A CNS is a nurse who has trained to graduate level (degree) and has expertise in a niche area of nursing, known as their specialism. This level of study requires patience, persistence and often involves keeping up to date with peer-reviewed research and practice. These nurses often have a very niche area of care or patient sub-type they consult for, and their practices are rooted in consultation, evidence based decision making and adherence to established clinical practices by approved bodies such as the Royal College of Nursing.
What does a clinical nurse specialist do?
CNS’s are qualified to a level of being a first point of contact for patients in hospital settings, taking medication history, detailed medical histories and are often proficient in diagnosing medical conditions alongside doctors and clinicians. Certain CNS’s have the authority to prescribe medicines and treatments, but focus more on their team of nurses who work under them. Many CNS’s will have expertise in medication systems, titration of cost management in hospital settings and efficient implementation of clinical practice, which are a result of their role in educating staff and keeping up to date with the nursing literature. CNS’s work alongside a team of healthcare providers and stay in touch with the ever changing field of care, ensuring they are dynamic and flexible to changing ideas and practices.
How do they qualify?
Nurses can take conversion courses from MSN or BSN qualifications, all the way to doctoral study. These routes of study allow accreditation in the following area, each with its own subsector of specialities;
Benefits to this career path?
This rewarding sector of nursing is a dynamic, fast paced environment. However, there is also a scope for individuals who work as CNS’s to enjoy educating and implementing care in their area of expertise. Often these nurses graduate in a specific area (neonatal nurse, pain management specialist, gerontological community nurse) and can work in many career settings. Certain nurses who work in areas such as cancer care can obtain grants for further training and qualifications from charities such as Macmillan. The salary is based on experience and further to the level of expertise the nurse has. Progression in this career is attractive, with consulting and management roles in larger private and public sector wards/departments a demanding yet well rewarded role.