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Nurse Educator vs. Nurse Practitioner: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Nurses play an important role in the medical field by providing care and support to patients. There are many different types of nursing positions, each with its own set of responsibilities. Two common roles are that of a nurse educator and a nurse practitioner. In this article, we compare and contrast these two positions, discussing the similarities and differences between them.

What is a Nurse Educator?

Nurse Educators work in hospitals, clinics and educational institutions to teach registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and nurse aides (CNAs). They develop curriculum, create lesson plans and deliver lectures and clinical instruction. They also evaluate student progress and provide feedback to help them improve. Nurse Educators typically specialize in a particular area of nursing, such as pediatrics, geriatrics or surgery. They often have several years of experience working in their specialty before becoming educators. Nurse Educators typically hold a master’s degree in nursing, although some positions may only require a bachelor’s degree.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A Nurse Practitioner is a Registered Nurse with advanced training in a specialty area of nursing. They provide direct patient care and may also serve as a patient’s primary care provider. Nurse Practitioners are trained to diagnose and treat health conditions, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications. They also provide education and counseling to patients on how to prevent and manage diseases. Nurse Practitioners typically work in hospitals, clinics, private practices or other healthcare settings.

Nurse Educator vs. Nurse Practitioner

Here are the main differences between a nurse educator and a nurse practitioner.

Job Duties

Although nurse educators and nurse practitioners share some of the same duties, they also have unique job responsibilities. A nurse educator’s primary responsibility is to teach nursing students about all aspects of being a nurse. They do this by leading classroom instruction, developing course materials and evaluating student performance.

Nurse practitioners carry out many of the same duties as nurse educators, but they focus more on patient care than teaching. As advanced-level nurses, NP’s are authorized to treat patients with routine conditions without physician referral. This means that they can perform diagnostic tests, order medications and provide other forms of treatment.

Job Requirements

Nurse educators typically need at least a master’s degree in nursing to enter the field, though some may have a doctorate. Many programs also require nurse educators to have experience working as a registered nurse (RN) before they can enroll. Some common courses for nurse educators include nursing research methods and healthcare policy.

To become a nurse practitioner, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and obtain RN licensure. Next, you’ll need to complete a Master of Science in Nursing program with a focus on your desired area of practice, such as family care or pediatrics. These programs often take two to three years to complete and include coursework on topics like pharmacology and diagnostics. You’ll also need to pass a national certification exam in your area of practice before you can begin working as a nurse practitioner.

Work Environment

Nurse educators and nurse practitioners work in different environments. Nurse educators typically work in hospitals, nursing schools or other healthcare facilities where they can provide support to nurses and students. They may also work for private companies that offer continuing education courses for nurses.

Nurse practitioners usually work in clinics, doctor’s offices or other outpatient settings. Some nurse practitioners choose to open their own practice so they can have more control over the type of patients they see and the services they provide.


Both nurse educators and nurse practitioners need to have excellent communication skills. Nurse educators typically use their communication skills when they are teaching classes, leading training sessions or writing educational materials. Nurse practitioners use their communication skills when they are interacting with patients and families, providing them with information about their health condition, medications and treatment options.

Both nurse educators and nurse practitioners need to be able to effectively manage their time. This skill is important for nurse educators because they often have to juggle multiple tasks, like preparing for classes, grading assignments and meeting with students. For nurse practitioners, time management skills are important because they need to be able to see a large number of patients in a day and still provide high-quality care.

Nurse educators need to have strong organizational skills to create cohesive lesson plans and develop curriculum. Nurse practitioners also need to be organized as they need to keep track of patients’ medical histories, test results and prescriptions. Both nurse educators and nurse practitioners need to have critical thinking skills to be able to quickly assess a situation and make the best decision for their patients.


Nurse educators can earn an average salary of $84,304 per year, while nurse practitioners can earn an average salary of $111,297 per year. The average salaries for both positions may vary depending on the state in which you work, the type of facility you work in and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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