Who is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?
A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an Advanced Practice Nursing course that intends to prepare student nurses for patient care, diagnosis and treatment practices aimed at improving the health of patients. These type of nurses are advanced practitioners who work with other staff nurses as well as doctors to excel in providing patient care and treating diseases. There are three spheres of influence that every nurse is trained in: patient/family, system organization and nursing care. The clinical nurse specialist role is to enhance all three in order to optimize patient care. To prepare a CNS for this challenging task, there are masters and doctorate degrees training programs, offered in various universities and nursing colleges.
The Job Description of a Clinical Nurse Specialist
A clinical nurse specialist must play an important role in each of the spheres of influence. He/she should be involved in provision of nursing care, in educating patients and their families, as well as in the organization of the healthcare system to ensure smooth service delivery. At all times, the clinical nurse specialist needs to remain focused, calm, cool and collected.
In the first sphere of influence – nursing care, the clinical nurse specialists use their expertise to provide direct nursing care, and evaluate the impact of the clinical care rendered. The CNS will then step into the shoes of an expert coach to provide education and skills to patients and their families, they will also train other staff nurses on new practices and better procedures of administering care to patients. A clinical nurse specialist with strong collaboration skills will bring together focused teams dedicated to optimizing patient care. At the place of work they will also play a part in medical consultancy, since consultation is a vital step in the decision-making process.
A clinical nurse specialist is also trained as a researcher. Through collaboration and relevant research skills, they participate actively in research work. In addition, clinical and professional leadership skills gained during training, aim at providing organized and timely care to patients through authoritative decision-making and implementation of ideas. Clinical nurse specialists are also well versed in the area of ethical decision making, which involves making the right decisions in the toughest of ethical dilemmas.
Clinical Nurse Specialist on the Job
Unlike traditional RN (registered nurses) and according to the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, a clinical nurse specialist is trained and certified to do more than just care for patients by (where possible) preventing and treating diseases under the supervision of a doctor. At the same time, the CNS is trained to diagnose and offer treatment to some ailments, conditions, disabilities and injuries without the express supervision of doctors. They also work one on one with the patient, and other registered nurses who consult and seek their help when needed. The clinical nurse specialist role is primarily optimizing and improving the healthcare system to the benefit of everyone involved.