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Becoming a Nurse Educator in the Digital Age: Everything You Need to Know

The world needs more talented nurse educators. The lack of available faculties is one of the driving issues when it comes to offsetting the nursing shortage. The interest is there, and the demand is there, but the number of students that a program can accept and the number of clinics and hospitals offering clinical training are limited.

If you are currently a nurse, then you can become a nurse educator. Being a nurse educator is a great, rewarding career path that can make a difference in society. Not only will you be able to enjoy the laudable work/life balance that academics have, but you’ll also be able to work in a far more relaxed, easy-going career path.

If you’ve been burning out in your current position and have been looking for a way out, then moving into nursing education is the best path forward. Not only can you continue to use your expertise to its fullest, but you can also continue to make a big difference in the lives of your patients. Yes, you won’t be working directly with patients any longer (unless you go into clinical training education), but the expertise and knowledge you pass on will live on.

Transitioning into the faculty staff of a university is great for your mental health, a great way to slow down your career, and a great way to leave a lasting legacy. The good news is that you don’t even need to invest your time or energy in earning a PhD. While research doctorates are still important in the healthcare industry, they’re not the only doctorate you can earn to qualify as a nurse educator.

Instead, you’ll want to apply for an Ed.D. This innovative program has been designed for nurses looking to transition into the academic sphere and will prepare them to train other nurses in many key ways.

Like many things, the internet has changed the way that things are done. In the past, you had few options to advance your qualifications and get the education and licensing required to make big career changes, particularly in demanding careers like nursing. You had to either take time out of your career to take on a degree full-time or make do with the part-time night school options in your area.

One of the ways that the pandemic has improved society is with online education. Online degrees were usually clunky and difficult to use and learn from, so they weren’t a popular option in the early 2000s. Since the pandemic forced universities to close, massive investments were poured into improving the online learning infrastructure.

What this means for students now is that they have improved access and digital resources to retrain. One of those options? The Ed.D. This online degree prepares you to become a nurse educator and can be completed online and on a part-time basis in just two years.

Just because it’s remote, however, doesn’t immediately mean that it’s foolproof. If you want to succeed and smash this program out of the park, you’ll want to use this guide:

Your Route Into Academics

When it comes to transitioning your career into academics know there’s once again going to be a degree requirement. This is true for every nurse, even APRNs. While you may be considered if you hold a DNP, that alone may still not be enough to get you the job. The good news, however, is that you don’t need to earn a PhD to be considered.

You can instead establish all the skills you’ll need to educate, manage a classroom, and improve learning outcomes with an Ed.D. Educational doctorates are relatively new and are becoming more popular to help highly trained nurses transition into this bold new career path.

The Ed.D isn’t just for nurses, however, so you need to be careful about the program you apply to. Nursing education is just one of the available Rockhurst University online ed.d programs. The other program options are for those who want to teach in higher education or K-12 settings.

Nurse education is fundamentally different from traditional academia, in that their training needs to be clear, and hands-on, and must cover a set amount of information so that their students can pass the licensing exam.

Technically, earning a PhD or DNP isn’t enough because those degrees won’t give you the skills or knowledge to lead a classroom. That’s why even those with those doctorates may want to consider adding an Ed.D to their roster. If you don’t have a doctorate already, however, don’t worry. The minimum requirement is a master’s degree, so your MSN or master’s in leadership should help you qualify.

What to Look for in an Online Degree

The reason why an online program is right for you is that it lets you continue to work. Most don’t have the luxury of not working. Either your retirement planning gets thrown off, you lose access to key benefits, or you just want to continue to get paid your current salary. Thanks to the rise of online education options, however, you don’t have to choose between progression and your income. Instead, you can combine them.

For the best results, you must check for a few key traits before you apply.

Is It Accredited?

The first thing that you need to ask yourself is if the degree in question is accredited. Like every degree in nursing, accreditation is essential. You won’t need to earn a licensing degree the same way as you did when you were advancing to become an APRN, true, but the process is similar.

What Resources Are Available?

You need to know what resources and online tools are available to you to help you succeed. If something is missing, it isn’t the end of the world, so long as you have a private or even free-to-use option online. There are many great tools out there today, and since universities have a responsibility to help students with accessibility issues, you may be able to have these tools paid for you as part of your tuition. There’s no guarantee, of course, as they may instead insist on you using their accessibility tools.

Regardless, know that the options available to help facilitate your online learning are not the be-all-and-end-all. You can look for options yourself if it helps you learn more efficiently at home.

What the university does need to provide is a strong digital platform, the ability to reach out to student success sources, like a coach or mental health advisor, and also access to academic tools, like an online library.

Establishing a New Routine

Even if you have already completed an online degree while doing your job as a nurse, don’t be surprised if it’s hard to pick back up later on. Working while learning is difficult, and just knowing you can do it and it has done it isn’t enough, particularly if it’s been some time. Considering that online education has only just seen large investments and improvements, most nurses won’t have that experience to fall back on, either.

That’s why everyone needs to start preparing for a new routine from the moment they hit that apply button. Setting yourself up for success starts with getting your body used to working both at your job and also on your degree.

Start first with your health routine. Unless you work unpredictable shifts, it’s important to start being very strict about when you sleep and when you wake up. A routine can help you get your circadian rhythm in order. This rhythm helps you get tired at the right time and then wakes you up in the morning like clockwork. Done right, you can improve the quality of sleep.

You’ll also want to get into the habit of preparing healthy meals and snacks in advance to save yourself time during the week and benefit from a healthy selection of meals to keep your brain fuelled.

Follow up with a light workout and stretch routine. You’ll want to do this in the morning and before you get started with the educational portions of your day. Exercising helps improve circulation and boosts oxygen flow to your brain. This will help you think more clearly and feel more alert.

Of course, that’s just the start of your routine-changing efforts. You’ll also want to set aside blocks of the day where you’ll work on your degree. Rather than only using the block of time you have after work, however, split it up. Different learning tools will help you break up your day, so you can give yourself more free time and absorb the information you hear or read.

For example, you could listen to a podcast, audio interview, or even lecture while driving to work and back. You can read a recommended article on your lunch break. Adding these smaller chunks of time throughout your day will help minimize the amount of effort needed at the end of the day.

Finally, make sure to add relaxation time. If possible, try to avoid working or learning in the hours leading up to bed. This is your time to decompress and relax, so that you can get the deep sleep you need to start it all over again.

Setting Up Your Home Office

Unless you already have a home office neatly set up, it’s time to erect a space. Most people won’t have a room they can dedicate as their office, and that’s okay. Try to find a quiet corner where you can set up a desk.

You’ll want it to be near a window. While windows can be distracting, the blue-white light outside is very beneficial for your productivity. Seeing and being around nature, even if that’s just your house plants, is also a great way to boost your mood.

As for the space itself, you’ll want a desk that’s at the right height for you. Many desks and chairs are adjustable for this reason.

You’ll want to be able to sit and type with your back, wrists, and neck supported. This will mean getting either a monitor or a stand so that you can raise the screen you are looking at. Staring down will only hurt your neck and often causes headaches.

Populate your desk with devices that will help you learn, even if it’s not traditional. Those that have trouble focusing, for example, tend to learn more and pay attention better when they have something to fidget with.

Work with how you learn, so that you can absorb the information and commit it to memory. This may be done by keeping your hands busy, or by using the text-to-speak feature on a pdf. If you’re a visual learner, use artistic elements in your notes so you can link information back.

There are many great memory tricks. Learn them, use the ones that work best, and commit that information to memory without stress.

Doing More on Your Breaks

Many people have heard that breaks are good for productivity – and they can be. The only caveat is that not every break is made the same. If you sit at your desk and scroll mindlessly through your phone, you aren’t relaxing. Similarly, taking breaks when you’re tired frequently can also mess up your concentration. Yes, it’s hard to work hard after a day of work, but if your concentration keeps breaking for one reason or another, you’re only pushing your milestones back, so there’s more work overall.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, start by setting up timers. Do one main thing, like watching a lecture and writing notes, reading an article, or doing an assignment, and then take a break. If the activity you’ve chosen is longer than an hour, break it up. Every thirty minutes, take a ten-minute break, for example. The exact timings are up to you, but in general, you’ll want your productive time to be three times longer than your break.

When you’re on that break, refuel. Drink a glass of water, have a healthy snack, and stretch. For longer breaks, go for a walk outside and ideally around nature. By physically removing yourself and catering to your physical needs, you can then return feeling far more refreshed.