What Is the Role of a Clinical Nurse Specialist?


Clinical practice, research, teaching, consulting, and administration are the five primary activities that fall within the purview of a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), who is essentially a one-person show. A clinical nurse specialist position is essential to the managed care movement since the healthcare industry does not follow a uniform set of rules.

It is a CNS’s responsibility to coordinate cost-effective services and resources to maintain the highest level of patient care.

The clinical nurse specialist job may be ideal for you if you enjoy working with people, have a flair for solving complicated problems, and are capable of taking on leadership responsibilities. The opportunity to work in a niche healthcare field, such as geriatric nursing or acute care nursing, is one of the most remarkable things about becoming a CNS.

According to Kenny Kadar, president of Coast Medical Service, a nurse staffing company based in Los Angeles, “as leaders, educators, and innovators of evidence-based nursing practices, Being a Certified Nursing Specialist is a fulfilling job for those who want to make a difference in the lives of patients and in the nursing industry as a whole.

What Kind of Work Will a CNS Do?

As a CNS, you might do a wide range of tasks. Your job will significantly influence your workplace, speciality, and other things. No matter where you work, you’ll be expected to do more complex tasks in your clinical nursing and nursing leadership roles.

Clinical nurse specialists’ employment duties might vary based on their area of expertise, but typical responsibilities include

  • Improving patient care through collaborating with nursing colleagues. This includes assessing present procedures, looking at potential alternatives, speaking with patient care managers, and training employees.
  • Creating customized treatment regimens following patient evaluations.
  • Informing patients and their families about the most effective ways to treat their problems; Including practices to foster staff collaboration
  • Examining patient data and results
  • Collaborating with colleagues on new research

At Duquesne School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Manjulata Evatt, DNP, RN, CMSRN, associate professor and program coordinator, discusses an intriguing—and significant—a policy that a graduate-level CNS and colleague are striving to enact in her community. The co-worker, a nurse with the local coroner’s office, is collaborating with the police and law enforcement to make it a requirement that the names of next of kin be recorded on driver’s licenses so that families may be alerted more quickly and efficiently when a loved one has passed away.

Clinical nurse specialists frequently participate in developing important workplace and community policies.

That’s a far cry from bedside nursing, but it’s only one illustration of the profound changes a CNS may bring about in a hospital or community.

What Are Career Paths Available for CNSs?

Clinical nurse specialists operate in various settings because they have received specialized training in the nursing sector. The specialty you choose will also affect your professional path. While a women’s health specialty may help you get employment in a clinic or hospital maternity ward, a degree in geriatric nursing may land you in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

It’s feasible that you may pick a career where mentoring is a significant portion of your obligations because CNS programs prepare students to be educators in addition to their other responsibilities. Because CNSs are also knowledgeable in evidence-based nursing, research positions are available. See a few specific positions listed below.

Gerontology clinical nurse specialist in employment

  • Your workplace: hospitals, nursing homes, and private practice
  • Work you’ll be doing: Older adults should be evaluated and treated, should keep hospital stays to a minimum, and should policies be developed to enhance patient outcomes and safety.

Clinical nurse specialist for adults

Your workplace: healthcare systems, private practices, and hospitals

Work you’ll be doing: Patients are assessed, treatment plans are made, patient care is overseen, new nurses are mentored, and new patient care initiatives are implemented.

  • Specialist neonatal clinical nurse
  • You’ll work at hospitals.
  • Work you’ll be doing:
  • Evaluate and treat babies who require neonatal care.
  • Instruct parents and families.
  • Seek to improve care outcomes in your unit.

Specialist clinical nurse in public health

Your workplace:

Hospitals and neighborhood health clinics

Work you’ll be doing:

Create policies that promote community health, educational campaigns, run health clinics and resource fairs, and research ways to enhance community health.

Clinical nurse specialist in psychiatry

Specialty hospitals, mental health centers, and private offices are the places you’ll work.

Work you’ll be doing:

Assess and treat patients with mental health disorders, monitor patient care, develop care plans, mentor other nurses, and help in developing policies to enhance patient outcomes

What a Clinical Nurse Specialist Does All Day

Your daily schedule as a CNS will be influenced by various factors, including your workplace and specialty. However, have a look at this sample itinerary to get a sense of what a weekday can entail:

Review admissions and discharges from the previous night; lead a new staff orientation and training; meet with charge nurses to discuss patient care goals for the week; make rounds with new nurses and offer feedback and mentoring; review purchase orders to ensure supplies are stocked, and see patients with complex medical issues and older adults at 1 o’clock. Include research and information from earlier policies.

Remember that this day is only an example. On some days, you could spend the entire day conducting research, while on others, you might attend meetings. You could spend some days caring for patients and others working only with new nurses to help them develop their abilities. There will always be a high demand for your services.

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