Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are advanced practice registered nurses who have been trained at the graduate level to diagnose and treat illnesses in their area of expertise. The specialties include critical care, geriatrics, oncology, women’s health, pediatrics and psychiatric mental health.
The training also prepares the CNS to take on the roles of clinical consultant, educator, researcher, program planner and leader. In these roles and through partnerships with physicians, nursing staff and other colleagues, the Clinical Nurse Specialist contributes to the effective and efficient delivery of medical services.
Contact the schools in North Carolina with CNS programs listed below to learn more about entering this vital nursing role.
You can find accredited campus based programs for Certified Nurse Specialist in North Carolina. It generally takes about 45 semester hours and you can likely complete it in two years full-time, or three-and-a-half years part-time.
The following admission requirements typically apply to NC Clinical Nurse Specialist programs:
- Bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited nursing program
- CGPA of 2.7 or higher; 3.0 in the nursing major
- Acceptable score on the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test
- Currently licensed as an RN in the North Carolina or a NCSBN-compact state
- A personal statement
- Three professional references, one of which must be from a healthcare provider who knows the applicant’s work
- Personal interview
- A statistics course with grade of C or better
- One year of current practice experience
The curriculum consists of 13 semester hours of Advanced Nursing core courses in theory, research and finance, 12 hours in the core courses that relate to your specialty focus and 18 hours in clinical courses. The cluster core courses include Human Physiology and Pathophysiology for Advanced Nursing Practice, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Health Assessment and Clinical Pharmacology. The clinical courses include three semesters of supervised on- site practicum by clinical preceptor.
If distance education better fits your situation, you might look at programs offered in schools outside of North Carolina. There are online CSN programs you can refer to which include accreditation information.
In exploring online nursing programs, be sure to check their state authorization lists to make sure that the school is authorized to enroll online nursing students from North Carolina. Also, most programs will require some on-campus meetings or Intensives which may involve travel to the designated campus. You should also see what arrangements they have made for practicum placements of distance students.
Upon completion of an accredited Clinical Nurse Specialist program, you will quality to sit for the certification exam given by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
CNSs are increasingly regarded as critical to the improved functioning of healthcare. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that research shows a strong correlation between interventions by Clinical Nurse Specialists and safe, cost-effective patient care. There were also reports of increased patient satisfaction with nursing care, fewer complications with hospitalized patients and reduced frequency of emergency room visits. As a result, AACN has encouraged expanded use of Clinical Nurse Specialists in health care settings.
The American Journal of Medical Quality reported that there is expected a shortage of a million nurses in the nation by 2030, and North Carolina will be facing a shortage of 20,000. It is imperative, not only that more nurses be trained, but that nursing services be utilized more effectively. This is where the CSN can make a significant difference.
The North Carolina Board of Nursing announced that all Clinical Nurse Specialists must be recognized by the Board by July 1, 2015 to be able to practice as a CNS in North Carolina. Applicants must provide proof of completion of an MSN degree in Nursing and certification by a national credentialing body. This official action was necessitated by the proliferation of un-credentialed CNSs in the state; this in itself points to the shortage of CNSs in the state.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which maintains an employment database for the federal government, does not provide wage data for the category of Clinical Nurse Specialist. Registered nurse median salaries in 2014 are reported by O*net as $66,640 for the country as a whole and $66,200 for North Carolina. According to MIMNC.org Clinical Nurse Specialists can expect annual salaries of around $80,000; the highest paid CNSs earn about $120,920 and the lowest paid earn around $60,537.
Preparing yourself to be a Clinical Nurse Specialist can open up broad opportunities in the healthcare world. As a practicing nurse, you probably had experiences where you could see that better knowledge, communication, teamwork and coordination would have improved patient care in a hospital or medical center. As a Clinical Nurse Specialist, you would be able to bring about those changes and to take active part in improving patient care and in contributing to better healthcare for North Carolina residents.
Contact the North Carolina schools listed here to see what they can provide in getting you started on Certified Nurse Specialist training. With the Board of Nursing action on CNS recognition and the national call for more CNSs, more schools may be moving toward offering this specialty in their MSN programs