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Careers in Education

Exploring roles within the education arm of nursing

If you're passionate about learning, enjoy sharing your expertise, or like the idea of supporting others to meet their goals,  you may want to consider a role within education or the facilitation of learning and development.

This career path offers a chance to inspire others, and the opportunity to improve patient care by educating and mentoring the next generation of healthcare professionals.

This page has advice and resources about different possible roles within healthcare education, and how to move forward if you're interested in this type of career.

Considering a role within Education? 

If you're passionate about learning, enjoy sharing your expertise, or like the idea of developing others, you may want to consider a role within nurse education or the facilitation of learning and development. 

You could be working in the hospital setting, Higher Education Institutes (HEI) like universities or colleges, private healthcare, health related organisations, or training companies.

The RCN Careers Pathways Resource

The RCN Career Pathways Resource has information, advice and resources for nurses who are thinking about a career in education. This includes case studies such as:

  • Nurse to educational role within practice
  • Nurse to university lecturer

If you are a Nursing Support Worker, see the Education section within the resource, which includes a Health Care Support Worker to Training Lead case study.

Examples of roles within education or learning and development

  • Practice Development Nurse
  • Clinical Educator / Nurse Educator
  • Trainer
  • Clinical Lead
  • Nursing Degree Apprenticeship Assessor
  • Simulation and Clinical Skills Trainer
  • Nurse Consultant with a focus on Education and Practice Development
  • E-Learning and Digital Nursing Education Developer
  • Nurse Education Policy Advisor
  • Nurse Lecturer (University)
  • Nursing Tutor (Further Education Colleges)
  • Dean of Faculty

  • Practice Educator / Clinical Practice Educator
  • Practice Development Nurse
  • Practice Education Facilitator / Practice Learning Facilitator 
  • Clinical Educator / Nurse Educator
  • Associate Educator
  • Clinical Trainer
  • Clinical Lead
  • Practice Development Lead
  • Nursing Degree Apprenticeship Assessor
  • Training Lead in General Practice
  • Simulation and Clinical Skills Trainer
  • Clinical skills trainer for healthcare support workers
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Nurse Trainer
  • Nurse Consultant with a focus on Education and Practice Development
  • E-Learning and Digital Nursing Education Developer
  • Nurse Education Policy Advisor
  • Nurse Lecturer (University)
  • Nursing Tutor (Further Education Colleges)
  • Senior or Principal Lecturer
  • Dean of Faculty
  • Nursing Research Fellow in academic institutions

  • Nursing schools, colleges or universities: Working as lecturers or educators within schools, colleges or universities, these roles involve teaching theoretical knowledge, research skills, and practical competencies to students.
  • Clinical Practice Education: Working as Clinical Educators or Practice Educators within hospitals or community health settings. They are responsible for the education, training, and development of nursing staff and/or students on clinical placements. This could include delivering clinical skills training, facilitating learning in practice, or assessing competencies.
  • Apprenticeship and Trainee Programs: With the expansion of nursing apprenticeships and trainee nurse associate roles in the UK, there are opportunities for nurses to work as educators and mentors within these programmes. They guide and support learners through their on-the-job training, helping them to integrate theoretical learning with clinical practice.
  • Professional Development and Continuing Education: Healthcare organisations may have dedicated roles for nurses who specialise in professional development. These nurses design, implement, and evaluate continuing education programs for practicing nurses, ensuring that the workforce remains up-to-date with the latest evidence-based practices and regulatory requirements.
  • Online Education and E-Learning: With the growth of digital learning platforms, healthcare professionals can contribute to the development and delivery of online nursing education courses. This can include creating and reviewing content, designing learning resources for patients or professionals, moderating forums, or providing support and feedback to learners remotely.
  • Healthcare Companies: Working for pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, or other healthcare-related companies as educators. This can include providing education and training to healthcare professionals and/or patients on products, devices, disease awareness, medication, or health promotion.
  • Organisations that focus on health, development, regulation or humanitarian aid. These roles can involve developing and implementing health related campaigns, conducting community education sessions, or working on health policy development. Examples of government organisations are the NHS, Public Health England (or equivalent), the Department of Health & Social Care, or Health Education England (HEE), etc. Examples of NGOs could include the RCN, Marie Stopes, MacMillan, Diabetes UK, Alzheimer's Society, etc. Examples of Regulatory bodies include the NMC, Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or the CQC.
  • Research and Development: Working in academic or clinical research settings, focusing on educational research to improve teaching methods, learning outcomes, or patient education strategies.

Mentors and sign-off mentors were replaced by Practice Supervisors, Practice Assessors and Academic Assessors, and you may find this could be a good place to start your career in education or learning and development. You can read more about this on the RCN's page Practice Based Learning.

If you're interested in mentoring:

  • Familiarise yourself with the specifics of the Practice Supervisor role, including responsibilities and expectations. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) provides detailed standards and guidance.
  • Express your interest to your line manager or the education lead within your organisation.
  • Aim to enhance your communication and feedback skills, as these are crucial for supporting students effectively.
  • RCN members can borrow books and ebooks from the RCN library, as well as browse hundreds of journals on the subject. See their subject guide on Practice Based Learning to browse the journals and books on mentoring and supervising.
  • See the RCNi resources on mentorship

If you're interested in education, training or learning and development roles...

  • Join the RCN's Education Forum and the RCN Education Forum Facebook group so that you can speak to other RCN members working in education.
  • Express an interest to your manager about coaching, training, teaching, or supporting colleagues and students. Make sure this goal in documented in your 121s and appraisals.
  • Put yourself forward for opportunities such as being involved with inductions, acting as a buddy to new starters, designing training material, or project work around learning and development.
  • Become an educational link, develop communication strategies in area, develop learning tools for area.
  • Ask your employer for information about becoming a practice supervisor or practice assessor within your workplace, or discuss support for gaining a mentoring or teaching qualification.
  • Consider becoming an RCN Learning rep.
  • Use your contacts, colleagues, etc. to get in touch with nurses working in education or training roles. Ask them if you can take their contact details for future reference.
  • Shadow other nurses in educative roles. This could be through your networking, informal visits or through your current employer.
  • Do your research and study job vacancies within the education field. What experience, qualifications or skills are employers looking for?
  • See if your employer offers career mentoring/coaching, or has any career frameworks. 
  • Speak to universities regarding your learning goals, and to discuss routes, qualifications or prospects. For example you may want to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Education (PGCHE). 

RCN Career Coaching

RCN members can have up to three telephone Career Coaching sessions as part of their membership.

If you want to explore the reasons behind wanting to change careers, explore whether a career in education could be a good fit for you based on your values, strengths and priorities, feel stuck or unable to move forward, or want help creating an action plan, take a look at our career coaching page.


Regional Education Networks within the RCN

Become a Learning Rep

Would you like to support the learning and development of your fellow RCN members in the workplace? 

RCN Education forum

Get involved and join the RCN's Education Forum. It has its own closed Facebook group where you can speak to other RCN members working in this field.

Mentoring resources

We've got lots of  resources including frameworks, standards, publications, guides and more.

A nurse manager holding a folder talking with a doctor and another senior nurse at a nursing station

Leadership roles

  • Are you good at making decisions and planning?
  • Do you often find yourself taking charge or leading in situations?
  • Do you enjoy supporting and motivating colleagues?
  • Do you consider yourself a good role model?
  • Do you mind having less direct contact with patients?
surgical nurse viewing a computer screen

Clinical roles

  • Is working closely with patients important to you?
  • Would you like to expand your clinical skills or knowledge?
  • Would you like more scope when caring for patients and/or
  • Are you interested in a particular clinical area or patient group?
Research nurse working in a lab, looking into a medical telescope

Research & innovation roles

  • Would you like to use knowledge and innovation to transform care?
  • Have you got strong verbal and written communication skills?
  • Would you like to improve patient care or patient experience?
  • Do you have good organisational skills with an eye for detail?
  • Do enjoy working with data and technology?
Female nurse at laptop working from home

Work-life balance

  • Is having a work-life balance a top priority for you?
  • Do you need to put yourself or your family before your career?
  • Is having a job with flexibility or core hours a priority for you?
  • Or do you need to put your mental/physical health first?