What does a CNS do and how do they function in the acute settings?

  1. Hello, All

    I would like to know what does a CNS do in the acute and non- acute settings? Are CNS independant like a NP and PA? Are CNS a brdige between the NPs and PAs? What are their responsibilities? Will CNS take jobs from the NPs and PAs? What is the CNS education level? Most important of all, can they work independant to a physician and a NP?

    Thank you, for your assistance and helping me to understand their job role and functions as a CNS.

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    About button2cute

    Joined: Dec '03; Posts: 0; Likes: 12
    ER RN


  3. by   pattchez
    You have a good question about the differences between CNS, NP & PA. I have worked as a Renal as well as a Nephrology/Transplant CNS so I have researched the scope of practice for the CNS role. Each of these roles are different with different educational courses and requirements -- none of these degrees are interchangeable. I know the CNS & NP have different certification exams. The CNS scope of practice varies from state to state but there is a national move underway to standarize it. I would suggest you check out the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialist's web site if you would like to learn more about what a CNS is. Also the same if true for the NP role. The CNS role provide autonomity and you can make clinical changes based on evidenced based practices that can really have a positive impact for staff nurses. I have my MSN as a CSN and got it in the 1988 so the CNS has had a masters requirement for a long time. It was in the 1990s that the NP role was moved to a masters level. Good luck in your search for a nursing career.
  4. by   kim00mik
    pattchez or anyone one else,

    i've been looking a lot into the CNS vs NP issue. but also came across a more recent CNS vs CNL (clinical nurse leader) issue. seems like CNL is so new that there is no certification for it yet.

    does anyone have any insights on what really is the difference between CNS vs CNL? from my research, i read that the main difference is that the CNS (specialist) practice on a system wide leve and CNL (generalist) practice at a cohort situation. for a pre-nurse, i don't know what that really means. can someone explain this in layman terms for me please?

    also, what if i go to a graduate program in CNL and later they decide CNL does not really work (since it's still in the evaluation period), then what will i do? spend two more yrs in CNS program??
  5. by   pattchez
    There is a great deal of difference between a CNS and CNL -- the main difference is with the notion of specialisization vs generalization. A CNS is a specialized nurse who is recognized with expertise in a certain area or field. The CNL is a generalist who is someone that is new to nursing with minimal experience in nursing but is granted a masters in nursing. With all the entry into practice issues with the AD, DIP, BSN -- I find it curious there is a move underway to add one more level of new nurse -- CNL. If I were to get my masters again, I want the best deal for the time and dollar investment, so I would go to the CNS or NP programs. Good luck on your endeavors.
  6. by   kim00mik

    thx for your reply. you make a lot of sense! i agree that CNS or NP programs is probably the best return on investment, but for someone who is doing a career change, it seems that CNL track can help that transition. I already have a BA and want to do nursing now -- in my research, it turns out i can get a MSN after than an AA due to the long wait lists. I've considered a BSN but then figured if i can get a MSN in the same time, why not? I hope that decision will not work against me later on. (I know you cannot get 2 MSN's so if i want to specialize or do NP, i'll have to do post-master's certificates options.)

    Also, there are two other reasons why I think CNL might be better --
    2. since I am new to the field, I don't know what specialization I want to do.
    3. even if I go the NP track, I'll have to compete with other new NPs who have been nurses for 10-20 yrs. They are way more qualified to be a NP than I am, hands down. The only thing I am afraid of is that if and when I want to become a NP, the requirement will be a doctorate degree! (that'll confuse the patients even more -- dr.nurse. hehe.)

    Since my last post, I've gathered that the CNL will practice as a staff nurse while CNS is a consultant to the staff nurse. Is this correct?

    I sense that there is animosity toward the CNL title, since it's new and have "title-conflict" with the established CNS credential. I really hope this works out.