What's in a salary?

At some time or another we have all thought, “I wish I could earn more money”.  That may prompt you to consider ways to further your expertise in the way of education, taking on more responsibilities at work, or maybe even a career change.  One thing is for sure, at the end of the day the money isn’t all that is a part of your salary.  The other ingredients that make up the value of a salary are happiness, satisfaction, and contentment.   

Isn’t there more to who you are than a numerical figure? Do you crave to have more meaning to what you do day in and day out than just the almighty dollar? A passion for helping others is basically ingrained in who we are as nurses.  We help patients who have experienced traumatic injuries. We help care for patients after surgery and even help them rehab back to normal daily functions.  We support them in whatever way they might need, physically or emotionally.  Coincidentally, nurse educators do the same thing! We maintain many of the same roles as the bedside nurse.  Advocate, supporter, comforter, encourager, and educator.  But now instead of taking care of someone in a bed, we are taking care of someone in a classroom. The pure joy that I feel when I get to see one of my student’s accomplish something is exhilarating. Watching them have that “aha” moment is absolutely priceless 

Nurse educators don’t just receive their paycheck in their bank account, they take payment in their heart too.  The truth is the average salary for a nurse educator today can be less than you can earn as a bedside nurse. Especially when you factor in all the hours of work you do before and after the class. But the payoff of being an educator does not come from a paycheck alone. It comes from the interactions had with students.  It comes from teaching them about being a nurse and showing them what the role is all about.  It’s about taking them by the hand, and the heart, and demonstrating to them how to show compassion to a dying patient.  The fulfillment from those things is worth far more than the weight of money. 

Throughout the pandemic I have seen and heard from former students, now practicing nurses, across the United States. What joy it brings my heart to know I have touched so many lives and to think of all the sick people they are taking care of during this unprecedented time. What drives you to get up in the morning? Is it the wonder of who you might teach and, in turn, help them achieve their educational goals?  One life you touch can reach a thousand more.  What important components make up your salary besides financial income? 

Are you interested in impacting the lives of future nurses by becoming a nurse educator? Learn more about earning your online Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator degree from Walsh University.

About the Author


My name is Colleen Wiley and I am a nurse educator. Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher, but I also had an interest in learning about science. I have always loved helping people which is why I chose to pursue a career in nursing. I spent my time in undergraduate nursing school working as a nurse intern on a medical surgical unit. After graduation in 2005, I worked at the bedside caring for post-operative patients and I loved it! Eventually, I started offering to train new employees and I would also take on nursing students for their clinical preceptorship. It was then that I truly realized my real passion was seeded in becoming a nurse educator! I started working as an adjunct clinical instructor in 2010 and immediately knew this was the path for me. A fire was lit inside of me! That burning feeling of helping others was reignited as I shifted my focus from helping sick and/or recovering patients in the acute setting to helping students learn how to become a nurse. I pursued a graduate degree in nursing education which I earned in December of 2014. I have been working as a nurse educator ever since I took that first leap back in 2010.

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