Press Room

Ask Mitzi Anything: Exploring the Path to Becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist

In this quarter’s edition, Mitzi gives educational advice to submitters, discussing educational pathways, what types  of master’s degrees are needed to pursue a CNS role, and more.

  1. I’m in the process of pursuing an MSN in Healthcare Systems and Leadership. Can I get a CNS position with this degree?

    No, you cannot. The CNS title is protected and can only be used by those educated in a CNS program. See our official definition on the NACNS website. You will need to get a post-graduate certificate after completion of your program OR better yet, transfer now into a CNS program.

  2. I am a CNS certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric/Mental Health. Can I also treat adults? My training included the adult population as well.

    Yes, but as an RN and not as an APRN. You will be acting out of scope if you proceed as an APRN and act autonomously in the role.

  3. What type of master’s degree should you attain to become a CNS?

    We have three populations: neonatal, pediatric, and adult-gerontology. You can search for all three using our CNS Program Directory on the NACNS website. As long as the degree is in a CNS program, you can use the title and work as a CNS.

  4. I work in a geriatric clinic in Washington State and am in the process of earning my MSN-Ed. Will this degree qualify me for the Adult-Geriatrics CNS Certification?

    No, it will not. You have to either transfer to an Adult-Gero CNS program now or finish and then get a post-graduate certificate as an AG-CNS. See our CNS Program Directory on the NACNS website to find a program. This is a very popular option.

  5. If I have CNS students, can they precept with NPs?

    Yes, they can, as long as the clinical faculty grading and overseeing the student is a CNS who assures the student is meeting the CNS course objectives by doing CNS activities, then that is fine. It is preferred that the NP preceptor have a DNP so they know some about the system’s level work of the CNS. However, if CNSs are available, they should be used always. So using an NP is only in situations where you do not have CNS preceptors. Physicians are also acceptable but again in rare instances.

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