Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
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A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is a masters prepared, advanced practice nurse whose care focuses on a specific patient population (e.g., medical, surgical, diabetic, cardiovascular, operating room, emergency room, critical care, or geriatric, neonatal, etc.) A CNS divides their time into five general areas - clinical practice, teaching, research, consulting, and management. Their assessment skills tend to be more focused than a Nurse Practitioners, since they focus on a particular area of specialty. But they make up for this by being able to provide more expertise than even an expert level staff nurse (who typically has their responsibilities divided into many different sub-areas.)
CNSs are uniquely prepared to assume the role of case manager - one who organizes and coordinates services and resources, and who works to control costs. This makes CNSs central players in the growth of managed care, and they serve to manage the complexities and interdependencies of different parts of health care practice.
The educational role is an important one too, and it covers patient education, nursing staff education, non-nursing members of the team, community education, and teaching of undergraduate and graduate level nursing students. The CNS role remains an excellent career choice for the clinically excellent nurse who wants to both positively influence one-on-one patient-care situations and improve the processes that compose health care systems.
CNSs may practice independently, or they may work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and for various health care agencies. CNSs choose an area of specialization, many of which are listed below: