After being a staff nurse for 2 years, I went to school, got my MSN and became a CNS (back before that role required certification). After 10 year of being a Neonatal CNS, I went back to school again and got a PhD. I've spent almost all of my career working in hospitals in roles that have combined CNS and Staff Development functions. Over the span of my 30+ year career, I have had roles focusing on the following things:
1. Staff Development (orientation, on-going education, etc.)
2. Clinical consultation
3. Implementing changes in clinical practice (writing policies & procedures and seeing that they get implemented ... evaluating their effectiveness, etc.)
4. Lead parent support groups
5. Done discharge planning & teaching
6. Done "a little" management
7. Implemented new programs (started a scholarship
program, started and run a nursing student extern program
8. Coordinated student activity in my hospital
9. Done a little research
10. Served on more committees and task forces than I can count
In short, my general education as a CNS made me suitable for a variety of jobs -- but not anything involving medical diagnosis/treatment. That limitation was fine with me because I never had any interest in being a primary care provider. Please don't be offended anyone ... Some of my best friends are NP's and I receive care from NP's gladly ... but if I had wanted to do that kind of work, I would have become a physician. I have always been more drawn to leading the delivery of traditional nursing care than to the direct provision of care in an expanded/extended role.
Currently, my role focuses on research & evidence-based practice, running my extern program, being the liaison with the area nursing schools, and teaching within the staff development department. I have decided to become certified in the field of "Nursing Professional Development" to solidify my expertise in the development of nurses beyond their basic entry into the profession.
The general education of my CNS education was a good fit for me -- as I can cope with the ambiguity of some of these roles and be flexible enough to switch my job focus ocassionally.
Good luck with whatever you decide!