2014 CNS Census

First National Census of Clinical Nurse Specialists Provides Insights into Education Levels, Employment, Practice Specialties and More

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) conducted its last national sample survey of the nurse workforce in 2008. Historically, policy-makers, health care leaders and others used the data from the survey to inform a range of health care policies and practices.  To ensure this data is still captured, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) and several other several national nursing organizations worked to gather this critical information.  NACNS conducted the first-ever a national online survey of clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) from June 1 to December 31, 2014.

Among the key findings are that CNSs tend to be concentrated in adult care or gerontology, work in hospitals that have or are seeking magnet status, and are responsible for two or more units in a hospital. The vast majority of CNSs (85 percent) work full-time and 66 percent work in hospital settings. Of those, 44 percent have responsibility across the entire hospital system.

As a group, CNSs spend most of their time providing direct patient care (25 percent), consulting with nurses, staff and others (20 percent), teaching nurses and staff (19 percent) and leading evidence-based practice projects (14 percent).

The survey results also reveal issues that need to be addressed to allow CNSs to fully fill their role as advanced practice nurses who provide care to patients and ensure high quality, evidence-based, patient centered-care, such as prescriptive authority. According to the survey findings, only about a quarter of CNSs are authorized to prescribe medications.

NACNS’s online survey was completed by 3,370 nurses who had completed or were enrolled in a CNS education program. It is intended to provide a baseline understanding of the role of the CNS and how they are meeting the health care needs of the nation. NACNS will conduct the survey every two years.

First National Census of Clinical Nurse Specialists Provides Insights into Education Levels, Employment, Practice Specialties and More (PDF)

NACNS CNS Census Key Findings (PDF)

NACNS SURVEY spread 1b

NACNS SURVEY spread 1b