Clinical Nurse Specialist

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The clinical nurse specialist coordinates activities regarding patient care on a specific unit within the hospital. This is an advanced practice role and requires a Master of Science in Nursing. The setting is usually inpatient hospital, and intense. Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) assist the multidisciplinary team from admission to discharge; answer and refer questions the family might have; are involved in health teaching and support/counseling; assist in developing protocols for managing care of the client; serve as a resource person to staff nurses and other health team members; collect data and investigate trends for the program, for example, heart surgery; facilitate discharge preparation for a smooth transmission back home; and coordinate follow-up visits for the patient.

Registered nurse preparation and Master of Science in Nursing are required. Most settings require 5 years of acute care experience. Certification in various CNS roles is available from the American Association of Critical Care Nursing and American Nurses Credentialing Center.

■ Self-confidence and strong leadership skills
■ Excellent communication
■ Understanding of organizational structure
■ Technical competency involving use of complex equipment
■ Teaching skills
■ Clinical competency
■ Ability to work with interdisciplinary teams
■ Skills in staff evaluation


■ National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (
■ American Board of Nursing Specialties (
■ American Nurses Credentialing Center (
■ American Association of Critical Care Nurses (


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