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(NewsUSA) - The heroic efforts of frontline health care workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic merit ongoing recognition and gratitude. Nurse educators also continue to play a key role by supporting and promoting the work of nurses, who deliver everything from lifesaving emergency services to end-of-life care.

To recognize and celebrate the essential role of nursing education during the pandemic and beyond, the National League for Nursing has declared 2022 as the Year of the Nurse Educator.

Throughout the year, the League will spotlight nurse educators teaching in academic and clinical settings and showcase their contributions to innovative primary and preventive care models in underserved communities.

For example, the #BeyondANurseEducator social media campaign promotes the vital role of nursing education in advancing the nursing profession and patient care. This campaign runs through September and will include monthly recognition of nurse educators based on nominations from students and academic leadership.

The pandemic highlighted the shortage of nurses, but the key to reversing this shortage is to increase the numbers of nurse educators -- those who teach nursing students how to become nurses.

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Encouraging more nurses to consider career shifts into nursing education is the best way to ensure a consistent flow of qualified nurses into the health care system. As a result of the pandemic, many nursing education programs moved to online platforms, which expanded the options for nurses who want to pursue careers as nurse educators.

Nurses are now able to earn their master's in nursing or education online, which helps prevent loss of income from taking time off to take classes, and also reduces the need for student loans or moving to attend classes at a distant campus. Nurses can then become Certified Nurse Educators, the badge of expertise in this advanced specialty area of practice.

The demand for nurses, and therefore for nurse educators, is likely to remain high. Nurse educators are in a unique position to make an impact by inspiring nurses in training and by promoting public health through work in schools, businesses, hospitals and community agencies.

Other reasons to become a nurse educator include the intellectual stimulation of knowing the latest research in the field, greater autonomy and flexible schedules, including options for remote teaching, and the sense of purpose that comes with advancing the next generation of nurses and making a difference in the future of nursing.

For more information, visit NLN.org.