Top Level Nursing Leadership is Often Populated with Clinical Nurse Specialists

Specialized Advanced Practice Nurse Degrees

The title of Clinical Nurse Specialist indicates a larger group of advance degreed, advance practice nurses that work within more granular healthcare specialties, including geriatrics, child and family health, cardiac care, and women’s health, to name a few. CNSs are akin to case managers in that they may see their own patients, assess health issues, diagnose and develop a treatment and care plan. Their work environment is variable and their roles in the larger scheme of nursing, critical.

Cost-Effective Patient Care

The evolution of Clinical Nurse Specialists may be a boon for the healthcare industry. Physicians constitute high-dollar human resources, while CNSs work for much less, but are able to package and deliver so many of the same clinical abilities. In many CNS programs the term “cost-effective” patient care is a key to the role of a CNS.

Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Highly Evolved Nursing Practice

Nurses in advanced practice specialties are uniquely situated to forge their own patient care practices under the guidance of a physician. This kind of empowerment is key to the development of nursing as a whole and the understanding of the field’s importance to healthcare. Often it’s the physicians that get the pat on the back for patient care, but nurses are omnipresent, often key to communicating decline or improvement in patient condition. CNSs combine all the qualities of a nurse, from theory through to advanced research, and long-term care management. But they also take into account the administrative strata of a hospital or clinic and combine advanced nursing practice with appropriate business sense. This is nursing taken to its highest clinical level.

Degree Requirements

A CNS is one of four types of Advanced Practice Nursing specialties that include: Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Anesthetist. APNs are required to complete at least an additional two years of degree work that earns them a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN).

The general curriculum followed by CNS candidates focuses on imparting the know-how necessary to work within what has been called “the three spheres of influence”:

  • Work with patients;
  • Work with other caregivers and medical personnel;
  • Work within administrative circles to evaluate nursing and overall patient care paradigms.

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists publishes a comprehensive list of CNS programs and specialties currently offered in the U.S. For further professional information on the practice and influence of CNSs, contact the NACNS.

Work Environments

Given the wide range of specialties in which CNSs may focus, it is no big surprise that their work settings may be just as varied. CNSs may go to work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing and long-term care homes, mental health and psychiatric institutions, hospice organizations, community health clinics, and in positions that impact public school health nursing.

Nurses interested in achieving a pinnacle in their career may be well suited to a CNS career. In the future, skyrocketing healthcare costs will make specialists like these a commodity.


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