A clinical nurse specialist or CNS, is an advanced practice registered nurse who specializes in a niche practice area. Clinical Nurse Specialists are highly educated healthcare leaders with a master’s degree preparation and advanced knowledge of nursing practices. Besides their specific areas of specialty, CNSs are trained in physical assessment, physiology, and pharmacology. Clinical Nurse Specialists are key resources in healthcare facilities, making them in demand specialists. Clinical Nurse Specialists are highly sought after on NurseFly with prestigious healthcare facilities seeking Clinical Nurse Specialists for positions around the country.
Clinical Nurse Specialist Salary
Clinical Nurse Specialists on staff earned an average annual of $79,985 in 2020, per data collected by Indeed. This yearly salary breaks down to about $1,538 per week or $38.45 hourly in a 40-hour work week. Travel CNSs can expect to earn more than staff nurses in comparable positions.
According to NurseFly salary data, travel Clinical Nurse Specialists nurses earned an average gross weekly income of $1,620 in 2019. This salary potentially includes taxed pay and untaxed wages that cover stipends for housing, meals, and other incidentals if the travel nurse can claim a permanent tax home.
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Clinical Nurse FAQs
What does a Clinical Nurse Specialist do?
CNSs predominately work with either adults or children within a specialty and responsible for education and training of nursing staff. They also influence healthcare innovations by evaluating patient-specific and population-specific programs of care and facilitating alternate solutions to deal with specific patient care issues.
CSNs also educate, mentor, and support other nurses. As such, clinical nurse specialists perform patient assessments, order diagnostic and laboratory tests, and develop treatment plans. The exact scope of practice of a CNS varies by state, which includes state laws regarding independent practice and prescriptive authority issued by state licensing boards. Other duties vary based on their area of specialty and the facility that employees them.
Where do Clinical Nurse Specialists work?
Hospitals are primary employers of CNSs, but they also may work in other healthcare settings. Clinical Nurse Specialists may work in outpatient care facilities, long-term care facilities, psychiatric care facilities, home health care organizations, and private practices. No matter the practice setting, a clinical nurse works with a specialty, which is typically identified by population, setting, disease, type of care required, and/or type of medical problem.
What skills make a good Clinical Nurse Specialist?
CNSs are highly trained medical professionals with extensive clinical skills and advanced knowledge of medical practices, hospital systems, and technology. They have strong problem-solving and decision-making skills to help them with complex cases and research tasks. CNSs are natural leaders with the ability to inform, guide, and motivate others. Their exceptional interpersonal and written and verbal skills are assets when collaborating with other healthcare professionals and for establishing therapeutic relationships with patients. The ability to remain calm during challenging situations, compassion, empathy, and patience are just a few of the many other important skills they bring to the workplace.
How to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist
Working as a Clinical Nurse Specialist requires a Master of Science in Nursing or higher, which can be earned after becoming a registered nurse. Prerequisites include earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited education program, passing the NCLEX-RN exam, and completing all state licensing requirements to obtain RN licensure. Depending on the specialty, certifications like Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support may be required.
Many future CNSs work as RNs while earning their MSN to gain practical nursing experience. Besides an advanced nursing degree, future CNSs must choose a specialty and seek specialty certification based on their area of care.
Population-level CNS credentialing can be obtained through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.