Clinical nurse leaders (CNLs) oversee and coordinate the plan of care for a group of patients. It is the first new role in nursing in over 35 years. CNLs focus on improving the quality and safety of care, but are called upon to provide direct patient care in complex situations. They collect and evaluate patient outcomes, assess risk and ensure patients benefit from the latest innovations in healthcare delivery. CNLs also have the authority to change care plans when necessary.
Clinical nurse leaders are part of an interprofessional team of physicians, pharmacists, social workers, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. They can work in any healthcare setting, but are mainly found in hospitals. Because CNLs oversee the patients' plans of care, they are needed around the clock so work schedules and hours vary.
CNLs hold a master’s degree from an accredited clinical nurse leader program. Admission to most programs requires a bachelor’s of science in nursing and at least two years experience as a registered nurse.
Licensure and Certification
Clinical nurse leaders must be certified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in order to practice. Licensure as a registered nurse, graduation from a CNL master’s program and a passing score on the certification exam are required to receive credentials.
Career Outlook Map of Iowa
Since clinical nurse leader is such a new profession, there is little workforce data. But nurse leaders are registered nurses and the outlook for them is excellent. Nursing is one of the most in-demand healthcare professions and the United States is currently facing a shortage of registered nurses.