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Clinical Nurse Specialists

Learn about the 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 emergency room), 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, and recommend ways to improve overall health care delivery systems.

Preparation Path

Attain a BSN

Pass the NCLEX and become an RN

Get your MSN with emphasis on a CNS specialty

Get CNS certification

Participate in ongoing education in your specialty area

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

Employment Settings

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

Annual Salary Range

$100,561 – $121,821


RN, plus CNS certification in your specialty of choice

Education Requirements

BSN, followed by MSN

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Prepared to get started on your goal of becoming a clinical nurse specialist?