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Arkansas State University

What Are the Differences Between Nurse Educator and Nurse Administrator MSN Degree Programs?

Nurse educators and nurse administrators both serve as leaders in the nursing field. Yet, there are key differences between the two roles.

The most obvious difference between a nurse educator and a nurse administrator is that the former works with future nursing students to develop their skills within the classroom. The latter works within hospitals and health systems. The nurse executive emphasizes the importance for healthcare providers and other leadership to ensure everything works smoothly for their nursing teams.

Both roles, however, require that healthcare professionals hold advanced nursing degrees — higher than a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Those entering an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Nurse Educator program, such as that offered at Arkansas State University (A-State), are involved in hands-on activities that prepare them for opportunities to educate the next generations of nurses. The program’s courses involve research, clinical expertise and the communication skills required to fulfill a strong connection between professor and student.

In addition to its online MSN – Nurse Educator program, A-State also offers an online MSN – Nurse Administrator program. Individuals who opt for this degree become equipped to be effective leaders within a healthcare organization. Their primary responsibility is maintaining high-level performance among nursing staff in hospitals or clinics.

Similarities Between Nurse Educators and Nurse Administrators

Both nurse educators and nurse administrators are responsible for possessing intensive knowledge and skills in communication with others. These are both high-level roles within the profession of nursing.

With the knowledge nurse educators obtain from their teaching profession, they can eventually secure a position as a nurse administrator if they want to experience the management side of nursing.

Contrasting Professional Roles and Responsibilities

While these two professions share certain characteristics, they are not interchangeable. According to, the role of a nurse administrator involves overseeing “nurse departments in hospitals and other health care organizations…managing medical staff and reporting the nurse department’s development and productivity to the hospital’s CEO.”

This contrasts the responsibilities and roles of a nurse educator. For example, while nurse administrators typically work within a hospital or nursing facility, educators are often found at a university or professional nursing certification program.

Nurse educators solely prepare students for the professional nursing field. Curricula for nurse educator programs involve continuous research to stay on top of nursing and healthcare advancements. Additionally, students in these programs write articles and research papers to contribute knowledge to the growing world of nursing. Some nurse educators choose to teach and work within a hospital simultaneously. Doing so depends on their personal decisions and whether or not they can handle both jobs.

Which MSN Degree Program Is Right for You?

The first few courses scheduled in each program are relatively similar, meaning students will learn the same nursing concepts in the initial stages. The programs gradually branch off into courses that align with either educator or administrator.

How can you decide which program is the best fit for you? Those interested in empowering tomorrow’s nurse leaders and collaborating across a modern healthcare system for the delivery of optimal care should consider enrolling in A-State’s online MSN – Nurse Educator program.

With this degree, graduates will be able to apply effective teaching and learning methods used in various teaching settings with diverse student needs. For example, in the Healthcare Issues and Policy course, students will perform a “critical analysis of healthcare issues and policy which influence advanced nursing practice and the healthcare system.” Practicum in Nursing Education provides an “opportunity to apply models of teaching in classroom and clinical situations.”

Those interested in building leadership skills and healthcare policy and expertise to advance their professional practice while preparing for a broad range of administrative or executive roles should consider enrolling in A-State’s online MSN – Nurse Administrator program.

Students taking this course will use evidence-based practice and quality improvement processes to advance patient healthcare delivery. They will put their critical-thinking skills to the test in classes such as Research Design and Methodology. The Role Development in Advanced Nursing course will prepare nurse administrators for their roles in high-level management positions.

Regardless of which path nurses choose, every future nurse educator and executive will obtain the knowledge needed to secure top positions in their respective fields and establish a solid foundation for the future of nursing.

Learn more about A-State’s online MSN – Nurse Educator and MSN – Nurse Administrator programs.

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