Who is Specialist Nurse?
As a registered nurse, you may wish to only specialize in the care and treatment of only one subset of patients in the healthcare field. By so doing, you receive special training on nursing concepts pertaining to that group of patients. Upon graduation, you will receive a new title under the Advanced Practice Registered Nurses bracket (APRN) and be referred to as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).
Clinical Nurse Specialist Training Courses
A clinical nurse specialist is a health care professional who have practiced as a RN but has advanced their level of expertise in one field by taking a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). CNS training equips a RN with vast and in depth skills on one particular topic of their choice, enabling them to undertake roles in that particular field of choice.
The training ladder of a CNS starts with enrollment for a MSN degree in either an online program or a traditional classroom setting. The courses taught at this point are meant to hone your skills to perfection. The training revolves around research methods, teaching skills and specialized subjects. Generally, a typical specialist nurse training program will have courses from the likes of:
Theory and Practice in Your Area of Specialization
In depth training is offered for the particular area of specialty. CNS trainees are trained on common demographics and trends relevant to their areas of specialization. Specialist nurses are taught to formulate and test nursing theories using practical approaches.
Pharmacology in Advanced Practice
Courses in this bracket equip the CNS with advanced knowledge on pharmacological principles pertaining to their area of specialty. This is usually advancement on prior pharmacological lessons. The difference between the pharmacological courses at this level and that of RNs is that, they target only the subset of patient population to be handled.
Instructional Theory and Teaching Methods
These courses are meant for Clinical nurse specialists who wish to become tutors in their niche. Here, CNSs are trained on how to develop an already formulated curriculum and how to implement it. Other aspects of efficient curriculum delivery and instructional methods are also taught. In addition, student nurses who wish to take this route must undertake a supervised teaching practice session to access their ability to deliver to a classroom setting.
Here, nurse specialist trainees receive concepts of conflict resolution in the health care arena. They are taught how to choose the most ethical and appropriate decision making models depending on the health dilemma at hand. Specialist nurses are also trained to be their first patients’ advocates when the situation deems necessary.
Advanced Concepts of Integrated Healthcare
This equips aspiring clinical specialist nurses with concepts spanning the whole medical practice. These integrated medical courses are meant to emphasize collaboration between all disciplines of health care. They include general courses on vulnerable groups, community and public health, occupational health and hospital based patient care.
Research Methods in Nursing
Research is part and parcel of clinical nurse specialist and as such, they must be trained on data collection techniques, quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods, design and formulation of research hypothesis among other clinical research methods.
Clinical practical lessons
This is the ultimate test of gauging whether what is trained is put into correct implementation. Practical clinical sessions allow specialist nursing students to have the real-world-patient contact.
Different Areas of Specialty Choices for CNSs
- Pediatric nurses
- Occupational health nurses
- Gerontology/ Geriatrics nurses
- Psychiatry/ Mental health nursing
- Perioperative/ OR nurses
- Anesthetic nurses
- Holistic nurses
- Cardiac nurses
Certification of Clinical Nurse Specialists
Upon successful completion of the respective specialist nurse training programs, students are expected to pass a credentialing exam in order to get certification. The certification exam differs from state to state but the concept is the same. It is worth noting that regardless of which state you are in, all CNS must renew their certification and credentials every five years to be allowed to continue practicing.