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.
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].”
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].
The CNE Examination comprises six content areas[iv] that test nurse educators’ abilities to:
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].
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].
[i] nln.org/professional-development-programs/Certification-for-Nurse-Educators | [ii] nln.org/docs/default-source/professional-development-programs/certified-nurse-educator-(cne)-examination-candidate-handbook.pdf?sfvrsn=2 | [iii] nln.org/professional-development-programs/Certification-for-Nurse-Educators/eligibility | [iv] nln.org/docs/default-source/recognition-programs/detailedblueprint.pdf?sfvrsn=4" | [v] nln.org/professional-development-programs/Certification-for-Nurse-Educators/recertification