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Clinical Nurse Instructor Career Guide

The need for competent clinical educators is growing in tandem with the nurse shortage. We explain what a clinical teacher is, how much they earn, and how to become one in this tutorial.


Registered Nurses who teach the clinical component of a didactic course are known as clinical instructors or adjunct faculty in academia. Students may be taught at a hospital, at home, or in the community. Simply defined, a clinical nursing educator works with students in a clinical setting to provide hands-on training and supplement classroom instruction. Clinical nurse teachers play an important role in the nursing curriculum.

Clinical Nurse Instructors must possess a number of crucial characteristics in order to be successful in their profession:

  • Critical thinking skills

  • Patience

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Communication

  • Resourcefulness

  • Strong writing skills

  • Organization skills

  • Problem solving skills

  • Leadership skills

  • Clinical expertise

  • The ability to be a team player

  • The ability to handle conflict effectively

Tasks and Responsibilities

Clinical nurse educators oversee and assess students' progress during particular nursing clinical activities that are part of the course. Instructors are assigned groups of students that range from four to ten pupils, depending on the institution's policies. Clinical faculty may also have the following responsibilities:

  • Teach students how to administer medications, including correct technique and bedside protocols.

  • Assist as a resource for nursing expertise and drug administration safety.

  • In classroom and clinical settings, supervise and oversee clinical activities, the application of new nursing skills, theories, and information.

  • Provide students with constructive criticism and comments, as well as evaluate their clinical performance.

  • Keep up with developments and advances in their sector.

  • To help students learn, integrate evidence-based practice with patient care delivery and stated priorities.

  • As a mentor, employ educational tactics to help students learn, succeed, and stay in school.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay was $77,360 in May 2017. While the BLS does not distinguish between clinical nurse educators and academic nursing professors, clinical nurse instructors frequently have additional jobs, whether in a hospital or at another academic institution.

Clinical nurse educators in the United States are few in number compared to the number of bedside nurses in the country. As a result, while there is a scarcity of instructors, there are also fewer open positions.

The number of days the instructor teaches clinicals, the kind of program (ADN, BSN, or MSN), whether the program is at a smaller college or community college vs a major university, and whether the program is at a public school or a private institution will all affect pay. Clinical nurse educators' salaries will be affected by all of these factors.

Highest Paying States for Clinical Nurse Instructors

  • District of Columbia - $157,560

  • Florida - $122,050

  • California - $101,930

  • New York - $97,750

  • Connecticut - $97,350


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 69,000 nursing professors in the United States in 2019, with a predicted need of 82,800 in 2028. This is a 20% growth, which is much greater than other post-secondary education jobs. The BLS does not distinguish between clinical instructors and in-class educators; nonetheless, the following figures show that there is a clear demand.

Thousands of potential nursing students are turned away each year, despite a 3.7 percent rise in admissions to baccalaureate nursing schools in 2018. Faculty, clinical locations, classroom space, and clinical preceptors are all in short supply.

  • There were 1,715 academic openings detected in the 2018 Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions.

  • A 7.9% vacancy rate exists in the faculty.

  • A total of 138 new professor jobs were required.

  • By 2025, one-third of present nursing professors in BSN programs will have retired.

  • According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the average compensation of a nurse practitioner is $97,000, compared to $78,575 for a nursing school associate professor.

  • Nursing master's and doctorate programs are not creating enough future nurse educators to fulfill the need.

  • Current and future nurse educators are being enticed away from teaching by higher pay in clinical and private-sector positions.

  • The average age of faculty members continues to rise, reducing the number of productive years in the classroom.

How to Become a Clinical Nurse Instructor

Step 1: Earn a BSN Degree.

A bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) is a standard four-year program that covers everything from health assessments to pathophysiology to anatomy and pharmacology. Clinical rotations in various care areas in hospitals and clinics are included in BSN programs, exposing students to a diverse spectrum of patients and providing a well-rounded nursing education.

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN

You will be qualified to take the test to become a Registered Nurse once you have completed your Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers the NCLEX-RN, or National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCSBN). Every state has its own licensing standards and exam registration procedure, so be sure you're aware with the ones that pertain to you and your location. Furthermore, in order to take the NCLEX, the nursing program must be certified.

Step 3. Obtain Experience

Clinical rotations expose students to a diverse spectrum of care settings. Prior to becoming a clinical nursing educator, you should get experience in a discipline such as medicine, pediatrics, or psychiatry.

Step 4. Complete an MSN degree

Most clinical nurse teachers are advanced practice nurse practitioners or nurse educators with a Master's degree in nursing. While not required in every state, clinical nursing educators with an advanced degree are preferred by most major nursing schools.

Some states, such as Pennsylvania, may accept clinical nursing teachers with a BSN if they are enrolled in a five-year MSN program. Instructors will be required to submit specified requirements to the state, and if the MSN is not finished within five years, they will be barred from working as a clinical nursing teacher.

In New Jersey, however, an MSN degree is required for this post. It's vital to remember that this varies depending on the therapeutic setting. For example, someone might work for a university in Pennsylvania, but if the clinical location is in New Jersey, they'll need an MSN.

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