What is a Clinical Nurse Leader sm ?.
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The Clinical Nurse Leader is an advanced generalist with master’s-level preparation in nursing. This is an emerging nursing role developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in collaboration with an array of leaders from the practice environment. The CNL role emerged following several years of research and discussion with stakeholders as a way to engage highly skilled clinicians in outcomes-based practice and quality improvement strategies.
The CNL role is not one of administration or management. The CNL is a leader in the health care delivery system in all settings in which health care is delivered, not just the acute care setting.
The CNL and APRN roles complement one another.
Example: the CNL may call on the CNS to provide consultation when a specialist area of concern arises (i.e. when a patient does not respond to nursing care or therapeutics as expected).
AACN, in consultation with a leading group of CNSs, has developed a document, The CNL-CNS Roles: Similarities, Differences and Complementarities that can be downloaded on the AACN web site at:
Eligible candidates are graduates of a CNL or advanced generalist master’s degree program or post-master’s certificate in nursing that meets the criteria delineated in the CNL Curriculum Framework and prepares individuals with the competencies identified in AACN’s white paper on The Education and Role of the Clinical Nurse Leader (2007).
Schools of nursing with CNL programs have established formal partnerships with one or more local clinical sites to ensure that CNL students have a professional preceptor experience
The CNL initiative now includes over 90 partnerships across the country between the education and practice settings.
Currently there are 90 schools and over 190 practice partners formally partnering and participating in the CNL initiative.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has played
a pivotal role in the development and
implementation of the CNL role:
CNL DVD Produced by the VA
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
Joan Stanley, PhD, RN, FAAN, CRNP, CNL
Senior Director of Education Policy
firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-463-6930
Commission on Nurse Certification
Tracy Lofty, MSA, CAE
email@example.com or 202-463-6930