Monday, August 31, 2009

Community CNS Careers

This is a guest post by Richard Hemby. Enjoy...

A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is an nurse of advanced practice who administers nursing services to a specific patient population. These nurses are specialists who may focus on areas such as cardiology, oncology, neonatology, OB/GYN, pediatrics, neurology, and mental health. A CNS may focus on a very specific type of disease, such as diabetes, or they may focus on a specific hospital environment, such as the operating room or the emergency room. They can practice with a variety of different healthcare environments, and may provide simple nursing care for patients while also consulting the nursing staff, influencing the healthcare system, making medical diagnosis, and treating illness or injury.

A CNS takes on many of the responsibilities that used to be assigned to a doctor. They have a very focused set of assessment skills that make them more qualified to care for a specific type of population than even the most expert staff nurse. The CNS is a more central player than a staff nurse, often taking on the role of educator for the staff nurses, patients, and non-nursing members of a hospital team.

Depending their area of expertise, location, and years of practice; a CNS may practice independently or work in a hospital. They could work for a health care agency, or even teach undergraduate and graduate-students at the nursing level. The CNS role is one of much flexibility and is an excellent choice for someone who wishes to be involved in one-on-one patient care while also helping to shape and better the processes that make up health care systems.

Clinical nurse specialist’s salaries range from $60,000 to $80,000, depending on their experience. The median salary for a person within the field of clinical nursing is currently $80,000. That is the average for approximately 14,000 clinical nurse specialists currently practicing in the United States. Due to their specialization and level of expertise, a CNS has the potential to make more than $100,000 a year. Since there is currently a shortage of nurses that is projected to become even more severe in the coming years, the value of a CNS will surely increase accordingly.

To become a CNS, one must first become qualified to practice as a registered nurse. State laws regarding licensing of clinical nurse specialists varies from state to state, but a master’s degree and additional training will be necessary for a registered nurse to become a clinical nurse specialist. The American Nurses Credentialing Center will award a CNS accreditation to people in the field who pass exams in their specialties.

This is a guest post from Richard Hemby, a writer for Online College Guru, an online resouce for online degrees, colleges, and careers. For more information on online nursing degrees and nursing careers visit OCG's comprehensive nursing section.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Loving my New Gig

I cannot fully express how much I LOVE my new job! It's so much better than my last. I guess it takes being in the pits for 13 weeks to actually find and appreciate something that is so much better!

I work in the CCU (which is going to look super good on my resume!) I haven't worked in the CCU officially before, and this is a 3 month stint. It's been good so far, the hospital is fairly isolated in the boonies, so most of the super critical patients we transfer to one of the more high tech hospitals after we stabilize them. In some ways I feel like it's bare bones nursing, but my coworkers are super cool, the manager is the best and the patients aren't above my skill level.

I feel competent and appreciated. I feel like my being there matters and that I'm actually valued as a person. I don't feel dumped on---the assignments are always fair. I love it so much. Best of all, the pay is super good, way better than my last job.

I have no complaints, I only wish that I could stay here longer than 13 weeks...I don't know, I might re-up after my contract is over, that's how good it is.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


One of the benefits of doing travel nursing is the excellent opportunities for vacations practically year round. I've determined to take a week or two vacation in between each 13 week assignment, sort of like a pat on my own back for making it through.

I spent the last week in Hawaii on the Big Island. My hubby's fam rented this lovely house right on the ocean sea board, away from the 'tourists' and closer to nature. It was absolutely lovely, I sat on the rocks, watched the waves and read all the books in my To Be Read pile. It was nice to get away from rainy, cloudy Portland. And that was my first time in Hawaii so it was very great.

My next trip is planned at the end of this new contract. I'm going to start a CCU position in a community hospital about 30 minutes from my house. The manager showed me around the unit, and I'm actually excited. Tomorrow is agency, new pay, new unit, new field. The scene is set for me to rock out! Hopefully it won't end up the same ungrateful mess my last assignment was. Boy, I'm glad that is over!

So after this assignment, I'm going to Nigeria!! I'm really excited about that. I haven't been back to Nigeria in almost 7 years so it's going to be an experience.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Working Blues

Whoa, I can't believe it's been a month since a posted. That means that I've done 12-15 shifts, but have been too tired to write about it. I'm going through a period of frustration on my job. So much that I'm counting the remaining weeks left on my travel contract. The unit I work on is so disorganized, and the charge nurses make me the doormat on every shift I work.

I won't even go into all the injustices here, but to those that say that "oh you are getting paid more so you shouldn't complain"--get real! The staff nurses are making more than I am AND they get benefits. It's so bad that I actually heave a sigh of relief when I get floated---because the unit that I get floated too always ends up being better than my home unit. Wherever else I'm floated to---they are nicer and more helpful.

I hope that for the rest of the assignment, they float me every chance they get. Especially to the 7th floor---I heart the seventh floor! Even though it's just pure Med Surg, the energy up there is so refreshing and everyone is so helpful and friendly. It really does matter the attitude that your coworkers have.

So I'm buckling in for 2 more nights this week. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Norovirus

Our unit got hit with a gastro-enteritis virus last week. One patient had it and then it mysteriously appeared in 2 other patients. It's passed around by droplet transmission, and 15 nurses were out sick with it before it cleared out. The hospital infection control department quarantined our unit, and all patients with the mysterious N-virus were sent to our unit with all other patients being transferred out of it.

We had to be on droplet precautions, from gowns to booties each time we went in a room. Everything was bleached all day long, as that was the only thing that could kill the virus. If it stayed on an inanimate object, it could be transmitted for up to 30 days. Handwashing was amped up as well as bleaching all your stuff, even your shoes. If you caught it, you were sick with vomiting or diarrhea for 12-48 hours but couldn't be at work for 3 days after your last symptoms, to make sure that you didn't pass it on. People showed up at work and got sent home because they were still in the 'incubation' period.

The Norovirus took out our whole unit. But now it's gone. And thank God I didn't catch it.

Friday, February 01, 2008


As a traveler, I'm used to getting a different assignment everyday. It's rare that I keep the same assignment for all 3 12 hr shifts. However this past week seemed to be a weird trend, all my patients stayed over, and by the third day I was on a cloud, actually looking forward to getting to work. They weren't too complicated and were all reasonably stable and could voice their needs and independently void. What more can a nurse ask for?

At 10pm that night, I got an admission and was running trying to get him settled when the charge nurse told me that she was pulling me to go to another unit. This didn't please me but I sucked it up, finished my rounds, meds and report in 27 minutes flat and huffed it up to Neurovascular to get report on my second set of patients.

It turned out to be a sitter case. And not just any sitter case, a lovely one at that. He had fallen so many times during his stay that he was on 1:1 strictly for being a fall risk. Besides that he was hunky dory. He slept most of the shift and I watched so much crap nighttime tv it was ridiculous. He got abit agitated around 4am and I just whipped out a deck of cards from his table and played a weird version of rummy with him.

All in all it was a great night. I couldn't have asked for anything better. I wish it could be like this everytime I float. I wish.