What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

toolsWhat is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?



Educators first developed the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) role because of their concern for improving nursing care. They believed that improvement was dependent upon increasing expertise at the bedside, giving direct and indirect care, and incorporating role modeling and consultation


The role of a CNS has evolved to include many specialties particularly in psychiatric care. The impressive development of this masteral program helped to initiate the other CNS specialty courses. Thus, clinical specialization in graduate education increased tremendously. Graduates would provide a high level of specialized nursing care and serve as change agents in hospital settings.

A good portion of time is spent in the hospital, in both staff and patient/family education. A clinical nurse specialist is also into developing protocols, standards and pathways that will guide nursing practice. A CNS also serves as a direct care provider, educator/consultant, researcher and leader. Areas of focus can encompass adult, pediatric and obstetric patients. Different medical departments like oncology, the cardiopulmonary system, the pulmonary system and others are also included.

What are the competencies attributed to a CNS?

• In-depth knowledge expertise
• Demonstrating clinical expertise in a selected area of clinical practice.
• Can be emulated by others professionally and personally.
• Serving as practitioner/teacher, consultant and researcher.

The past years had seen the influx of the greatest percentage of APNs as clinical nurse specialists. In order to achieve this specialization, one should prepare for a graduate nursing education program. This is primarily hospital based and can be consultative in nature.

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