Nursing Professor: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a nursing instructor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about employment outlook.

Nursing professors are required to have a minimum of a master's degree in nursing and several years of practical nursing experience. They must also have their state nursing license.

Essential Information

Nursing professors are registered nurses (RNs) who also hold graduate degrees. They are at the forefront of every nursing student's education, teaching nursing in colleges, universities and hospital-based nursing schools. There is a high demand for nursing professors due to the increasing number of applicants to nursing schools. Excellent leadership, public speaking and oral communication skills are required of nursing professors in order to convey their knowledge face-to-face with students and graduate staff.

Required Education Master's degree at minimum
Other Requirements State nursing license and nursing experience
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 19%
Median Salary* (2015) $67,480 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Description

Nursing professors develop and implement curricula in order to prepare students adequately for the challenges presented within all aspects of the nursing field. In order to keep up with the current needs of nursing, professors revise their programs where and when necessary. Like nurses, professors often specialize, teaching the areas in which they have the most experience, such as pediatrics, mental health or acute care.

Job Duties

The duties of a nursing professor are many and varied. In addition to classroom teaching, they supervise and advise students, conduct clinical research and present scholarly work at nursing conferences. They may be asked to chair committees or even become deans of the colleges of nursing where they teach.

Job Requirements

Nursing professors must possess good oral communication skills in order to be effective. In addition, they must think like instructors versus nurses and resist the urge to carry out nursing assignments and duties for students in the classroom. They keep current in their areas of expertise by reading professional journals, and some work as part-time clinicians in order to maintain clinical competence.

Education Requirements

Although there is a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP), the highest academic degree in nursing is the Ph.D., which prepares individuals for teaching and research. Unfortunately, according to the BLS, prospective nursing students are being denied acceptance to nursing schools because there are not enough well-qualified nursing instructors. In data acquired in 2006, nursing instructors were found to be less credentialed than they were four years prior, according to the National League for Nursing.

Many employers require nursing professors to possess a master's degree and Ph.D., and some master's and doctoral programs offer specialized training in nursing education and include an education certificate. Required core courses of advanced degrees typically include:

  • Nursing theories
  • Healthcare data management
  • Advanced clinical care
  • Ethics and Law
  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Policy, politics and economics
  • Capstone project
  • Advanced practice nursing in healthcare
  • Nursing education practicum
  • Research in advanced nursing

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers earned a median annual salary of $67,480 in 2015. Employment opportunities for postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers are expected to grow by 19% over the 2014-2024 decade, per BLS.

The demand for nursing professors will be high through 2024, which means that those planning to enter the field of postsecondary teaching to instruct classes in nursing should find many career opportunities they can pursue. Nursing professors teach classes in nursing to prepare new graduates to enter the nursing field.


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