialty to get a better sense of what that field involves. The "Journal for Nurses in Staff Development" is the main journal. It is published by NNSDO, the National Nurses in Staff Development Organization. There is also "The Journal for Continuing Education in Nursing" "Nurse Educator" and one or two others -- though those journals also serve the faculty of nursing schools.

Finally, I would be sure to schedule a long meeting with the person offering the job (or the person who has it now) as part of your interview process. That's part of what an interview can be about in the early stages ... you finding out the details of what exactly the job expectations are and deciding whether or not it is a good fit for you.

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What a geat opportunity for you. I am a bit biased, but I think clinical education is the best job in nursing. I completely agree with PP - make sure that you have a really good idea of exactly what is expected of you before agreeing to take the job.

If you decide to make the move, you will undoubtedly experience a reaction to this major shift in your work life. When the central focus of your job moves away from direct patient care, it is not uncommon to experience a sense of loss - in my case it was a major jolt. I no longer had that immediate gratification that comes from working with patients. It was a real downer - particularly because educators rarely receive any overt positive feedback from anyone - LOL. There is a great resource I always recommend for beginning educators - McKeachie's Teaching Tips by WJ McKeachie & M Svinicki. It is a handbook that most colleges recommend for their TA's - contains practical information for just about any type of teaching that you need to do, inlcluding advice on handling problem students. You can get it through Amazon.

Another caveat . . . which may raise the hackles of other educators . . is to realize that your customers are managers, directors, and organizational leaders, NOT the people you teach. The students are the 'consumers' of your product, but funding is determined by leaders. So its essential to ensure that all your efforts are tied to their priorities. Otherwise, you may find your job 'de-funded' or eliminated without any advance notice.

Your comments about your lack of clinical background in other areas may reflect some confusion about the role of an educator. We're a bit different from "Instructors"... our knowledge & skills center on the process of education & we work with subject matter experts. So for instance despite the fact that I know very little about rehab nursing, I could develop learning activities by working with a rehab expert. He would control the content (what is supposed to be taught) & I would control the process (how it will be taught). Educators need to adept in all types of methods -- from traditional classroom and on-the-job-training to development of self study modules or leadin discussion groups. I particularly enjoy developing online modules because I like working with the technology.

If you do decide to move into clinical education, I advise you to commit yourself to learning more about education theory and practice and get that MSN, which is really an entry level for nurse educators. Best of Luck to you - keep us posted on your progress.

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