Press Room

National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Releases Census Results

Data Shows Robust Growth With Pivot Toward New Practice Areas

RESTON, VA – May 6, 2021 – There is a trend showing a pivoting of clinical nurse specialists toward a further expansion of practice areas according to the results of The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) 2020 Census of the CNS profession released today.

An infographic based on the census data called “The Role of the CNS: Findings from the 2020 Census” shows a resurgence of the profession with CNSs working in a wide variety of practices including adult health/gerontology acute care or ambulatory care settings as well as growing practices in family, mental and women’s health. The NACNS 2020 census was sponsored by AACN Certification Corporation and Cardinal Health.

NACNS is the national organization for the 89,000 Clinical Nurse Specialists in the United States (CNS) and dedicated to advancing the practice and education of CNSs. An infographic of 2020 census results is available here.

“The data demonstrates that CNSs’ roles and responsibilities are broadening and becoming more robust,” said Lola Coke, PhD, ACNS-BC, FAHA, FPCNA, FNAP, FAAN, Census 2020 project lead and associate professor and clinical nurse specialist, acting dean, Kirkhof College of Nursing, Grand Valley State University.  “The trend is a pivoting to an expanding CNS practice beyond adult health/gerontology and pediatrics to areas such as family health, psychiatric /mental health, women’s health /gender specific and neonatal. CNSs’ responsibilities continue to range from providing direct care, managing care, leading research to nurse/patient/family education in the hospital or health system setting.”

NACNS surveys CNSs every other year collecting demographic and professional data.  Almost 3,000 CNSs responded to the 2020 survey.  CNSs are advanced practice registered nurses who have graduate preparation (Master’s or Doctorate) in nursing. Like other advanced practice registered nurses, they are trained in physiology, pharmacology and physical assessment in addition to their particular specialty areas.

What’s The Typical CNS?

According to the 2020 census, one of the 89,000 CNSs that work in the United States typically could, on average, have the following attributes:

  • Works in adult health/gerontology or pediatrics
  • Involved in direct patient care, education and/or research
  • Works fulltime in hospitals and/or health system-wide
  • $100,000 year salary
  • Master’s of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree
  • Over 80% white and female

About The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) 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 as well as 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. For more information or to join NACNS click here

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