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Ask Mitzi Anything: How to Become a CNS & More

Hello readers! Our Ask Phee Phee blog series has now transitioned to the Ask Mitzi Anything series with the recent election of Mitzi Saunders, Ph.D., APRN, ACNS-BC, to president. This edition read on to hear Mitzi discuss CNS specialty roles, how to become a CNS and more. 

Q: Is there a CNS palliative care role that exists? What would that job description look like and how do I build the business case for it? 

Yes! There is a specialty CNS role for everything. You could build the case by having nursing experience in working with patients in symptom management and quality of life, and by having a passion and seeing the need for change that would improved patients’ lives. You could build the case by showing a gap in services that you could fill. You could make the case for prescription too by showing how you would fill gaps in patient care. It is all about access to care and improving patient and family outcomes.  

A job description would have you in the patient/family care role everyday consulting on patients through a palliative care consult system, ideally. Then, you would meet directly with patients and families meeting their needs. It would be best to have privileges to prescribe cares, so teaming up with a physician or two would be best. Then, you provide the other two spheres in your job description with nursing support to carry out the treatment plan and time for system level improvement too when you see inefficiencies in meeting the needs of patients with palliative care needs. The three spheres should be in your job description but the most important is the patient sphere and having a caseload of patients you see everyday. Be careful to record your outcomes for a quarterly report to the CNO. 

Q: I am a certified pediatric nurse practitioner by licence and certified pediatric hematology oncology nurse and have been working as a pediatric hematology/oncology CNS for the past 12 years. My institution is hoping to apply for magnet and is requesting that I have official CNS certification. Can you advise the best route for me to take? 

You will need a post-graduate certificate from a pediatric CNS program. You would likely transfer in two of the three Ps and maybe all 3 depending on the program (the three Ps are advanced physical assessment, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology). Then, you would take the pediatric CNS courses and 500 clinical hours. I know that sounds tough as you are already in the role, but it would be over in three semesters at best (that is the case for my program but it is an adult-gero post grad certificate). Check out our CNS directory for a program. Lynn Mohr would also be an excellent resource; she has a pediatric program in Chicago and would be happy to help you.

Q: Does NACNS not recognize me as a CNS, since I do not have the three Ps? I graduated from an accredited CNS (MSN) program in 2009. I graduated with a DNP in 2017. 

Yes, you are a CNS. Having the three Ps will be necessary if you are seeking prescriptive authority or privileges to prescribe; but, yes, you are definitely a CNS. 

Q: I hold an MSN in Nursing Education and I am a board certified Advance Diabetes Manager. What are your recommendations for obtaining CNS licensure?

You will need to obtain a post-graduate certificate from one of our very fine programs for post-grad certificate CNSs. But, do check your state board of nursing rules on CNS licensure. Most states protect the title, but a few do not. 

For more information, feel free to reach out to Mitzi at (734) 355-2792. 

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