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Become A Clinical Nurse Specialist

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Working As A Clinical Nurse Specialist

  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $109,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Clinical Nurse Specialist Do

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Duties

Registered nurses typically do the following:

  • Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
  • Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute to existing plans
  • Observe patients and record the observations
  • Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
  • Explain what to do at home after treatment

Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.

Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. For example, an oncology nurse may work with cancer patients or a geriatric nurse may work with elderly patients. Some registered nurses combine one or more areas of practice. For example, a pediatric oncology nurse works with children and teens who have cancer.

Many possibilities for working with specific patient groups exist. The following list includes just a few examples:

Addiction nurses care for patients who need help to overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs, and other substances.

Cardiovascular nurses care for patients with heart disease and people who have had heart surgery.

Critical care nurses work in intensive-care units in hospitals, providing care to patients with serious, complex, and acute illnesses and injuries that need very close monitoring and treatment.

Genetics nurses provide screening, counseling, and treatment for patients with genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.

Neonatology nurses take care of newborn babies.

Nephrology nurses care for patients who have kidney-related health issues stemming from diabetes, high blood pressure, substance abuse, or other causes.

Rehabilitation nurses care for patients with temporary or permanent disabilities.

Registered nurses may work to promote public health, by educating people on warning signs and symptoms of disease or managing chronic health conditions. They may also run health screenings, immunization clinics, blood drives, or other community outreach programs. Other nurses staff the health clinics in schools.

Some nurses do not work directly with patients, but they must still have an active registered nurse license. For example, they may work as nurse educators, healthcare consultants, public policy advisors, researchers, hospital administrators, salespeople for pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, or as medical writers and editors.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). They provide direct patient care in one of many nursing specialties, such as psychiatric-mental health or pediatrics. CNSs also provide indirect care, by working with other nurses and various other staff to improve the quality of care that patients receive. They often serve in leadership roles and may educate and advise other nursing staff. CNSs also may conduct research and may advocate for certain policies.

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How To Become A Clinical Nurse Specialist

Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses also must be licensed.

Education

In all nursing education programs, students take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and other social and behavioral sciences, as well as in liberal arts. BSN programs typically take 4 years to complete; ADN and diploma programs usually take 2 to 3 years to complete. All programs include supervised clinical experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs usually include additional education in the physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These programs also offer more clinical experience in nonhospital settings. A bachelor’s degree or higher is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.

Generally, licensed graduates of any of the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate’s, or diploma) qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. However, employers—particularly those in hospitals—may require a bachelor’s degree.

Many registered nurses with an ADN or diploma choose to go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program. There are also master’s degree programs in nursing, combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, and accelerated programs for those who wish to enter the nursing profession and already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) must earn a master’s degree in nursing and typically already have 1 or more years of work experience as an RN or in a related field. CNSs who conduct research typically need a doctoral degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, registered nurses must have a nursing license. To become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Other requirements for licensing vary by state. Each state’s board of nursing can give details. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Nurses may become certified through professional associations in specific areas, such as ambulatory care, gerontology, and pediatrics, among others. Although certification is usually voluntary, it demonstrates adherence to a higher standard, and some employers require it.

CNSs must satisfy additional state licensing requirements, such as earning specialty certifications. Contact state boards of nursing for specific requirements.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Registered nurses must be able to assess changes in the health status of patients, including determining when to take corrective action and when to make referrals.

Communication skills. Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and assess their health conditions. Nurses need to explain instructions, such as how to take medication, clearly. They must be able to work in teams with other health professionals and communicate the patients’ needs.

Compassion. Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when caring for patients.

Detail oriented. Registered nurses must be responsible and detail oriented because they must make sure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Emotional stability. Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to manage their emotions to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stresses.

Organizational skills. Nurses often work with multiple patients with various health needs. Organizational skills are critical to ensure that each patient is given appropriate care.

Physical stamina. Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as moving patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.

Advancement

Most registered nurses begin as staff nurses in hospitals or community health settings. With experience, good performance, and continuous education, they can move to other settings or be promoted to positions with more responsibility.

In management, nurses can advance from assistant clinical nurse manager, charge nurse, or head nurse to more senior-level administrative roles, such as assistant director or director of nursing, vice president of nursing, or chief nursing officer. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions are requiring a graduate degree in nursing or health services administration. Administrative positions require leadership, communication skills, negotiation skills, and good judgment.

Some nurses move into the business side of healthcare. Their nursing expertise and experience on a healthcare team equip them to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based, and chronic care businesses. Employers—including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and managed care organizations, among others—need registered nurses for jobs in health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development, and quality assurance.

Some RNs choose to become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners, which, along with clinical nurse specialists, are types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs may provide primary and specialty care, and in many states they may prescribe medications.

Other nurses work as postsecondary teachers in colleges and universities.

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Clinical Nurse Specialist Career Paths

Clinical Nurse Specialist
Nurse Practitioner Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Nurse Practitioner Case Manager Nursing Director
Chief Nursing Officer
13 Yearsyrs
Nurse Manager Nursing Director
Director Of Health Services
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Practitioner Case Manager Assistant Director
Director Of Pharmacist
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Supervisor Nurse Manager
Emergency Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager Clinical Manager
Clinical Operations Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Supervisor Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Supervisor Director Service Director
Administrative Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Educator Registered Nurse Case Manager Clinical Manager
Manager Of Clinical Services
10 Yearsyrs
Family Nurse Practitioner Adjunct Professor Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Faculty Reviewer Utilization Review Nurse
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Clinical Supervisor Practice Manager
Consulting Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Nurse Educator Nurse Case Manager Nursing Director
Director Of Clinical Education
11 Yearsyrs
Clinical Manager Regional Manager Asset Manager
Manager, Asset Management
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Case Manager Assistant Director Of Nursing Director Of Clinical Education
Respiratory Care Program Director
8 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Program Manager Clinical Director
Director Of Child Welfare Services
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Department Chairperson Medical Director
Inpatient Services Director
12 Yearsyrs
Clinical Educator Quality Coordinator Quality Consultant
Quality Improvement Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Specialist Senior Sales Representative Senior Sales Specialist
Hospital Account Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Clinical Nurse Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

78.8%

Unknown

11.4%

Male

9.8%
Ethnicity

White

64.7%

Hispanic or Latino

12.5%

Black or African American

12.2%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

74.3%

Portuguese

2.9%

Hawaiian

2.9%

Czech

2.9%

French

2.9%

German

2.9%

Tagalog

2.9%

Cantonese

2.9%

Mandarin

2.9%

Korean

2.9%
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Clinical Nurse Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.6%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

6.9%

University of California - San Francisco

6.3%

Walden University

6.3%

University of Pennsylvania

6.1%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

4.8%

Georgia State University

4.6%

University of South Alabama

4.6%

Emory University

4.6%

Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

4.3%

University of Texas at Austin

4.3%

University of Washington

4.3%

Vanderbilt University

4.1%

University of Cincinnati

3.9%

Kent State University

3.9%

Rush University

3.9%

Catholic University of America

3.7%

Case Western Reserve University

3.7%

Chamberlain College of Nursing

3.7%

Boston College

3.5%
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Majors

Nursing

80.8%

Nursing Science

2.4%

Business

2.3%

Family Practice Nursing

2.2%

Health Care Administration

2.2%

Education

1.3%

Management

1.2%

Clinical Psychology

1.0%

Public Health

0.9%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

0.8%

Psychology

0.7%

Mental Health Counseling

0.6%

Nursing Assistants

0.6%

Elementary Education

0.6%

Law

0.5%

Educational Leadership

0.5%

Pharmacology

0.4%

Gerontology

0.4%

Medical Technician

0.4%

Physiology And Anatomy

0.3%
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Degrees

Masters

48.6%

Bachelors

16.5%

Other

10.9%

Doctorate

8.6%

Associate

7.4%

Certificate

6.1%

Diploma

1.4%

License

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$109,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$62,000
Min 10%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$109,000
Median 50%
$191,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Aurora Medical Group
Highest Paying City
Rochester, MN
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.7 years
How much does a Clinical Nurse Specialist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the United States is $109,229 per year or $53 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $62,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $191,000.

Real Clinical Nurse Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Clinical Nurse Specialist University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Aug 21, 2014 $135,177
Clinical Nurse Specialist University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Sep 04, 2011 $125,000
Clinical Nurse Specialist, Oncology Stanford Hospital & Clinics Palo Alto, CA Sep 16, 2013 $121,867 -
$175,136
Clinical Nurse Specialist-Consultation Liaison Mills-Peninsula Health Services Burlingame, CA Nov 01, 2010 $116,872
Clinical Nurse Specialist-Diabetes Stanford Hospital & Clinics Palo Alto, CA May 11, 2015 $109,200 -
$175,200
Clinical Nurse Specialist Stanford Hospital & Clinics Palo Alto, CA Aug 30, 2015 $109,200 -
$175,198
Bariatric Nurse Specialist Sutter East Bay Hospitals Oakland, CA Jul 05, 2010 $103,838
Clinical Nurse Specialist ICU The Charlotte Hungerford Hospital Torrington, CT Jul 20, 2015 $78,847
Clinical Nurse Specialist (Psychiatric and Mental Medical Dynamic Systems, Inc. Roslyn Heights, NY Dec 14, 2009 $77,344
Nurse Specialist (Family) Medical Dynamic Systems, Inc. Roslyn, NY Nov 30, 2009 $77,344
Clinical Nurse Specialist (Psychiatric and Mental Medical Dynamic Systems, Inc. Woodmere, NY Dec 14, 2009 $77,344
Nurse Specialist (Women's Health) Medical Dynamic Systems, Inc. Roslyn, NY Nov 30, 2009 $77,344
Clinical Nurse Specialist (Critical Care Unit) Medical Dynamic Systems, Inc. Roslyn, NY Nov 30, 2009 $77,344
Clinical Specialist Nurse-ER Access Therapies, Inc. San Diego, CA Nov 09, 2009 $70,958
Clinical Nurse Specialist and Educator William Novick Global Cardiac Alliance, Inc. Memphis, TN Jan 23, 2015 $70,000 -
$90,000
Clinical Nurse Specialist Praveen Bolarum Md, LLC Frederick, MD Sep 26, 2013 $70,000
Clinical Nurse Specialist and Educator William Novick Global Cardiac Alliance, Inc. Collierville, TN Jan 15, 2015 $70,000 -
$90,000
Aesthetic Nurse Specialist Asia Pacific Plastic Surgery Inc. Urban Honolulu, HI Nov 15, 2014 $69,915
Aesthetic Nurse Specialist Asia Pacific Plastic Surgery Inc. Urban Honolulu, HI Nov 15, 2014 $69,680
Clinical Nurse Specialist Crofton Convalescent Center Crofton, MD Oct 01, 2011 $64,697
Clinical Nurse Specialist Universal Medical Records Information Network Corp New York, NY Sep 09, 2014 $64,572
Clinical Nurse Specialist Moore Nurses LLC Houston, TX Oct 01, 2010 $62,610 -
$30
Clinical Nurse Specialist Moore Nurses LLC Houston, TX Dec 01, 2010 $62,610
Clinical Nurse Specialist Moore Nurses LLC Houston, TX Nov 15, 2010 $62,610
Clinical Nurse Specialist Moore Nurses LLC Houston, TX Oct 15, 2010 $62,610
Clinical Nurse Specialist Spanish Meadows of Katy Ltd. Katy, TX Sep 01, 2014 $62,610

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Top Skills for A Clinical Nurse Specialist

  1. Patient Care
  2. Clinical Staff
  3. Emergency Department
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Collaborated with the multidisciplinary team in developing and implementing Quality Performance Improvement Programs for safe and supportive patient care.
  • Supported clinical staff and clinical leadership by writing pain and symptom management protocols that support existing policies and are evidenced based.
  • Developed aggression prevention and response training for Psychiatry and Emergency Department.
  • Formulated and provided orientation for critical care and emergency room nurses.
  • Coordinated Liver Center with triage and management of internal/external referrals, and managed follow-up to other services.

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Top 10 Best States for Clinical Nurse Specialists

  1. Alaska
  2. Hawaii
  3. Oregon
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Connecticut
  6. New Mexico
  7. Massachusetts
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Nevada
  10. New Jersey
  • (245 jobs)
  • (271 jobs)
  • (1,038 jobs)
  • (333 jobs)
  • (1,102 jobs)
  • (727 jobs)
  • (2,330 jobs)
  • (801 jobs)
  • (477 jobs)
  • (2,470 jobs)

Top Clinical Nurse Specialist Employers

Jobs From Top Clinical Nurse Specialist Employers

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