Clinical Nurse Specialist: Schools and Career Opps

If there is a go-to RN specialist in the field of Nursing it has to be the nearest Clinical Nurse Specialist. An advanced practitioner, this level of RN usually has achieved expert status within his or her chosen specialty. What specialty? The nature of a CNS degree is such that nurses are prepared to serve as clinician specialists in almost any area of the healthcare field. This includes patient clinical areas, nursing research, healthcare or facility administration or management, and as an educator.

A CNS synthesizes nearly all the areas of clinical practice and most CNS RNs serve in leadership roles where they are positioned to provide guidance, education, support, evaluation and improvement of existing nursing paradigms.

Schools for CNS

The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is one of the advanced practice nursing degrees. It really is a crowning achievement for an RN committed to clinical best-practice and improved nursing paradigms.

A sample of the various types of CNS nursing school degree programs:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice CNS
  • Post-grad CNS Certificate
  • Acute Care CNS
  • Adult CNS
  • Neonatal CNS
  • Pediatric CNS
  • Psychiatric CNS

Academic CNS nursing school programs may be delivered via campus-based courses, online or distance learning environments, or a blend of both. The advantage to packaging advanced nursing degrees into online study is to allow more working RNs the opportunity to engage in flexible and convenient degree study. Schools of nursing across the country are taking measures to put as many degree programs as possible online to cast a bigger net for students at a distance and to provide for their working adult students.

CNS General Curriculum

Outside of any core MSN curriculum the following is the general CNS specialized coursework:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Advanced patient assessment/diagnosis
  • Teaching-Learning paradigms
  • Adult learning
  • Role of Advanced Practice Nurses
  • Statistics
  • Research
  • Healthcare Management
  • Pharmacology
  • Health and Disease
  • Healthcare systems and organizations
  • Clinical
  • Thesis

Expect to devote 2 years of full-time study to an MSN CNS program.

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists supports to advancement and profession of CNS professionals. CNS students may even check out the association’s scholarship programs.

Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist exams are available for degreed MSN CNSs and above. Exams are tailored to a number of CNS specialties with more to be added.

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