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What Is A Clinical Nurse Specialist? How To Become A CNS?: Complete Guide

Clinical Nurse Specialist: This (given below) quote beautifully describes the sheer compassion of nurses to help patients get back to health with care & support. Nurses are considered the backbone of the healthcare system. Like every profession, nursing also requires leaders to ensure the best services for the patients & the industry. Clinical nurse specialists are those leading faces, responsible to influence initiatives to promote safe nursing practices.

“Every nurse was drawn to nursing because of a desire to care, to serve, or to help.”

–         Christina Feist-Heilmeier, RN

Many nursing aspirants who desire to bring an impact to the healthcare profession opt for a CNS degree. In this post, we’ll be discussing what is a clinical nurse specialist & their responsibilities. Besides, get ready to explore how to become a CNS and have a successful future.

Must Read: Best Nursing Research Topics in 2022

What Is A Clinical Nurse Specialist?

A clinical nurse specialist is an advanced practice nurse. These registered nurses possess a doctoral or master’s degree in nursing. Besides, they are certified as a clinical nurse specialist from the authorized national certified bodies, for instance, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

These nurses implement their skills to analyze, diagnose & treat patients. However, their role is not limited to conventional nursing responsibilities. In fact, it extends to the prevention & resolution of a patient’s illness, & research.

The primary objective of a CNS is to make top-grade, yet affordable specialty care accessible to patients. Clinical nurse specialists are found in a diverse range of fields, such as:

  • Critical care
  • Emergency room services
  • Geriatrics
  • Pediatrics
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Oncology
  • Wound care
  • Pain management
  • Women’s health

Students pursuing a course in these fields struggle with the tricky concepts. Further, the regular clinical practices as a part of their curriculum consume all their time. As a result, they experience enormous pressure & stress, and a fear of failure.

Thus, nursing assignment help services are a great way to tackle this problem and pass with flying colors. You can easily hire a legit nursing specialist from online platforms and get the tough job done within the deadline.

What Does A Clinical Nurse Specialist Exactly Do?

In simple words, a clinical nurse specialist is a clinician who has acquired advanced education. Besides, these nurses have been trained in a special area of nursing.

In the healthcare industry, a CNS has many roles to play. Let’s take a glance at some of the responsibilities they manage:

  • Examination of patients & diagnosis of illness
  • Promoting wellness
  • Treating diseases in their area of specialization
  • Conducting extensive research as per their field of expertise
  • Educate nurses, and mentor them
  • Order treatment & medical tests
  • Collect data from patients & medical records to refine health care services
  • Supervise or manage ancillary & nursing staff
  • Planning assessment strategies to evaluate the quality & effectiveness of different education & patient care programs

Here are the four key roles of a clinical nurse specialist:

What Are The Focus Areas of A Clinical Nurse Specialist?

 clinical nurse specialist can opt for any of the five specialties, based on:

  • Setting (for instance: emergency room, health centers, or critical care)
  • Population (for example geriatrics, oncology, pediatrics, neonatal)
  • Type of care (such as rehabilitation, public health, or psychiatric)
  • Disease or medical sub-specialty (for example diabetes, pain management, orthopedics, neurology)
  • Type of problem (for instance: wound care, stress, and pain)

These expert nurses usually take up management roles, and sometimes even work with teams to construct procedures & policies. Moreover, they contribute majorly to bringing changes in the practices within an organizational setup.

How to Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

Anyone who wishes to be a CNS must have received prior education and should possess a bachelor’s degree & clinical practice experience. These are the basic criteria for acceptance into a program such as MSN (Master’s program in nursing), or DSN (Doctoral degree program).

By now you know what a clinical nurse specialist is, here’s a step-by-step process to become one.

Step #1: One needs to acquire the status of a registered nurse. The minimum eligibility requirement to apply for a CNS program is a degree in registered nursing. Besides, a certification as a registered nurse in any state or territory of the U.S. is also necessary.

Step #2: Students should apply to programs authorized by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. It should be either a master’s, doctoral, or PG program.

Step #3: Successful completion of 500-clinical hours under the supervision of the faculty. It could be related to the role of a clinical nurse specialist & population.

Step #4: Next, students must apply for the tests as per their specialty. The exam should be administered by the ANCC, for certification in CNS. They are meant to assess an applicant’s skills & knowledge.

Step #5: Then decide your preferred state for practice, and apply for the state CNS certification.

Step #6: After you receive your clinical nurse specialist certificate, it requires renewal every five years. The renewal needs to be approved by both, the board & the state. Further, additional approval to continue education contact hours may also be required.

Related Topics: Significance of Professionalism in Nursing

What Are The Basic Requirements To Practice As A CNS In My State?

The state licensing boards issue state laws & administrative rules. Hence, they are different for every state. Thus, one must consult with their state licensing board to gather specific details.

The NACNS, came forwards in 2015 to collaborate with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. They gathered data on state laws regarding the authority & independent practice of the clinical nurse specialist.

How Does A Clinical Nurse Specialist Differ From A Nurse Practitioner?

People often confuse CNS with nurses. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), and a Nurse Practitioner (NP).

Nurse practitioners are the frontline warriors. They offer healthcare services to a definite population of patients, in both primary & acute care settings.

Whereas, a clinical nurse specialist majorly handles the back-end position. They evaluate the whole process of care, & optimize it to ensure the best results.

Regardless of some distinctiveness, the primary mission remains the same. Both nurses & clinical nurse specialists work towards achieving improved health outcomes in care, by assessing the status of a patient’s health. They are responsible for creating effective patient care strategies & reinforcing positive changes.

Also Read: Fundamentals of Nursing

Maya Angelou once said:

“As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart, and body of our patients, their families, and ourselves. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Wrapping Up

As clinical nurse specialists, one can transform the patient care & treatment conditions within an organization. The field experts work in administrative positions and are the backbone of the health care systems. Moreover, they devise relevant plans to accommodate the present-day & future requirements.

There’s a high demand for CNSs. We’ve shared details on the roles & responsibilities of a clinical nurse specialist, and how they differ from registered nurses.

We hope you found this blog helpful!

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