Clinical Nurse Specialist


Clinical Nurse Specialist Are Problem Solving Professional Nurses
A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is one of the advanced nursing professions requiring an advanced degree and a problem solving mindset. These extremely dedicated nursing professionals are found in clinical settings, administrative roles. The clinical nurse specialist generally specializes further in a particular type of nursing.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Job Description & Scope of Practice

A clinical nurse specialist might be a teacher, an administrator, part of a research team, or a nurse leader. Therefore the job description of a clinical nurse specialist varies with the facility employing them. Due to their advanced degree and ability to think outside established procedures these nurses are usually innovators and often found in administrative or supervisory positions. Some clinical nurse specialists are employed by hospitals, HMOs, nursing schools and others serve as floor nurses. Wherever this nurse specialist is employed they generally assume a leadership role.

How to Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist

The clinical nurse specialist job requires an advanced degree. A BSN (Bachelor of Science in nursing) is required before the RN can apply to the advanced practice nursing school of their choice. The advanced degree focuses upon leadership, clinical practices, and nursing outcomes and teaches the nurse to look at standard protocols in a new way. Generally the advanced schooling for a clinical nurse specialist lasts from 2-3 years for a Master of Science to 4 years for a Doctoral degree.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing is required this degree will normally take around 4 years and include classroom as well as clinical instruction.
  • Successfully pass the state board registered nurse examination and hold a valid RN license.
  • 2000 hours (around a year full time) of clinical experience
  • Admission and successful completion of a Master’s level program (MSN)
  • Certifications as a clinical nurse specialist requires the nurse hold a MSN with a clinical focus and enrol in a CNS certificate program. Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in fields such as adult health, adult psychiatric and mental health, child adolescent psychology and mental health, diabetes management, home health, geriatric health, orthopaedics, oncology, pediatric and public health. Applicants must hold a master’s degree with emphasis on courses pertaining to their particular field and have a minimum of 500 hours supervised clinical experience. To earn the CNS credential, nurses provide documentation of qualifications and successfully pass an examination given at Computer Based Testing Centers (CBT) located across the country. Certified individuals are backed by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the organization that accredits certification. Certification is not required to work in specialty nursing fields. However, certification validates skills, knowledge and abilities.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Salary and Career Outlook

The clinical nurse specialist has a variety of career opportunities. Their advanced degree qualifies them for administrative as well as clinical roles. Clinical nurse specialist salaries vary greatly depending upon their employment setting. Nationwide however this highly trained professional can expect to see salaries of above $60,000 starting out. Seasoned nurse specialists are often found in high level administrative positions and exceed the average nursing salary.

Job growth for nurses is predicted to exceed 21% through the year 2018, according to the BSL. Clinical nurse specialists may experience an even higher job growth rate as hospitals and insurance providers turn to these professionals for new means to deliver high quality health care and still maintain cost efficiency. The clinical nurse specialist has an exceedingly bright future ahead no matter which job they choose, teaching, clinical practice, research, health provision or leadership roles in care delivery settings.

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