Clinical Nurse Specialists

Steps to Becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) are advanced practice nurses with a graduate degree in a specific area of expertise. This expertise might be in a specific patient population, a specific setting (e.g., the ER), a disease or illness, a type of care (e.g., psychiatric) or a type of health problem (e.g., stress). Clinical nurse specialists diagnose and treat illnesses, diseases and injuries, but in addition to providing direct patient care, they serve as consultants for nursing staffs and recommend ways to improve overall healthcare delivery systems.

Preparation Path

  • GET YOUR ASN OR BSN
  • PASS YOUR NCLEX AND BECOME AN RN
  • GET YOUR MSN WITH EMPHASIS ON A CNS SPECIALTY
  • GET YOUR CNS CERTIFICATION
  • PARTICIPATE IN ONGOING EDUCATION IN YOUR SPECIALTY AREA

$50,800 - $110,000

Annual Salary Range

Typical Tasks

  • Monitoring and evaluating patients’ needs
  • Administering medication
  • Setting up treatment plans for patients within a certain specialty
  • Implementing orientation programs and ongoing education/training for nursing staffs

Education Requirements

ASN or BSN, followed by MSN

Employment Settings

  • Hospitals (public and private)
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Individual patients’ homes

Certification

RN, plus CNS certification in the your specialty of choice