Press Room

Clinical Nurse Specialists Are Uniquely Prepared to Manage Patients with Chronic Conditions

New Report Highlights Implications for Policy, CNS Education and Practice

Philadelphia, Pa. – Today more patients than ever are living longer and managing chronic health conditions in their day to day lives. Health costs associated with chronic conditions are skyrocketing and managing patients with chronic conditions requires an understanding of not only the disease process but also self-care actions. The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists commissioned a task force to consider the impact clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) can have on managing patients with chronic conditions. The task force’s report, Addressing the Needs of Patients with Chronic Conditions: The Role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist, finds that CNSs are uniquely prepared to manage patients with chronic conditions, lead collaboration within and across health care settings and serve as the bridge between disciplines.

Clinical nurse specialists are one of the four types of advanced practice registered nurses and they have graduate preparation (master’s or doctorate) in nursing. Their scope of practice can range from working in wellness to illness and chronic to acute care. Unlike other primary care providers who have expertise in a wide-range of primary care conditions, CNSs have in-depth knowledge of a specific clinical condition or patient population.

The educational preparation for, the required competencies and spheres of influence that guide, and the research that validates the CNS model of care favor the CNS role as one that is uniquely prepared to provide, coordinate and manage care for patients with chronic co-morbid conditions across health care settings.

“Clinical nurse specialists’ provides cost-effective, high-quality service to patients with chronic conditions as they move across the wellness spectrum,” said NACNS President Vince Holly, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC. “The Chronic Conditions Task Force’s report finds that the overlapping CNS spheres of influence affecting the patient, nursing practice and broader system are key elements of the strategic approach CNSs use to effectively manage patients with chronic conditions and reduce costs for the health care system. An advanced skill set and high level of knowledge is required to care for these patients, and clinical nurse specialists are well positioned to tackle this challenge.”

Before drafting the report, the NACNS Chronic Conditions Task Force completed an extensive literature review, solicited input from the expertise of CNSs from across the United States, received feedback at national conference forums and conducted a comprehensive examination of related definitions and concepts. It includes information on the legislative and policy implications of CNSs taking a larger role in chronic care management, a discussion of how the spheres of influence impact management and care coordination, issues for CNS practice and education and recommendations.

The members of the 2015-2017 NACNS Chronic Conditions Task Force and authors of Addressing the Needs of Patients with Chronic Conditions: The Role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist are:

  • Chair: Mary P. Hansen, MN, RN, CNS, CCNS, CCRN, PCCN;
  • Lori A. Dambaugh, DNP, CNS, RN;
  • Judy K. Dusek, DNP, M.Ed., MSN, APRN-CNS, CMSRN, ACNS-BC;
  • Cynthia Kollauf, MS, RN, ACNS-BC;
  • Renee Martin, MN, RN, PHCNS-BC, CGRN;
  • Renada Rochon, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC
  • Ludmila Maria Santiago-Rotchford, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, PCCN
  • Mitzi M. Saunders, RN, PhD, ACNS-BC;
  • Jane Swartz, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC; and
  • Julia Senn-Reeves, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, CCNS, CCRN.

Download Addressing the Needs of Patients with Chronic Conditions: The Role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist here. After 30 days there is a download fee of $10 for NACNS members and $25 for non-members.

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Founded in 1995, The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists is the only association representing the clinical nurse specialist (CNS). CNSs are advanced practice registered nurses who work in a variety of specialties to ensure high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered care. As leaders in health care settings, CNSs provide direct patient care and lead initiatives to improve care and clinical outcomes, and reduce costs. NACNS is dedicated to advancing CNS practice and education, removing certification and regulatory barriers, and assuring the public access to quality CNS services.

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