Individuals seeking to pursue advanced careers in nursing may inquire about a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) job description. A CNS is an advanced practice nurse who has expertise in a specialized subject in nursing, such as a certain setting, patient population, medical condition, or type of care. He or she provides evidence-based advanced nursing care to patients, conducts research, manages other health care workers, and provides consultation services in various health care areas.
A clinical nurse specialist works in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, and medical offices. He or she is an expert in a certain area, such as cardiovascular health, pediatrics, orthopedics, or public policy. A CNS spends a lot of time assisting patients in preventing or treating various types of medical conditions. He or she helps develop care plans and educates patients and families on how to best manage medical conditions. Many CNSs are in charge of specific nursing departments and they manage a variety of staff members, such as nursing assistants and registered nurses. These managers lead the staff in education and commonly work to improve the process of patient care. Other CNSs are involved in the development of policies and they evaluate current practices and provide recommendations for better patient care.
The majority of individuals in this profession have first attended nursing school and earned their bachelor’s degree in nursing and then obtained state licensure as a registered nurse. Majority of CNS education programs require candidates to also gain at least one to two years of experience working as an RN in a clinical setting. A master’s degree in nursing or post-master’s certificate in a certain nursing practice specialty is then required to become a CNS. The programs typically take two to three years to finish, depending on the type of specialty. Individuals in this degree program generally develop advanced practice nursing abilities, such as in-depth assessment of patients, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and advanced practices in their chosen specialty. Extensive supervised clinical experience is also a component of the programs. Many states offer licensing for CNSs. Additionally, CNSs can acquire professional certification from the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists or other certifications from various specialty boards. Most certifications require individuals to complete an advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher learning, complete a minimum number of hours of clinical experience in their specialty, and receiving a passing score on a certification examination.
Salary and Job Outlook
As stated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for all nurses is projected to rise 19 percent by the year 2022, a much higher rate than all occupations. The bureau also states that CNSs will be in keen demand. The median salary for this profession is around $96,000 annually, with the top 10 percent earning above $112,000 and the lowest 10 percent making below $79,000.
CNSs are vital members of the health care field to ensure quality patient care and effective operation of a variety of health care facilities. A clinical nurse specialist is a great option for those wanting to work at an advanced level of nursing to make a difference in the lives health care workers, patients, families, and the community.