Tuesday 6 June 2017

Are you ready for more autonomy and specialization in your nursing practice? Do you enjoy working directly with patients? It may be that you’re ready to pursue an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) role.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP)

According to the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation, these roles include:

⚫ Certified Nurse  Anesthetist (CNA)
⚫ Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
⚫ Certified Nurse Specialist (CNS)
⚫ Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP)

If you’ve narrowed down your choices to CNS and CNP, how do you choose which of these roles is best for you? You’ll be investing significant time and financial resources to achieve your goal, so this is an important decision.

So how do you ensure that your career choice will be professionally fulfilling and financially rewarding in the long run?

The information below can get you started on your fact-seeking journey. Learning more about your local healthcare milieu can open your eyes to potentially new opportunities.

Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) 

Clinical nurse specialists provide an advanced level of care in hospitals and other clinical locations. They strive to improve healthcare through evidence-based practice at the individual patient and systems levels.

CNSs provide clinical expertise, leadership in nursing practice, and systems innovation in hospital, community, outpatient, and long-term care settings. Their responsibilities may also include diagnosis and treatment, health promotion, disease management, prevention, and risk reduction.

The CNS role was established more than 60 years ago. According to the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) studies show that CNS involvement results in the following:

⚫ Reduced hospital costs and length of stay
⚫ Reduced frequency of emergency room visits
⚫ Improved pain management practices
⚫ Increased patient satisfaction with nursing care
⚫ Reduced medical complications in hospitalized patients.

Required Educational Preparation and Certification for the CNS Role

Clinical nurse specialists are registered nurses with a graduate degree in nursing at the Master’s or Doctorate level.

In addition to training in their specialty area, CNSs complete advanced coursework in:

⚫ Physiology
⚫ Pharmacology
⚫ Physical assessment
⚫ CNSs also must meet the licensure/certification requirements their state requires.

CNS Clinical Practice Areas

⚫ CNS specialties are defined by
⚫ Patient population (e.g., adult/gerontology or pediatrics)
⚫ Setting (such as intensive care unit or specialty clinic)
⚫ Disease or medical subspecialty (e.g., diabetes)
⚫ Type of care (such as rehabilitation, post-partum)
⚫ Type of problem (e.g., wound care, pain)

CNS Scope of Practice

As mentioned earlier, regulations and administrative rules for nursing practice can still vary by state. CNSs can now practice independently in 28 states and prescribe independently in 19.

Visit the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) (NACNS) website to learn more about CNS scope of practice and prescriptive authority state by state. Check with your state licensing board to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

CNS Salary Potential

According to salary.com, the median annual CNS salary in January 2017 was $98,997 with a range of $89,522 to $108,428. As salaries vary considerably by region, so it’s best to research salary the actual potential in your practice area.


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