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.