Advanced Nursing – Clinical Nurse Specialist

Eye-opening hospital work experience
Find out more

Clinical nurse specialists have a special set of skills and knowledge and are a part of the elite group of advanced practice nurses. Not only are they qualified to diagnose patients and provide necessary treatment, but they also serve in leadership and consulting roles. Reaching this level of nursing takes hard work and dedication, but if you have a strong interest in improving health care and also being a part of decision-making processes, a CNS career could be a great fit.

Becoming a clinical nurse specialist would be an excellent career choice for anyone who is capable of taking on a leadership role, has a knack for complex problem solving and thrives in an environment where they can care for others. One of the best parts of being a CNS is the ability to work in a specialized area of health care, such as geriatric nursing or acute care nursing.

Pre-medicine students observing surgery at Morogoro Hospital in Tanzania Job Description of a CNS

As a CNS, some of your jobs and responsibilities would include:

  • Creating treatment plans
  • Providing guidance on plans created by other providers
  • Reviewing treatment programs and making adjustments when necessary
  • Providing expertise in your specialty area
  • Creating and upholding policies, procedures and standards
  • Designing evaluation standards that can help in evaluating the quality of current programs
  • Improving services by gathering patient feedback through interviews
  • Working together with other health care professionals and providers on various medical issues, including clinical procedures
  • Supervising nurses as it relates to patient care 
  • Educating and mentoring other nurses

Training Requirements

Qualifying as a clinical nurse specialist requires considerable schooling. Plan in advance on studying hard for a an MSN degree (Master of Science in Nursing degree). With nursing being such a vast and varied field, you will need to pick a specialty to concentrate on.

The courses in an MSN program are much more advanced than those in a bachelor’s degree program, but your undergraduate curriculum will serve as a useful building block. If you have a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree in another field, you can find schools that offer accelerated programs for Bachelor of Science (BSN) and MSNs degrees. These accelerated programs give you credit for your earlier coursework, saving you time and money.

After you graduate, you will still need to obtain your certification from The American Nurses Credentialing Center before you can start working as a nurse. The ANCC certifies clinical nurse specialist who meet the eligibility requirements. Although the certification is not mandatory in all 50 states, it highly advisable to get one anyway, for two reasons – obtaining the certification serves as proof that you know your stuff and also, many employers prefer to hire a CNS who has taken the test and earned their certification.

Possible career paths for a CN

Clinical nurse specialists are multi-skilled and have the ability to work in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practice, clinics, health centers, long-term care facilities and home health service.

The main factor that will determine your career path is the specialization that you trained in. Training in a specialty such as women’s health could land you a job in a hospital maternity ward whereas training in geriatric nursing is more appropriate to a job in a long-term care facility. CNSs are also well-versed in evidence-based nursing and research jobs are another possibility.

Eye-opening hospital work experience International hospital shadowing for school and university students Find out more

You might also be interested in ...


Woo! Thanks for subscribing paperplance