What's the Job Description of a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

This advanced practice nursing position requires that you earn a graduate degree and choose a specialty area. You may also need to obtain certification if required by your state. Read on to find out more about education requirements, salary information and career outlook. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

As a clinical nurse specialist, you'll handle advanced nursing duties within a specialty field, such as geriatrics, neonatology, family practice, or women's health. You'll have more responsibility and authority than the typical RN, and you'll be looked at as an expert in your field. You may act as a researcher, healthcare provider, educator, administrator, consultant, or case manager. Through your work, you can contribute to developing patient care standards, finding solutions to problems, and preventing crises. In some states, you may also have the responsibility of prescribing medications.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Similar Occupations Certified Nurse Assistant, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Manager
Key Skills Emotional stability, physical stamina, organizational, and critical-thinking skills
Work Environment Typically full time in hospitals and other healthcare facilities
Required Education Prior coursework in microbiology, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology help

Educational Requirements

If you want to become a clinical nurse specialist, you must first become a registered nurse. To do this, you'll need to complete an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) to get your nursing license. If you choose a diploma or associate's degree program, you'll need to continue with your education and earn your bachelor's degree since a bachelor's degree is typically required to enter a graduate program. After earning a bachelor's degree and obtaining some work experience as an RN, the next step is to enroll in a master's or doctoral degree program in nursing for clinical nurse specialists. In addition to completing clinical practicums in different specialty areas, you'll take classes that may include nursing ethics, pharmacology, advanced health assessment, advanced nursing research, and pathophysiology.

Certification

In many states, you'll need to become certified as a clinical nurse specialist after finishing graduate school. Typically, this involves providing proof that you have an active RN license and have completed at least a master's degree program in nursing. Additionally, you may need to pass an advanced practice nursing exam or acquire some clinical experience as a clinical nurse specialist. The exact eligibility requirements can vary from state to state.

Even if your state does not require certification, it is still an option that may help you attain advancement opportunities. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers voluntary certifications for clinical nurse specialists. Some of the specialties in which you can earn certification include adult health, pediatrics, child mental health, gerontology, diabetes management, home health, public health, and adult mental health. Eligibility requirements generally include completing a graduate program in nursing and holding a current RN license. Certification can help you prove your skills and knowledge in your specialty area through a nationally recognized testing process.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of clinical nurse specialists earn between $61,239 and $118,473 a year, as of September 2015. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of clinical nursing specialties, the BLS did project that the employment of registered nurses in general will likely grow by about 19% between 2012 and 2022, a rate faster than the average predicted for all occupations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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