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Patient Educator Career


What is a Patient Educator?


A patient educator works with treatment providers and patients to coordinate treatment programs and address questions from patients and their families. As a patient educator, you will represent a patient’s needs—and any of their concerns—during and after treatment plans are implemented.

Patient educators are also commonly known as “health educators,” though the responsibilities remain the same regardless of job title.

In some healthcare organizations, patient educators might also be registered nurses. Other patient educators can employ individuals solely in a patient education capacity. Typically, patient educators have at least an undergraduate degree, along with at least a few years of experience in a patient education capacity. Some patient educator positions require one or more certifications.


What Does a Patient Educator Do?

The responsibilities of a patient educator can vary widely. On some days, you might spend time communicating directly with patients, informing their understanding of all treatment types. On other days, you might implement those same treatment modalities to improve patient outcomes. The exact responsibilities of a patient educator can include:

  • Educating patients regarding upcoming treatments, procedures, and expected outcomes.
  • Developing treatment plans that address a patient’s needs.
  • Implementing treatment modalities that can help guide patients to recovery.
  • Communicating with other care providers to familiarize them with a patient’s needs, preferences, and concerns.
  • Corresponding with patient families to provide updates on a patient’s treatment or recovery path.
  • Collaborating with patient care providers to provide high-quality patient care, especially during more complicated procedures.
  • Tracking a patient’s continual reactions to treatment.

These and other responsibilities keep patient educators busy on a day-to-day basis as they communicate with and provide treatment to patients.


How Do I Become a Patient Educator?

To become a patient care coordinator, you’ll likely need to obtain a bachelor's degree in health and human services, health science or a related area of study. Care coordinators benefit greatly from practical experience in clinical settings, as well as an understanding of the business considerations of healthcare. Still, it’s important to emphasize that education needs largely depend on each employer’s requirements.

With these details in mind, 32.1% of patient care coordinators have a bachelor's degree, while 9.3% have master's degrees. Each of these programs helps students learn about medical coding, finance, office procedures, and transcription to prepare for their job as a patient care coordinator.

Best Degrees for a Patient Educator

Health & Nursing

Health and Human Services – B.S.

An online health degree program for students who are committed to making a...

An online health degree program for students who are committed to making a difference for patients in a variety of ways.

  • Time: 63% of students finish this program in 24 months
  • Tuition: $4,085 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 35 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Epidemiology
  • Community and Public Health
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Pathophysiology
  • Healthcare Values and Ethics
  • Substance Abuse Support

This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also directly working with patients who need help.

Health & Nursing

Health Science – B.S.

An online health science program designed for students who want real-world...

An online health science program designed for students who want real-world skills for valuable health careers.

  • Time: 63% of students finish similar programs in 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,085 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 28 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Epidemiology
  • Disease prevention
  • Behavioral health
  • Substance abuse support
  • Health research
  • Medical technology

This degree prepares you with relevant industry skills and experience that will help you move forward in your healthcare career.

How Much Does a Patient Educator Make?


The exact income of a patient educator can vary based on several different influences. These factors include your employer, employer’s location, employer’s public or private funding, years of experience, education, and active certifications. The salary of a patient educator can average $50,833 per year.

What is the Projected Job Growth?


The job outlook for patient educators is expected to remain positive over the next decade. From 2022 to 2032, employment for health education specialists is projected to grow by 7%. This forecasted growth rate is much faster than the average across all occupations.


What Skills Does a Patient Educator Need?

Patient educators implement a variety of skills in their healthcare environment. Their well-developed skill sets help them communicate with patients, implement treatment plans, and gauge how well they respond to individual treatment modalities. The individual skills that a patient educator needs can include:

  • Patient education. The ability to answer patient questions, address patient concerns, and familiarize patients with details on upcoming treatment modalities.
  • Patient treatment. The ability to implement effective treatment modalities, in tandem with other patient care providers, to improve patient outcomes.
  • Interpersonal communication. The ability to communicate with nurses, doctors, and other patient care providers to inform them of a patient’s needs and preferences.
  • Technological proficiency. The ability to correctly use all necessary pieces of healthcare technology, including any medical devices, online platforms, and databases.
  • Empathy. The ability to share a patient’s feelings toward their circumstances, and then implement strategies that help patients remain comfortable and anxiety-free while receiving care.

These and other skills allow patient educators to enjoy success each day in a healthcare environment while communicating with patients and implementing specific treatment strategies.

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming a Patient Educator?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.