Not all nurses are created equally. In the field of nursing, there are endless specialties that focus on specific health concerns of patients. These different concentrations can overlap, and the care provided by specialized nurses, doctors or other medical staff requires a leader to maintain quality of care over these various disciplines. In order to address multi-faceted issues regarding patients and improve the overall health care provided within hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities, in 2003, the AACN developed its first new nursing role in 35 years: Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL).
A Clinical Nurse Leader is an advanced generalist nurse with the ability to manage and coordinate patient care and communication while facilitating treatments through the evidence-based nursing model of care. These nurses provide hands-on care to patients while still serving as a point of contact for other nurses, doctors, medical staff and the patient. Clinical Nurse Leaders work on a microsystem level, serving nursing units and departments through the careful planning and implementation of treatment plans.
As an Advanced Practice Nurse, a Clinical Nurse Leader is expected to have obtained a Master of Science in Nursing degree, either through a college, university or online nursing program. The education provided by these programs can be enhanced through certifications and prior work experience, but as a generalist position, it is possible to become a Clinical Nurse Leader based on the Master of Science degree alone. Payscale.com reports that Clinical Nurse Leaders can earn $59,873 – $108,757 annually, depending on location and experience.
Taking the errors out of healthcare is a never-ending process that ensures a positive patient outcome. As diagnoses, treatments and aftercare options for patients evolve, and with the evidence-based nursing model that takes into account medical research, nurse experience and patient needs, a coordinator of treatment can eliminate many medical mistakes that can cost time, money or reduce the quality of life for patients. Clinical Nurse Leaders are able to provide quality care to patients through both hands-on and the coordination of the various resources available to patients.