Identify the educational preparation and role(s) of the clinical nurse leader (CNL)
designation. Give an example of how the CNL influences direct patient care whether in
a hospital or out in the community.
Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)
CNL is a new concept in the medical field; CNL is designed in developing highly
skilled nurses to gain leadership skills in delivering safe and quality outcomes for patient
populations and in individual patients. CNL is part of registered nurses; nurses are required to
have a Science of Nursing Master’s Degree.
The Nurses must have successfully completed the coursework in advanced nursing.
CNL must successfully complete pharmacology, pathophysiology, epidemiology, clinical
assessment, healthcare systems leadership, finance management and clinical informatics
(King & Gerard, 2012).
CNL is influential in the healthcare facilities; CNLs assess health risks, coordinate
patient care, fosters team communication, develops quality strategies for improvement and
encourages implementation of evidence based solutions (Harris & Roussel, 2009). Complex
patient care in the community and the hospitals are facilitated through coordination of the
CNLs and clinical nurse specialists (King & Gerard, 2012).
The roles of CNLs are unique considering that CNLs can function in diverse health
care setting in the community, in-patient care and home health. In-patient care is connected to
medical-surgical units, critical care and in telemetry patient care among others (Harris &
Roussel, 2009). AACN (The American Association of the Colleges of Nursing) updates and
revises the curriculum development, competencies and clinical experiences required in each
graduate with a Master’s education program, in CNL.
CLINICAL NURSE LEADER (CNL) 2
CNLs are certified by the CNC (The Commission of Nurse Certification). CNC is part
of the AACN. The body certifies CNLs. The roles of CNLs have been changing as a way of
addressing medical errors reported by the IOM (Institute of Medicine) (King & Gerard,
The roles of CNLs are designed by the nurse executives, AACN and nurse educators
among other stakeholders. Each CNL must have successfully completed the set standards in
making sure that all CNLs are competent in handling the complex health care environment.
CLINICAL NURSE LEADER (CNL) 3
Harris, J. & Roussel, L. (2009). Initiating And Sustaining The Clinical Nurse Leader Role: A
Practical Guide. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
King, C. & Gerard, S. (2012). Clinical Nurse Leader Certification Review. New York:
Springer Publishing Company.