The Clinical Nurse Specialist
The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is a traditional role that was created by the nursing profession to support the nurse at the bedside. This is already an advance practice type of nursing which means that the registered nurse must have an academic preparation in the graduate level and are American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certified.
Clinical nurse specialists usually practice in secondary or tertiary care settings and focus on care of individuals whom are experiencing an acute illness or an exacerbation of a chronic condition. Explore Health Careers have outlined several responsibilities carried out by a clinical nurse specialist.
Among of these includes diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries and/or disabilities within his/her field of expertise, provide direct patient care, serve as expert consultants for nursing staffs, and take an active hand in improving health care delivery systems.
The focus in this field is patient care, but through innovative evidence-based practice strategies, CNS’ also play a major role in program development related to patient and nursing practice initiatives while positively influencing the organizations and systems where they are employed. Other roles that a CNS performs include being a clinical expert in an area of nursing, consultant, collaborator, researcher, mentor, and educator.
These highly skilled practitioners are comfortable working in high-tech environments with seriously ill individuals and their families. Because of the nature of their work, they are excellent health-care educators and physician collaborators.
How You’ll Get There
Should you decide to pursue this nursing career, here’s a simple guide on how to attain the title of clinical nurse specialist. Some nursing experts strongly suggest the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program as the primary academic preparation for nurses.
After finishing the 4-year degree, you must take and pass your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and get your RN title. From here, you can now start working in the hospital as an entry-level staff position and take advantage of the clinical experiences.
Let’s say, after two years of working as a staff nurse, you can now proceed to take up Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with an emphasis on a Clinical Nurse Specialty.
This usually takes 2 to 5 years, depending on the number of credit units you are able to finish and your level of progress throughout the academic and clinical preparation. When you finish the MSN degree, you are now eligible to take the National Nurses Licensing Exam and the Certified Nurse Specialist (CNS) Certification Exam. You need to pass all of these examinations in order to become a CNS.
As Good As It Gets
Today, if you are looking for a job, one major criterion that you are looking at is the salary that you will get. Becoming a clinical nurse specialist promises a very high remuneration as the average salary for CNS roles is around $70,000 – 80,000.
This is even a rough estimate since it’s difficult to quote an average salary across all CNS roles, since pay varies according to the sub-specialty as well, but there are many positions paying up to $90,000 or more with experience.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average salary of registered nurses was nearly $69,110 annually in May 2011. By providing personal care services, clinical nurses have earned the highest annual pay of $85,940.