The adult clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is prepared to work directly with patients, family and other nurses to improve care. They also act as change agents to improve care across a system.
CNSs most often work in hospitals but are employed in a variety of teaching roles as well. They also can work in primary care practices and in wellness clinics. In hospitals they may give direct patient care, assess the quality of care compared to national standards, educate and mentor other nurses to improve care and use evidence-based research to change practice.
To identify the need for change, they gather data. If a change in practice is needed, they design and implement interventions and then gather data to evaluate the outcomes. They collaborate with all members of the health care team to help patients transition to a healthier state and to decrease the iatrogenic effects of health care, such as nosocomial infections.
By helping design and implement these projects, they can show the improvement in care and cost savings associated with changes in practice.
Martha Biddle, PhD, RN, APRN-CCNS, FAHA, UKHC Cardiology