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College of Nursing

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Clinical Nurse Specialist FAQs

What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)?

  • CNS is one of the four types of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), alongside certified nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse practitioners.
  • CNSs can prescribe and bill for services according to Medicare laws and rules, with state laws varying.
  • CNSs work in various healthcare settings, including acute care, outpatient/ambulatory settings, home health care, or as consultants/entrepreneurs.
  • They operate within three spheres of impact: patient care, nursing practice improvement, and organizational/systems improvement.
  • The demand for CNSs has been increasing and is expected to continue growing.
  • CNSs ensure high-quality care through evidence-based practice, quality improvement and research within the following three spheres of impact:

1) Patient Direct Care: Providing specialized care to patients and assisting other nurses.

2) Nurses and Nursing Practice: Serving as clinical experts and mentors for other nurses.

3) Organizations/Systems: Working with interdisciplinary teams to improve organizational processes.


Why become a CNS?

If you are committed to improving nursing practice, advocating for patients and nurses, addressing workplace issues proactively, and collaborating, you have the qualities to become a CNS.


Admission to the BSN to DNP Programs requirements are:

We conduct a holistic review of every application submitted to the program. Among items considered are your academic ability, personal statement, letters of recommendation, resume, and interview.


A complete list of application requirements can be found at


Applications for the MSN, DNP, and Post-Master’s DNP pathways (fall start) are accepted on a rolling basis each year from August 1st to April 1st. Applicants are encouraged to apply early.


Applications for the Post-Graduate Certificate program (spring start) are accepted on a rolling basis from August 1st to October 1st each year.


All students who meet our eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply.


Do students need to come to campus?

We require an on-campus orientation in August before starting the program. All courses in the program are in an online format.


Are any clinical courses required?

Clinical hours are part of the CNS didactic course. The program director and the placement coordinator will help you find a clinical site. You will have a board-certified CNS as your preceptor.