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Nurse Administrator or Nurse Educator?

 |  4 Min Read

While both occupations have certain elements in common, there are a number of differences as well. Nursing professionals looking for a leadership role in healthcare should consider these two specializations when obtaining their Master of Science in Nursing.

Nurse Administrators / Managers

A nurse administrator or manager focuses less on patient bedside care and more on the management of the nursing staff at medical facilities, clinics, and health care institutions. They are responsible for a wide range of areas, such as handling the strategic management of personnel, patient care, and resources while maintaining and supporting regulating policies. Most nurse administrators hold a minimum master’s degree and/or a post-master’s certificate and certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Responsibilities of a Nurse Administrator

The nurse administrator directs numerous and diverse projects. Among them, they oversee staff, provide reviews when needed and work to ensure all activities are efficiently and safely coordinated. They may also need to create or edit current procedures that blend with existing policies.

Skills that are necessary in the role of nurse administrators include:

  • Leadership skills
  • Effective communication
  • Business and financial knowledge
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem analysis
  • Creative thinking
  • Being able to adapt to change
  • Being able to handle pressure effectively
  • Possess mediator skills
  • Human resource skills

Nurse administrators often operate in two different arenas:

  • They oversee the operations and functions of staff, dealing with personnel issues and addressing any concerns.
  • They focus their attention on areas that range from financial to human resources to protocol compliance.

Nurse Educators

Nurse educators primarily work in the instructional field with students, and can be found either in a classroom setting or working in practice settings within colleges, universities, and research clinics. As mentors for future nurses, nurse educators contribute to current research, empirical knowledge and the application into clinical practice for the next generation of nurses. Qualified nurse educators are critical for ensuring a competent nurse workforce, so that there are enough teachers for the growing nursing student population. To be a nurse educator, one must have at minimum a master’s degree.

Responsibilities of a Nurse Educator

Nurse educators have a broad spectrum of responsibilities. These can include:

  • Developing nursing curricula
  • Designing new courses of study and programs
  • Instructing nursing students
  • Applying teaching/learning techniques and cutting-edge methods to instruction
  • Evaluating educational progress of students
  • Identifying gaps and assessing learning needs
  • Observing the effectiveness and outcome of the various programs created; implementing, adapting and making changes as needed so that courses achieve their desired outcomes.

In the clinical setting, the nurse educator is responsible for implementing the most current research and standards of care into the clinical practice.

Other responsibilities for nursing educators include conducting research within various medical settings, and participating in panels and discussions hosted by nursing associations. They also may be called to speak at nursing conferences or to write grant proposals, as well as engage in peer reviews. Due to the advanced nature of their responsibilities, nurse educators must maintain a high level of clinical competency and stay abreast of the most current clinical knowledge and methods on healthcare and patient care. In order to stay actively aware of clinical changes, some nursing educators engage in part-time teaching while still working in the clinical environment.

Nurse educators teach within their chosen specialties and are able to impart real-world experiences and knowledge to their students.

Key qualities and attributes a nurse educator should have include being an effective communicator, a creative/critical thinker and an expert in a particular area of instruction. Similar to teachers, they should have strong knowledge in theories of teaching, learning and evaluation. They should also be flexible in course-correcting any instructional methods based on current healthcare changes as well as have an ability to anticipate what future healthcare changes may occur to adapt the curriculum in response to new innovations and methods.

Similarities and Differences Between Nurse Educators and Nurse Administrators

Even though these two occupations have different work settings, both nurse educators and nurse administrators can act as mentors to others. Nurse educators assist nurses with their advancement of studies and skill development, while nurse administrators can offer real-world advice and guidance to colleagues and employees. As leaders, they also play a critical role in recruiting and developing individuals into the health field.

Nurses interested in bringing their professional expertise to an academic environment and coaching nursing students may lean toward becoming a nurse educator. On the other hand, those interested in more of an organizational perspective in their nursing experience should consider specializing in administration or management. The nurse administrator will work primarily with nursing personnel, as well as patients and medical staff.

Leadership-oriented nurses seeking career advancement should consider obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing specialization at Sacred Heart University. The university offers leadership opportunities through three MSN specializations and provides nursing professionals with the ability to identify career paths and goals based on their skill-set.

Sacred Heart University is a regionally accredited school and has trained top-tier clinicians for over 30 years. Call Sacred Heart University at 877-791-7181.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/

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