In this weekly feature, the editors of SpringBoard highlight one career in the health care professions–including a basic description, educational requirements, core competencies/key skills needed, and related web sites and professional organizations where you can find more information!

BASIC DESCRIPTION

The clinical nurse specialist coordinates activities regarding patient care on a specific unit within the hospital. This is an advanced practice role and requires a Master of Science in Nursing. The setting is usually inpatient hospital, and intense. Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) assist the multidisciplinary team from admission to discharge; answer and refer questions the family might have; are involved in health teaching and support/counseling; assist in developing protocols for managing care of the
client; serve as a resource person to staff nurses and other health team members; collect data and investigate trends for the program, for example, heart surgery; facilitate discharge preparation for a smooth transmission back home; and coordinate follow-up visits for the patient.

EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Registered nurse preparation and Master of Science in Nursing are required. Most settings require 5 years of acute care experience. Certification in various CNS roles is available from the American Association of Critical Care Nursing and American Nurses Credentialing Center.

CORE COMPETENCIES/SKILLS NEEDED

■ Self-confidence and strong leadership skills
■ Excellent communication
■ Understanding of organizational structure
■ Technical competency involving use of complex equipment
■ Teaching skills
■ Clinical competency
■ Ability to work with interdisciplinary teams
■ Skills in staff evaluation

RELATED WEB SITES AND NURSING ORGANIZATIONS

■ National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists
(www.nacns.org)
■ American Board of Nursing Specialties (www.nursingcertifi cation.org)
■ American Nurses Credentialing Center (www.nursingworld.org/ancc/index.htm)
■ American Association of Critical Care Nurses
(http://www.aacn.org/wd/certifi cations/content/ccnslanding.pcms?menu=certifi cation)