Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Career

Job Description

Clinical Nurse Specialists work in clinical or hospital settings to streamline the treatment process for patients and families. In an increasingly complex health care setting, it is important to have knowledgeable, authoritative workers in every facet of the industry.

CNSs typically specialize in one area of nursing practice. They work with patients, but also take leadership roles and try to mold the system to be more user-friendly and effective in treating patients while keeping costs down. The ability to observe and influence the nursing system from the patient level all the way up to an institutional level is crucial for CNSs.

Degree Options and Career Information

CNS programs are highly focused on teaching evidence based treatment and system implementation. Courses in research, direct clinical practice, and team leadership, as well as courses relating to a medical specialty, will comprise most of a CNS degree program. As with all nursing careers, ethical decision making is a crucial skill, and the core ethics of medical practice will be woven throughout classes and practical experience for CNSs in training. Classes also prepare students to coach new nurses and how to establish a strong working culture.

  • CNS Requirements: To practice as a CNS you must earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree and be eligible to practice as a registered nurse. Then, you must complete a Master of Science in nursing, with an emphasis in clinical practice, and become certified at the state or national level. CNSs typically get some years of experience as an RN between achieving their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
  • Work Environment: CNSs often work in a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital, usually with other nurses in different specialties to provide holistic care for patients and families. CNSs may spend long hours on their feet and be involved in various aspects of a clinic’s operations, from treating patients to managing medical data and records and developing new workflows to increase the efficiency and decrease the expenses of the facility.