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NACNS Board of Directors Endorses Cutting-Edge Clinical Nurse Specialist Education Criteria

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) Board of Directors endorsed the Criteria for the Evaluation of Clinical Nurse Specialist Master’s, Practice Doctorate, and Post-Graduate Certificate Educational Programs on January 13, 2012. This document is the product of a multi-year project convened by a Validation Panel of stakeholders from more than 20 professional nursing organizations. NACNS was pleased to serve as the guide for this process.

This two-year process began with a NACNS Board-appointed Task Force of experts that developed the initial document (referred to as Guidelines). The NACNS Board then appointed the Validation Panel comprised of stakeholders and association leaders to provide input and validation and to revise the initial Guidelines as needed.

“The work of the Validation Panel was critical to the success of this project. We are pleased that consensus was reached and that the Validation Panel’s work is reflected fully in the final document,” stated Stephen Patten MSN, RN, CNS, CNOR, NACNS President. “As part of their work, members of the Validation Panel reviewed the Guidelines that had been developed by the Task Force (2009), as well as the national CNS Competency Task Force Report (NACNS, 2008), which included Clinical Nurse Specialist Core Competencies. These documents are available on the NACNS Web site at”

The document created by the Validation Panel was posted for public comment. This feedback was then reviewed by the Validation Panel. The document endorsed by the NACNS Board of Directors is this final document that has been edited to include comments received from the public comment period and given final review by the Validation Panel. A copy of this final document is available on the NACNS Web site at

This project adapted a previously-validated consensus-building process (US Department of Health and Human Service, 2002) that was initially developed in consultation with a nationally-recognized expert in higher education assessment and used to develop and validate national consensus-based primary care nurse practitioner competencies in five specialty areas (APRN Consensus Work Group, 2008).

Mr. Patten speaking on behalf of the NACNS Board noted that “this exceptional document will serve as a guide to schools of nursing, creditors, educators and clinical nurse specialist students. The education criteria will provide a foundation for clinical nurse specialist education to meet the present and future healthcare demands of the nation.”

NACNS is continuing its role as facilitator of this process by soliciting endorsement from other nursing and healthcare-related organizations. Organizations wishing to endorse this document can send a letter expressing their interest in endorsement to NACNS. Endorsement letters should be received by April 13, 2012.

NACNS will be featuring a session at the NACNS 2012 Annual Conference to be held at the Fairmont Hotel – Millennium Park in Chicago, IL on March 8-10, 2012. The specific session will be held as a General Session on March 9th from 9:00 am – 10:15 am, titled “CNS Education Standards.” The speaker for this session will be Theresa M. Valiga, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN.

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