10 Most Important Traits of the Best Nurse Educators

Nurse educators are registered nurses who have advanced training, experience and education. As both nurses and teachers, they fulfill the role of instructor and mentor to students, other nurses and clinicians in schools, hospitals and communities. One of the most important and essential pieces of the American health care system, nurse educators play a vital role in training the next generation of nurses in the details, complexities and advances of good care.
For the nurse who has often wondered about a job as a teacher, becoming a nurse educator can seem like a dream job, and in many ways it is. Important, challenging, meaningful, person-centered — a career as a nurse educator can truly be rewarding, especially if you have these 10 traits.

10 – A Passion for Nursing

Good nurse educators love being nurses. They know the job isn’t perfect; long hours, stressful situations and understaffing can wear a person out. However, the best nurse educators have a visceral connection to the work of providing patient care. They believe in the mission of nursing, and those around them know it.

09 – A Zeal for Teaching

In addition to a love of nursing, the best nurse educators also love teaching. When a student is taught by an educator who loves facilitating someone else’s learning, that student responds with increased effort and better retention. Good nurse educators believe in the role and purpose of education, and they embody that belief.

08 – Approachability and Warmth

Because nurse educators are in a position of authority, the more approachable they are, the more their students will gain and learn from interaction with them. From having open office hours to radiating genuine warmth in interactions with students, the best nurse educators convey their willingness and desire to be engaged by learners.

07 – Excellent Organizational Skills

Nurse educators have full plates, and without top-notch organizational skills, they can easily get buried beneath piles of grading, assessments and more. Students depend on instructors to give thorough and timely feedback on tests, papers and labs. The best nurse educators employ solid organization techniques, so their students’ needs are met.

06 – Clinical Expertise

Female Doctor
Female Doctor – Nurse

A good teacher is only as good as the material they know, and an excellent nurse educator’s grasp of the knowledge, skills and practices of nursing is always exemplary.

05 – Patience

Nursing students enter programs with a wide variety of experiences, skills, abilities and education, and the best nurse educators remember that. While it can be frustrating when students struggle to grasp material — especially because it is so important — good teachers know learning takes time. They keep their expectations in check and explain the material time and again.

04 – Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is a tremendous aid in the classroom, and a good nurse educator embodies it without ego or arrogance. For students, learning new material can create insecurity and self-doubt. The confident educator can effectively calm students’ anxieties and ease their fears by simply being self-assured in the ability to teach anyone how to be a nurse.

03 – Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is extremely valuable across the field of nursing as a whole, but in a classroom environment, it can mean the difference between a student giving up or continuing to try. Nurse educators with high emotional intelligence can identify and supply students who will benefit from added help.

02 – Good Communication Skills

Good communication skills don’t just mean an ability to convey knowledge in an understandable way, and the best nurse educators remember communication is always a two-way street. Listening to students’ concerns and questions is just as important as presenting material in an engaging and memorable way.

01 – A Desire to Mentor

Without a desire to mentor, a nurse educator can’t quite do the job. The history of medicine is the history of a teaching and mentoring profession. Knowledge is only good to the degree it can be put into practice, and the best nurse educators take those they teach under their wing in order to help them become excellent care-givers, not just excellent students.