If you enjoy teaching others and have experience and knowledge in a specialist nursing area, becoming a nurse lecturer could be the next step in your career. Read on to discover the qualifications and experience you need, and what it takes to succeed in the role.
What the role involves
Nurse lecturers are employed by higher education institutions to deliver pre- and post-registration courses. Teaching occurs in lecture halls and class-based tutorials, as well as practical skills sessions in laboratory and clinical settings, helping students develop skills on the job as they assess and care for patients.
Most university lecturers expect to carry out research, with the aim of publication in scholarly books or periodicals, which can help to raise the profile of their department. Many work towards a doctorate or specialist qualification while in the job.
The majority of nurse lecturers come to the role after establishing themselves as expert clinicians, and will have experience of teaching and/or supervising students in their specialist field.
As well as having a nursing degree, you will need to be on an appropriate part of the NMC professional register and have worked full-time (or the equivalent part-time) in areas where students were gaining practical experience.
If you don’t have a teaching qualification (PG Cert Learning and Teaching in HE) you will be expected to achieve this as a condition of probation. Under NMC rules, lecturers should begin a postgraduate teaching qualification within 12 months of taking up the job.
Some higher education institutions prefer staff to have completed or nearly completed a PhD before starting, while others allow you to work towards this in the role. Employers will also want to see evidence of scholarly activities, such as research, publication, or audit and evaluation duties.
In addition to holding a recordable teaching qualification, the NMC states that nurse teachers must have a 20% engagement with clinical practice. Midwifery lecturers teaching the application of theory to practice are required to be practising midwives, as well as possessing a teaching qualification.
If you prefer to pursue a more clinical career path, some NHS trusts offer honorary contracts to lecturers and there are opportunities to become a lecturer practitioner, which is usually a jointly appointed role between a provider organisation and higher education institution. Lecturer practitioners work alongside healthcare professionals in a clinical setting to support their learning and care delivery in a specialist area, where their time is split between teaching and clinical work.
Skills and typical duties
To succeed in the role, excellent teaching skills are a must. You will be expected to enthuse, motivate and encourage students and may support them by taking on an advisory or pastoral role.
Excellent organisation and written and oral communication skills are essential, as you will be expected to communicate clearly and confidently with students, tutors, managers, and representatives of external organisations.
In addition to delivering lectures, seminars and tutorials, university lecturers play a key role in designing and developing educational material, implementing new methods of teaching to reflect changes in research, and evaluating learning modules.
Typical tasks include setting and assessing students’ coursework, marking exam papers, visiting students on placement and supervising their research activities. Administrative tasks, such as student admissions, induction programmes and involvement in committees and boards, take up a considerable part of the day.
Most university lecturers carry out personal research projects, and will write up and prepare research for publication. They will complete continuous professional development (CPD) and participate in staff training activities and may be involved in managing or supervising staff.
University lectures are also expected to establish collaborative links with industrial, commercial and public organisations, and represent the institution at professional conferences and seminars.
Settling into the role
If you’re a nurse lecturer starting out in your first job, you can expect an induction period of one to two months. During this settling-in time, you will be able to shadow an experienced lecturer, plan teaching materials and get to know the institute’s policies and procedures. Longer term, some nurse lecturers find that they hold onto their identity and credibility as a clinical practitioner, and it can take some time to embrace their new identity as a scholar and researcher.
For those with the right skills, experience and personal qualities, becoming a nurse lecturer offers a wonderful opportunity to inspire the next generation of nurses, helping to ensure that they are competent and confident in the practice setting.
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