Nurse Educator Certification

Nurse educators teach and mentor soon-to-be and already-licensed nurses in academic and professional settings. In addition to working as teachers and mentors, they commonly serve as facilitators, consultants, researchers, and leaders. Together with other healthcare professionals, they develop educational and informational materials and campaigns; provide consultation to task forces and other groups and agencies; conduct research alongside academics, leaders, and executives; and provide leadership in their own areas of expertise.

Certified nurse educators are nurse educators who have earned certification through the National League for Nursing. They have met the League’s criteria for eligibility and earned the title “Certified Nurse Educator”, or CNE[i]. When applying to opportunities for potential employment, CNE’s arrive onsite having already proven—at least to a certain extent—their knowledge, education, and experience.  For many nurse educators, becoming a CNE might enhance their professional portfolio.  

Nurse Educator Certification

Becoming a certified nurse educator may be an important step for nurses who have graduate-level education and want to establish themselves as professional educators in the field of nursing. According to the National League for Nursing (NLN),

“Certification in any field is a mark of professionalism…It communicates to students, peers, and the academic and health care communities that the highest standards of excellence are being met…Certification is the mark of distinction for nursing faculty[ii].”

Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) Eligibility

The National League for Nursing (NLN) offers two certification options to nurse educators:  

Option A: to earn certification, currently licensed and registered nurses must have a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing with (a)a major emphasis in nursing education, (b)a post-master’s certificate in nursing education, or c). nine or more credit hours of graduate-level education courses. Registered nurses with appropriate education become eligible to test for nurse educator certification. To become a CNE, nurse educators must pass the test according to the NLN’s standards[iii].

Option B: to earn certification, currently licensed and registered nurses must have a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing (with a major emphasis in a role other than nursing education) and two or more years’ employment and experience in a nursing program in an academic institute. All of their experience must be within the past five years[iii].

In either case, nurse educators must be registered and licensed nurses and meet each eligibility criteria at the time that they apply to become CNEs[iii].

Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) Examination

The CNE Examination comprises six content areas[iv] that test nurse educators’ abilities to:

  • Facilitate learning (comprises 22% of the exam)
  • Facilitate learner development and socialization (comprises 14% of the exam)
  • Use assessment and evaluation strategies (comprises 17% of the exam)
  • Participate in curriculum design and evaluation of program outcomes (comprises 19 % of the exam)
  • Pursue systematic self-evaluation and improvement in the academic nurse educator role (comprises 9 % of the exam)
  • Engage in scholarship, service, and leadership (comprises 21% of the exam)
    • Function as a change agent and leader
    • Engage in scholarship of teaching
    • Function effectively within the institutional environment and the academic community

The examination comprises 150 multiple choice questions, 130 of which count toward the score of the exam. The other 20 are questions the NLN tests for reliability to use in future tests. The questions are developed by the National League of Nurses and Advanced Medical Placement and fit within three cognitive levels: recall, application, and analysis. The exams are administered through computer-based testing[ii].

Nurse Educator Certification Exam Example Questions:

  • Which learning activity would provide the learner with the highest level of cognitive learning?
    • Attending a lecture
    • Writing a summary
    • Participating in a case study
    • Reviewing content using presentation software
  • A nurse educator is reviewing program evaluation data. A benchmark indicating that 85% of learners will pass the NCLEX® exam on the first attempt has not been met for the past two years. Which would be a priority recommendation for the nurse educator to make?
    • Lower the NCLEX® pass rate benchmark to 80%
    • Implement an exit exam prior to graduation
    • Evaluate the nursing program’s curriculum
    • Increase the passing grade for each nursing course to 85%
  • A nurse educator is participating on a curriculum committee involved in a major revision of the nursing curriculum. Which is the first step?
    • Aligning the new curricular goals with the mission of the institution
    • Securing faculty representation from another department on the curriculum committee
    • Ensuring that the faculty members agree on the program outcomes
    • Developing a grant proposal to secure external funding for curriculum revisions

Nurse Educator Certificate Renewal

The NLN’s Nurse Educator Certificate lasts for five years. Its shorter duration is meant to hold nurse educators to account for advancing their knowledge and engaging in continuous professional development. To obtain certification renewal, nurse educators must: (a) fulfill professional development requirements, or (b) re-take the CNE examination[v].

Search for Nurse Educator Master's Degree Programs

[i] | [ii] | [iii] | [iv]" | [v]

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