A clinical nurse specialist (CNS), is an advanced practice registered nurse who has received a master’s degree or doctoral degree. Their expertise is used to diagnose, treat, and assess patients. Their role can also extend to other areas like research and health care management.

The primary function of a CNS is to provide high-quality, affordable specialty care. They can work in many specialties including:

  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s health
  • Geriatrics
  • Psychiatric Health
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Wound care
  • Pain management
  • Oncology
  • Care for the critically ill
  • Emergency room services

What does a Clinical Nurse Specialist do?

A clinical nurse specialist may order tests, diagnose, administer basic treatments and prescribe medication in certain states. They may also provide support and expertise to other nurses. They are often able to help with organizational changes and create plans that will ensure that the group uses best practices and provides evidence-based care.

A clinical nurse specialist has four main roles:

  • Expert clinician
  • Educator
  • Researcher
  • Consult

CNSs can spot gaps or deficiencies in health care. They may provide consultation services, communicate directly with patients and their families and monitor care, plan and implement interventions and evaluate the overall delivery of health care.

Research on:

  • Reduce hospital costs
  • Reduced hospital stay length
  • Reduced frequency of ER visits
  • Improved pain management
  • Improving patient satisfaction
  • Reducing medical complications during in-patient stays

Education and Training

A Master of Science or higher degree in nursing is required for clinical nurse specialists. They must also be certified and licensed by the state.

To become a CNS, you must:

  • A Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing
  • A Master of Science or Doctor of Nursing Practice is required.
  • A current registered nurse license
  • Minimum 500 hours of supervised clinical work in a specialty
  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center (or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses) can award a clinical nursing specialist certification.

There are many reasons to see a clinical nurse specialist

The types of care that clinical nurse specialists provide are varied because they work in various medical specialties. A clinical nurse specialist can provide a variety of services, including:

Prenatal care. 

A study that looked at high-risk pregnancies showed that mothers who were provided with in-home prenatal care by a nurse specialist saved time and money.

Preventive Medicine, Wellness Care. 

Clinical nurse specialists can help identify chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes early, according to studies. Early detection can help you get better preventive care and lower healthcare costs.

Psychiatric, Behavioral Care 

A clinical nurse specialist can provide behavioral healthcare services in private settings or to larger communities via outreach programs.

Long-term care 

A clinical nurse specialist can provide care for people suffering from conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and epilepsy.