What Does a Clinical Nurse Specialist Do?

Are you a registered nurse looking to advance your education and branch out into a specialized area of nursing? If so, you may find that becoming a clinical nurse specialist is exactly the type of career you’re looking for. Continue reading to learn all about clinical nurse specialists, including what they do and what type of career outlook one can expect as a clinical nurse specialist.

What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

A clinical nurse specialist is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who has a graduate degree in a specialty area of nursing. A clinical nurse specialist may choose from the following specialized nursing areas:

  • Adult Health
  • Adult – Gerontology
  • Adult Psychiatric – Mental Health
  • Child/Adolescent Psychiatric – Mental Health
  • Home Health
  • Pediatrics
  • Public/Community Health

Clinical nurse specialists act as both registered nurses and consultants for nursing staffs while also playing an important role in the improvement of the health care system. There are more than 72,000 clinical nurse specialists in the United States, according to ExploreHEALTHCareers.org.

What Does a Clinical Nurse Specialist Do?

Clinical nurse specialists may work in hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities. In addition to performing registered nursing duties, clinical nurse specialists are trained to function in other phases. This includes patient management, nursing staff management and involvement in the organization/management of the health care system in general.

Clinical nurse specialists have various other duties, which include diagnosing and treating diseases or injuries; providing direct patient care; reviewing and adjusting treatment plans; documenting patient information; working with healthcare providers and professionals; assessing and evaluating healthcare programs and standards; and supervising nurses in regards to patient care.

What Does it Take To Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

To become a clinical nurse specialist, the candidate must first be a registered nurse. Once the individual is a registered nurse, he or she can enroll in an accredited clinical nurse specialist program and earn a master’s degree in their specialized area of nursing. Clinical nurse specialist programs usually take two to three years to complete. Those who are interested in research or teaching typically earn doctoral degrees (for more information, please visit: What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice and What Can You Do With It?).

Clinical nurse specialists can obtain certification in their chosen area of specialty through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. There are specific requirements that must be met to be eligible for each of the certifications.

What is the Career Outlook for Clinical Nurse Specialists?

Registered nurses in general are expected to see an employment growth of nineteen percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of their advanced education, clinical nurse specialists may see even better employment opportunities. The job market and career outlook for clinical nurse specialists is excellent, with demand far outweighing the supply.

According to an August 2014 report by Salary.com, clinical nurse specialists earned an average annual wage of $95,689, with the lowest ten percent earning $78,747 and the top ninety percent earning $111,512. Wages may be affected by location, area of specialty and years of experience.

Clinical nurse specialists generally experience a rewarding workday as they help sick and injured patients feel better and, if possible, live longer lives. Clinical nurse specialists also play an important role in improving healthcare delivery systems and are highly respected professionals in the medical industry.