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Clinical Nurse Leader Degrees in Illinois

When you start your career in nursing, there’s a lot to learn! You have to apply your newly gained practical skills, navigate fast-paced environments, and discover how to work as part of a nursing team. As you evolve in your nursing role, however, you may discover that you have capabilities and skills that can pave the way for new career opportunities.

If you’re prone to taking on a leadership role as a nurse and you enjoy the challenges that come with tackling complex care situations, you may be interested in becoming a Clinical Nurse Leader. Look at Maria Kordas, a nursing supervisor in Chicago (CBS Local, 2015).

She found that working as a nursing supervisor allowed her to spend more time with patients and improve their care through empowering staff nurses. She notes that the nurse leader role puts you in a position to model high-quality nursing care for new registered nurses.

Getting involved in nursing means investing yourself in the future of Illinois. Why not take it one step further by learning more about clinical nurse leadership Master’s programs in Illinois?

How Can I Become a Clinical Nurse Leader in Illinois?

The biggest part of becoming a successful nurse leader is getting the right education and experience behind you. With a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, you should meet the admissions requirements for many CNL programs in Illinois. However, you may also want to check out the experience requirements, since many graduate-level programs require you to have a specific amount of nursing experience.

If you have an Associate’s degree in nursing, consider looking into RN to MSN bridge programs. Although these programs are a bit longer, they tend to be the quickest option for transitioning to a BSN and then to an MSN.

Through the curriculum requirements of your school, you should develop the advanced leadership skills and clinical knowledge that nursing employers in Illinois look for. The following courses are often included in nurse leadership programs:

  • Nursing Leadership in Health Systems
  • Human Resources Management in Nursing and Health Care
  • Business of Nursing
  • Evidence Based Practice for Advanced Nursing
  • Roles for Advanced Nursing Practice

By looking at each program's curriculum and learning outcomes, you should be able to get a broad overview of the school's goals and how you will grow as you earn your degree.

Illinois nurse leadership programs may expect you to meet the following learning outcomes by the time you graduate:

  • Address complex care needs
  • Adapt to specialized care roles
  • Apply advanced nursing knowledge to clinical situations
  • Comfortably take on a leadership role in nursing environments

Taking on an advanced nursing role means meeting the certification requirements for two different positions. First, you have to maintain your Illinois nursing license. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation expects you to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years. You must renew your license by the last day of May in even-numbered years.

The AACN is the organization that administers Clinical Nurse Leadership licenses. Upon meeting their educational requirements and passing the licensing exam, you can claim the title of Clinical Nurse Leader. Then, you must renew your certification every five years by completing 50 hours of continuing education.

What Does a Clinical Nurse Leader Do?

Although the title of Clinical Nurse Leader is specifically regulated by the AACN, this role may take on several different variations, depending on which health care setting you work in and the needs of your specific facility. Getting involved in a nurse leadership group can help you become involved with the culture of nurse leadership in Illinois. Consider joining the Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders to learn from the experience of others who take on leadership roles in this field.

Many different tasks may comprise your work as a nurse leader. However, your main priority as a CNL is patient care. Whether you are with a patient providing direct care, analyzing the results from nurse-provided care, or developing care plans, the vast majority of what you do should be for the benefit of patients.

It is also essential to recognize your role as a mentor for new nurses. By valuing education and guiding nurses to higher standards, you can improve the field of nursing as a whole.

To truly mobilize and grow, the nursing industry needs strong leaders. Find out how you can become one by contacting graduate nurse leadership programs in Illinois.

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