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Clinical Nurse Specialist

The role of Clinical Nurse Specialists

As nurses’ roles evolved throughout the years, many functions have been habituated to them.

A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), a form of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), provide consultations and treatment management chiefly to a specific patient category. However, they can also provide management to other patients in general.

Also, CNS is a proof that nursing is not only confined to bedside care. They contribute a vital part in improving practices and the overall health care system. Further, CNS utilize research and provides mentorship to colleagues.


A clinical nurse specialist act as a consultant, clinical expert, researcher, manager and educator.

The CNS harmonize and coordinate these roles in order to provide the best care possible that is affordable, appropriate and cost-effective.

Roles and responsibilities encompass a complex range which depends on their specialization. However, they may also do consultation and treatment to a variety of clients.

In general, a CNS:

  • Provide competent, holistic care.
  • Perform wellness assessment and evaluation.
  • Treat medical conditions and provide other care interventions.
  • Educate the patient and families regarding self-care and management of health condition.
  • Evaluate overall patient care.
  • Participate and conduct researches.
  • Apply research findings and theories to improve patient care outcomes.
  • Supervise and mentor fellow nurses.
  • Evaluate current practices.
  • Develop treatment alternatives and specialized treatment plans.


The basic requisite to be a CNS is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Further, the BSN should pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Also, the RN should obtain an advanced education such as Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctorate degree.

Most states require a minimum work experience and an accreditation as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The ANCC certification is valid in all states.


According to reported that clinical nurse specialists earn a median wage of $81,952 as of year 2016.

On the other hand, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job expectancy for registered nurses, Clinical Nurse Specialists included, are expected to have a 16% increase until year 2024.

In fact, the growth is much faster than average as compared with other jobs and professions.


The American Nurses Credentialing Center certifies 7 specializations that is under the umbrella of Clinical Nurse Specialist:

  • PEDIATRIC – care for infants and children with acute and chronic conditions as well as their families and caregivers.
  • CHILD/ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH – care and treatment of acute and chronic mental health conditions in the pediatric population.
  • ADULT HEALTH – care of acute and chronic conditions in the adult population.
  • ADULT MENTAL HEALTH –: care and treatment of acute and chronic mental health conditions in the adult population.
  • GERONTOLOGY – focus on the specific needs in long-term care of older adults, including treatment of both acute and chronic conditions.
  • HOME HEALTH – care for chronically ill persons of all ages in the home health setting.
  • COMMUNITY/PUBLIC HEALTH – care within vulnerable populations and communities.

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