Nursing Educator Role in a Clinical Setting

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A nurse that holds a Master’s Degree in Science as a Nurse Educator has the ability to teach, develop, and shape the new generation of nurse professionals. Nurse Educators can work in a variety of landscapes, such as academic nursing institutions and clinical settings. Health care has evolved tremendously, thereby, forcing all health care providers, especially nurses to have an ongoing professional development. This is where a nurse educator comes in. Wherever they are working, such as a school or hospital setting, they are expected to read and learn new research and disseminate the information to new and seasoned nurses. This report will focus on a nurse educator’s role in a clinical or hospital setting.

The Role of a Clinical Educator

The role of a Clinical Educator, or also known as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist (NPDS), in a hospital setting slightly differs from the one who works in a school setting. The professors at the school are focused on teaching aspiring nursing students who are still in the process of becoming a nurse, whereas the educators within the hospitals help promote professional role development of novice nurses to expert level. They help new hires develop and maintain their nursing knowledge, not only at the time of orientation, but throughout their employment. They also ensure that seasoned nurses remain up to date. According to Walsh University (2018), “within the hospital setting, nurse educators serve as partners for practice transitions, learning facilitators, change agents, mentors, leaders, champions of scientific inquiry, and advocates for the specialty” (para. 6).

The rapid change in health care has created knowledge gaps for the professionals who work in the industry. Nurses must continuously keep learning during their careers in order to stay informed and educated on standards of care, treatments, and other healthcare trends. The NPDS plays an important role in contributing and promoting this education, since they must adhere to the Nursing Professional Development (NPD) Standards that are defined by the American Nurses Association (ANA). As patient care continues to evolve, NPD professionals must refresh their roles and responsibilities to ensure that current gaps are bridged by constantly educating staff using evidence-based research and practices through online continuing education programs, simulation, and face-to-face interactions (Warren, Harper, & Wilson, 2017). Through these efforts, the NPDS is able to enhance nursing professional practices within their specific healthcare setting.

Overall, the role of a clinical educator can be crucial for the success of the organization. Not only are they contributing to the development of nurses, but they also are cognizant of the challenges that nurses have to deal with. As a change agent, they can provide added value by identifying ways to reduce errors and streamline processes for increased efficiencies that benefit the patient and the hospital.

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Analysis and Application of Tripartite Model

The three main areas within the tripartite model for nurse educators are: teaching, service, and scholarship. Depending on the nurse educator’s role, the amount of time dedicated to each area can vary. For a clinical educator, all three aspects are equally important, but within a clinical setting, teaching and service will take the largest portion of time. Within this section, we will analyze the three areas, and generate and discuss a plan for meeting each aspect.

Teaching is the most important role for a clinical educator, or NPDS. This is due to a large portion of their work focusing on ensuring that nurses have access to the appropriate training in order to possess the necessary skills to succeed. They are responsible for educating and mentoring the next generation of nurses through a myriad of training and development programs in a healthcare facility. The role of teaching requires the educator to take proactive efforts to be a change agent by expanding the vision of the nurses they influence (Bradley, 2011). Within a clinical setting, one of the expectations for a nurse educator would be creating new training curriculum. The educator would have to evaluate, design, implement, and incorporate new clinical programs to improve practices for the benefit of patient care. This would also include recognizing areas for improvements where training is outdated or inadequate, and identify the proper training methods to mitigate these gaps. A perfect example for this role in a clinical setting is during an annual competency for nurses. Nurse educators are responsible for ensuring that all staff especially the nurses remain competent and educated about old and emerging nursing practices.

Nursing is a profession that by its very nature is focused on service; therefore, most nurses will have ample exposure within a clinical setting. Yet, the aspect of service transcends much more than the day-to-day job requirements. Service requires the clinical educator to contribute to nursing profession above and beyond what is required of them, without financial compensation. Some examples could be serving on committees or review boards, or volunteering to their educator services to the community or as part of medical missions in other countries. Through service, clinical educators are able to learn and appreciate the diverse needs of patients and minimize unintended harm, and use these lessons to help promote cultural competency amongst those they mentor and teach (Adegbola, 2013).

Though scholarship is not clearly defined for a clinical educator, it is still one portion of the tripartite model that must be acknowledged. This is because clinical educators are constantly learning and enhancing their knowledge and skill sets through everyday practice. Moreover, they are participating in conferences, lectures, workshops, and other events that contribute to their development. It is through their learning that they are able to share new information and practices with nursing faculty in their respective organizations. This seasoning can also be beneficial in the transition of an educator from a clinical to an academic setting, since they are bringing a wealth of experience and evidence-based practices that could foster innovation in new methods of care. Through scholarship, a nurse educator can transform curricula to train nurses to be an effective balance of caring clinicians and change agents in their practice (Cusson, Meehan, Bourgault, & Kelley, 2019). An example of a nurse educator practicing this role is when they provide sufficient data to the nurses when teaching new practices. By doing this, staff nurses will be much more eager to ask questions and learn from them because they know they are getting factual information from people they trust.

There are many opportunities on how nurses are able to practice the scholarship role. For this paper, a particular setting where this can be practiced is in a busy Urology clinic, where doctors do not only see patients for regular follow-ups, but also provide invasive procedures, where nurses are expected to assist. Urologic diseases are growing in the United States, and if we compare it to other departments like cardiology and pulmonology, it is probably one of the least popular departments that a nurse would choose to work in. Not many nurses are trained to take care of patients with these conditions, which highlights the importance of having nurse educators. As a nurse educator assigned to oversee the nurses at this particular clinic, it is very important that he or she continues to educate his/herself about diseases by reading scholarly articles and research from American Urology Association journals. Additional learning would also be possible by attending urology conferences yearly, where they can interact and exchange ideas with fellow nurses and physicians from around the United States. This will not only expand their network, but also their knowledge that will help them teach and practice nursing more effectively.


  1. Adegbola M. (2013). Relevance of service learning to nursing education. The ABNF journal : official journal of the Association of Black Nursing Faculty in Higher Education, Inc, 24(2), 39.
  2. Bradley, D. (2011). Scope and Standards. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development 27(2), 92-93.
  3. Cusson, R., Meehan, C., Bourgault, A., Kelley, T., (2019). Educating the next generation of nurses to be innovators and change agents. Journal of Professional Nursing (JPN). Retrieved from
  4. Walsh University Online (2018). What does a Nurse Educator in a Hospital setting do? Retrieved from
  5. Warren, J.I., Harper, M.G., Wilson, C. (2017). Nursing Professional Development Specialist. American Nurse Today: Official Journal of American Nurse Association. Retrieved from
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