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Clinical Nurse Specialist: Three Ways to Find a Job That’s a Great Fit

Posted on November 17, 2017   |   by   |   Job Seekers, New Grads, Work Environment

Clinical Nurse Specialists provide the education and training hospitals need to reach their quality, safety, and patient satisfaction goals. If you’re a CNS, career opportunities abound! Here’s how to choose the CNS job that’s a right fit for you.

Clinical Nurse Specialist jobs are usually unit-based, and most hiring managers want candidates with at least three years of related clinical experience. Currently, job openings across the country outnumber the Clinical Nurse Specialists available to fill them. That’s why more and more hospitals are encouraging skilled nurses to go back to school and step up to this exciting Advanced Practice Career.

Whether you’re currently a Clinical Nurse Specialist or are considering pursuing a CNS career, our tips can help you chart a course to a satisfying work life.

  1. Ask About the Clinical Nurse Specialist Role

The CNS role varies from hospital to hospital. Even within the CNS community, the role is defined in different ways. Generally, a CNS is responsible for management, education, research, and quality of patient care. Through research and evidence-based practice, Clinical Nurse Specialists help nurses within their units continually improve their knowledge and skills.

However, in some organizations, Clinical Nurse Specialists have some of the same responsibilities as Nurse Practitioners. This means that a CNS will also see patients, bill for their services, and prescribe medications. Organizations tend to embrace this model because it allows the CNS to be revenue-producing. However, it’s important that the organization is also investing the necessary resources for staff training.

As you’re interviewing for a Clinical Nurse Specialist job, ask questions about how the role will be structured, and its main managerial and clinical responsibilities.

  1. Learn How the Organization Evaluates Success

As we’ve mentioned, the CNS role can vary significantly from one organization to another. That’s why you want to have clarity on the job before you accept it. Try to sit down with the manager and director of the department you’re interviewing for. Because they work within the unit each day, these managers will be able to paint a picture of how they see the Clinical Nurse Specialist working effectively.

One of the biggest challenges of being a CNS is that you can have responsibility without authority. Even if you’re not in a supervisory role, you set standards and hold staff accountable for meeting educational objectives. In our experience, Clinical Nurse Specialists are more likely to practice to the full scope of their training if they have the support of a nurse educator in the unit. The educator manages onboarding, licensing, training, and credentialing, allowing the CNS to focus on improving patient outcomes and quality of care.

Another resource to look for is a “clinical ladder” within the unit. This system will allow you to engage nurses to help deliver education and training, freeing you up to oversee the quantity and quality of training that’s provided, including hands-on training and simulations.

Like any job, a CNS position requires the right resources, the right reporting structure, and the right role definition. These are things to evaluate to the best of your ability before accepting a job offer.

  1. Make Sure the CNS Job Has a Good Support Structure

A supportive work environment is important for new Clinical Nurse Specialists, so make sure your prospective employer has an orientation program. Even though you’ve earned your certifications and have a nursing background in a similar unit, it takes time to acclimate to a new environment and a new role. With experience, you will gain influence and learn to educate nurses who might have previously been your peers. A good orientation will help you access resources and materials, set clear expectations for what your role is, and allow for regular meetings with managers, physicians, and directors to help align your role with their priorities.

During the interview, ask about the orientation program, and what is provided for continuing education and professional development. The right employer will invest in your development, knowing they succeed when you succeed.

We Can Help You Find Your Dream Job

I hope this information helps you choose a CNS job that will keep you challenged and satisfied well into the future. If you’d like help with your job search, create your free Melnic Profile. Or, send me an email at jill@melnic.com.  We never charge a fee for candidates to work with us.

This Week’s Top Clinical Nurse Specialist Jobs

Our Melnic jobs board has CNS positions at some of the country’s leading hospitals. If you are considering a change, take a look at some of these great job openings!

  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California has a CNS position in neurology. Work for this premier healthcare center on the West Coast, caring for patients with complex neurology conditions ranging from head injuries to genetic or neuromuscular disorders.
  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital also has an opportunity for a CNS in labor and delivery. The hospital is looking for a strong clinician with assessment skills to coach mothers, monitor patients, and assist doctors during uncomplicated and complex deliveries.
  • In San Diego, a CNS position is available in the PICU at Rady Children’s Hospital. Provide complex life support and monitoring for critically ill and injured children with this leading hospital.
  • Children’s Hospital of Minnesota has an opening in Minneapolis for a CNS in Hematology/Oncology. Provide outstanding clinical care for infants, children, teens and young adults receiving treatment for cancer and non-malignant blood diseases.
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center has a full-time, Monday-Friday, CNS Inpatient and outpatient role.  Address a wide range of mental health needs, and work to diagnose, treat and prevent emotional and behavioral problems for patients from infancy through age 18.

Review our list of Clinical Nurse Specialist jobs, then contact us today!


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