10 characteristics of a great nurse educator

Stories - Book StoriesNursing educators can often seem like the boogie man to nursing students who are just trying to get through school. Not all of them are like this, though, and here are ten characteristics students should look for when seeking mentorship from a nurse educator.


Student nurses need a patient, guiding hand – whether in the classroom or in clinicals. Good nurse educators are patient with the questions and problems that their students present, and they answer in a way that makes the student feel like they are not a bother.


Clarity is important for any nurse, but it is a vital characteristic of someone who is teaching nurses. A nurse educator should make the concepts and the objectives of the nursing curriculum clear, easy to understand, and free of convoluted tangents.


Teachers need to know their stuff, and this should be evident in how they present nursing materials. They don’t need to be scholars, but they need to understand what they are teaching and convey that information to the students in a way that can be understood.


Not everyone is funny, and that’s okay. However, an educator with a sense of humor – or at least a laid back persona – can make the class time and the clinical times easier to endure, and possibly make a student more willing to learn.


All nurses need compassion, but educators have to extend that compassion to their students who are trying their hardest to become nurses. Compassion means that the teacher understands what the student is going through and takes steps to help them in their goal to become nurses.

Up to Date

Nursing is an ever changing profession, and nurse educators need to stay up to date on the current practices in the field. This goes beyond getting CEU hours, but also knowing what the latest trends in nursing are from the prospective of a floor nurse.


A nurse educator who never worked as a staff nurse is a bit of a red flag. To properly teach nurses, an educator needs to know how the flow of the floor works, what it takes to get through a shift, and the common issues that all floor nurses face.


All nurses need to be organized, and this extends to nurse educators as well. They should have well-presented PowerPoints, nicely typed handouts, and a definite plan in mind to reach the objectives that are important for each student to learn.


It helps to have a nurse educator who is connected to nurses that work in facilities because this offers students the benefits of finding a mentor, getting a job, and learning from other nurses. Professional and friendly relationships between nurses and educators mean that the educator has their pulse on the nursing profession in the community.


Scholarly is not the same as knowledgeable because knowledge is something merely learned and scholarship connotes a sense of research. Nurse educators should be researching into evidence based practices or at least know the latest research that is important to practice in the real world of the floor nurse.

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