Press Room

Ask Mitzi Anything: Professional Development, Trends, and Advocacy for the Clinical Nurse Specialist 

In this quarter’s edition, explore how NACNS aids in professional development, tackles challenges in the clinical nurse specialist role, and discover resources for staying updated on healthcare advancements and advocacy efforts at the state and national levels.

1. How does NACNS support the professional development of clinical nurse specialists?

We make this a priority at NACNS by using a variety of strategies. Our many committees are constantly working on toolkits to aid in such development. For example, our Professional Development Committee is currently working on coding and billing toolkits. Our Research, EBP and Scholarship Committee is working to update the CNS Outcomes White Paper, and our Leg/Reg Committee just completed an Executive Summary on CNS Title Protection that CNSs can use in their worksites and HR departments.

We also host many learning activities throughout the year, such as our Annual Conference. We put in countless hours to host an extraordinary event for CNSs and always at a reduced discount for our members to attend and receive plenty of professional development opportunities.

We also feature webinars and courses currently hosted on our website. We will continue to explore new ways to meet our members’ professional needs and hope to bring back a consistent webinar series, much like we had in the pre-COVID years.

Our level of opportunities for volunteerism and leadership positions in NACNS is also noteworthy. Being involved as a volunteer is one of the most important ways to grow professionally. 

2. Can you share insights on the current trends and challenges in the field of clinical nurse specialist practice?

A current trend in the CNS practice is a movement towards more CNSs gaining prescriptive privileges and/or authority. CNSs need to function at the full scope of practice and be writing orders as needed at the point of care to make the biggest impact and show CNS value in direct care.

One challenge CNSs are facing is the barriers to the full scope of practice imposed by healthcare systems, i.e., professional inequity towards CNSs. Other challenges are when CNSs focus too little on the direct care role, moving them further and further away from patient care and having more difficulty showing value as APRNs.

3. What resources or initiatives does NACNS provide to help CNS professionals stay updated on the latest advancements in healthcare?

I think attending our conference in person or virtually is one of the best ways to stay updated. I think the networking opportunities among members are another excellent and underutilized resource. Here at NACNS, we have a wealth of expertise, and I know CNSs are willing to share their expertise with others. I think being on committees as a volunteer or a taskforce to meet others is also an invaluable opportunity for networking and creating new partnerships among CNSs.

4. How does NACNS advocate for the role of clinical nurse specialists at both the state and national levels? 

There is a saying: “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” Your membership dollars help us to stay at the table. We are currently on major APRN groups and attending major conferences of importance to make sure the CNS role is visible. We just started that practice a year ago and want to continue it.

We are also focused on growing enrollments in CNS programs and public awareness of the role. We are now having booths at conferences we know can attract nurses to the role, like the National Student Nurses Association’s annual conference. We just launched a new user-friendly and updated CNS Program Directory to facilitate getting interested nurses in the role in front of program directors faster. We also started a new CNS Program Directors Council this year so NACNS can better support our CNS programs to grow the numbers of CNSs.

Position statements are also important. We work hard on them every year to help CNSs in practice advocacy efforts. We recently passed the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Full Practice Authority position statement and the Title Protection for CNSs PositionStatement will be available for public comment in early 2024.

These are just a few of the many, many activities NACNS does to support CNS practice nationwide. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on all the exciting things we are up to!

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