The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 report projects a nursing shortage through 2024. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) relates that at least part of the nursing shortage is related to a lack of qualified nurse educators. At first blush, it would seem that the prospective job market is wide open for those who earn advanced degrees in nursing education. The field is desperate for qualified nursing instructors to help develop a skilled nursing workforce.
Nursing Education Degree in Hand! I’m Good to Go!
Not so fast! The pressing need for nurse educators is not the case of “someone to fill the void”! The nursing profession needs qualified nursing educators, and a diploma and some excellent skills do not alone fit the bill. The nurse educator not only has to possess a strong base of nursing knowledge and skills but also needs the ability to translate this knowledge to other nurses in a way that has staying power.
Obtaining advanced education as a nurse educator has become more accessible with the advent of online nursing programs that provide flexibility for the working learner. Even though nurse educators are in high demand, there is still a preference for applicants that possess both hard and soft skills.
The Importance of Soft Skills
Tangible technical skills documented and demonstrated on an application for employment are easy to see. Your degree, previous work, and certifications speak for themselves. It is much more difficult to convey the less technical but equally as essential abilities such as the ability to relate to others, take ownership for mistakes, or delegate with finesse.
Soft skills are the personal aptitudes and qualities that allow you to interact and thrive in your relationship with your patients and coworkers. These individual attributes are essential in establishing a good rapport with others and can have a significant influence on career advancement. Leadership and communication are competencies critical and necessary in a nurse educator.
Employers look for the following aptitudes in prospective nurse educator applicants. Nurse educators with strong soft skills are more useful as instructors and contribute to an overall improved nursing workforce. And we all want that!
The following is a list of non-technical skills desired by prospective nurse educator employers.
- Problem Solving
- Ability to work under pressure and time management
- Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Top Soft Skills for Nurse Educators
- Communication is key! Nursing requires communication of all kinds and communication is a two-way street. A nurse needs excellent listening skills and the ability to verbally relay complicated information in a way the recipient can understand. Nurses must deliver factual information in an empathetic way. Nursing in some ways is both an art and science, and there is no area more in need of this synergy than communication. In today’s digital world, the need for relevant, timely and succinct electronic communication is increasingly urgent.
- Teamwork is critical. The current healthcare environment calls for increased collaboration to provide value-based care. Organizations cannot afford to hire individuals who do not “play nice” with others despite otherwise great qualifications. The ability to collaborate and interact with a variety of professionals is vital to nursing education.
- Professionalism is a highly desired attribute. Responsibility, integrity, accountability, and the pursuit of excellence are all qualities sought by colleges and universities in nursing educator applicants. Professional is holding the ethical line while producing valid results in the kindest way possible.
- Problem-solving abilities are necessary. Nurse educators must demonstrate the ability to think on their feet.
- Nurse educators must demonstrate leadership skills. Nurse educators lead the charge of new nurses into the future.
A prospective or currently employed nurse educator should aspire to strengthen both hard and soft skills so that her students experience impactful learning. An MSN/Ed online nursing degree from Walsh University provides a solid background in the humanities along with a holistic nursing education that helps future nurse educators master both soft and technical skills. Nursing education requires a great deal of flexibility and skilled communication. In addition to having expert knowledge in their field of expertise, the nurse educator must also be committed to lifelong learning. Nurse educators demonstrate a high level of ethics and firm leadership abilities in their roles as gatekeepers to nursing’s future. In the spirit of education and leadership, nurse educators should consistently strive to do better and be better by actively seeking out ways to develop robust “soft” skills.
Nurse educators have the unique ability to change careers without changing professions, and opportunities abound in a variety of settings. Nurse educators can work for brick and mortar institutions or in a distance learner environment. They can work in the classroom, or as a specialist educator such as in diabetes management. The nurse educator who aspires to streamline and optimize her career to obtain a specific desired position works on the non-technical people skills as well as clinical excellence. Learn more about how Walsh University’s online Nurse Educator program can equip you with the tools you need to succeed.