Category: Ask Phee Phee Anything


Ask Phee Phee: Keeping CNSs in Education

Happy August to all my Ask Phee Phee readers! I hope it has been a summer full of advocacy, and, getting outside to do something fun (for me, it’s been getting out on my husband’s Harley motorcycle)!

This month, we’re going to talk about CNS education, and regulations, or lack thereof, surrounding CNS education and the instructors. Check back during CNS week, September 1-7, for more Ask Phee Phee content!

Part of having continuous advocacy for all CNSs includes promoting that education and CNS programs are led by experienced CNSs. 

What are the guidelines for serving as a program director/coordinator in an academic setting? Does NACNS require or recommend that a CNS Program Director or Coordinator be a CNS in an academic setting?

This is an excellent question, and to answer in short, no, there is no requirement that a CNS educator must be a CNS, but NACNS does recommend it. This requirement can vary from state to state, so we recommend you check your state’s programs. 

It’s strongly encouraged that a CNS program has a CNS instructor, but it cannot be mandated. NACNS promotes? CNSs to be in academic settings, and on this, check out page 59 of the Clinical Nurse Specialist Statement on Education and Practice for more information.

Because the CNS role is so specific based on the area of practice, having a more generalized nurse or healthcare professional teaching CNS classes may cause the unique CNS experience to be overlooked. 

This education statement is also being updated from when it was last published in 2019. What is shown is the most recent –but it still needs to be updated. With our task force working diligently on this, it will be updated in 2024!

Can a Ph.D. or RN with a strong medical, surgical, or clinical educator/administrator background serve as a program coordinator in a CNS academic setting? 

Yes, RN and Ph.D. can teach CNS courses, but should they? Ethically this is such a specific role, CNSs need to be teaching CNSs. From a research perspective, having a Ph.D. is great for education. From the clinical perspective, they may not have the right experience. 

There is a shortage of nurses in academic settings, but also specifically clinical nurse specialists. Because we are smaller in numbers, there is already a lack of CNSs in the education field. We don’t want to lose any CNS programs and we are grateful for the nurses who are willing to teach the next generation, but we need to also advocate for programs to keep and hire CNSs in the education field.  

You can find the list of CNS programs around the country here. If there are any CNS programs you know of that are not listed here, please reach out! We want to ensure we have an accurate representation of the CNS programs currently active. If you are interested in starting or expanding a CNS program, let us know! We also have a Graduate Education Committee. Please reach out to questions@nacns.org!


Ask Phee Phee Anything: CNS Legal Issues and Scope of Practice

In case you haven’t heard yet, my name is Phyllis Whitehead, and I am the newly elected NACNS President. Phee Phee was my nickname given to me by my young nieces who couldn’t say Phyllis, and now what my grandchildren call me. So came to be my “ask anything” column. I aim to answer your questions about all things NACNS and keep a transparent dialogue going during my presidency. 

CNSs have a very specific role in the hospital within their specialty. I received a few questions regarding the legal complications surrounding being a CNS, as well as policy and practice. Let’s talk about it.

Are there any current legal complications surrounding CNS?

As with any occupation, there are legal complications with being a CNS. Now more than ever, CNSs must be aware of what is going on in both their country and their state. For example, the RaDonda Vaught case in Tennessee is a prime example of the level of responsibility that clinical nurse specialists have in ensuring best practices, as the best level of care must be given to the patient. CNSs need to be aware of varying legislation from state to state in order to best serve their patients, as well as protecting themselves by following state guidelines. 

On a federal level, the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a substantial issue that impacts women’s’ health. For the CNS members who specialize in this kind of work, finding how they can now best advocate for their patients and practice is a newly evolving matter. With any of these legal scenarios, the primary focus should be ensuring advocacies for all, and to make sure that every patient is aware of what is going on during their care, and that the nurse is safe and protected as well. Anything in the legal world that effects hospitals, also effects clinical nurse specialists. 

What is NACNS doing to advocate for policy changes to allow full practice authority for CNSs? 

NACNS fiercely encourages remaining aware of what is happening state to state, and we are forming affiliates and creating tool kits to better equip our members with information about title protection and how to protect the CNSs full practice authority.

NACNS also is proudly and loudly excited about the volunteerism for committees and task forces, as CNSs are coming together and contributing to the conversation. Remaining aware of the current conversation is super important, and we cannot accurately represent the CNS community if we don’t hear from our members, so we encourage readers to reach out and become members of NACNS. 

What is Phyllis doing to advocate for this issue? 

I am on the Lace Steering Committee for licensing and education about the consensus model – which allows me to be at the table representing CNSs and NACNS. I am constantly advocating for the CNS role and practice. 

For example, NACNS has commissioned a Certification Task Force to explore innovation in addressing CNS specialty certifications such as mental and women’s health. July 14th is the first certification task force meeting, so it is a big date for us. I strongly believe in allowing CNSs to enter meaningful CNS roles in the hospital. 

What do we anticipate in the future for CNS scope of practice?

The future for the CNS scope of practice is promising, as we are working on hearing the CNS voice, getting the NPI numbers up, and showing that we are advanced practice nurses. The CNS affiliates are doing a great job and we want to advocate for them and keep gaining affiliate members to grow NACNS even more. I always say that there should be no CNS left behind, and that NACNS is the only organization specifically dedicated to advocating for CNSs. I will continue to answer your questions to the best of my ability to ensure complete transparency, and that no CNS is left behind. 

Thank you for reading, and until next time! If you are interested in asking Phee Phee a question about anything NACNS or CNS related, please visit our website home page and scroll down to the section to submit a question.  


Ask Phee Phee Anything: NACNS and the Year of Advocacy

Ask Phee PheeIn case you haven’t heard yet, my name is Phyllis Whitehead, and I am the newly elected NACNS President. Phee Phee was my nickname given to me by my young nieces who couldn’t say Phyllis and now my grandchildren call me, and hence the name of this column where you can ask questions about all things NACNS.

One question I’m getting a lot lately is “what’s all this about advocacy and CNSs”.

Q. Why advocacy?

Part of the reason we are focusing on advocacy is because of my third-grade teacher. Mrs. Flora taught the class about nouns and verbs. She called verbs “action words” because they describe some type of activity.

Advocate is both a noun and a verb. That’s exactly what we want to do over the next few years – take action and advocate for our patients, for each other, and for ourselves. I call it “unstoppable advocacy”. Here’s what we plan to do:

First, we plan to advocate for diversity in all its forms. Not just acute care but all areas . . . Primary care/ambulatory care, LTC/subacute, HH/Hospice/Palliative. NACNS is an open, diverse, and inclusive organization.

Second, we will advocate for you:

  • Expand Professional Development Leg/Reg opportunities to promote our scope of practice and competencies
  • Launch the new LMS platform
  • Simplify the path to membership
  • Bridge the gaps between academia and practice
  • Work more closely with affiliates and CNSI

Already Underway

Finally, the CNS story has only begun to be told. It is ever-changing series of successful actions that barely registers with some of our colleagues. Maybe we are talking to the wrong people. Maybe we need to be stronger when delivering our message. Maybe both. This is what advocacy is all about – reaching the right people, at the right time with the right message.

Today, “Clinical Nurse Specialist” is a noun. Let’s make it a verb. Working together we are unstoppable. That’s why we advocate.