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Clinical Nurse Specialist

Nursing and Nursing Support Section

A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is a registered nurse who has a master's or doctoral degree in a nursing clinical specialty area or master's degree in nursing and has successfully completed a graduate-level clinical nurse specialist education program.

CNSs have a masters or doctoral degree.   They must have passed an approved national certification examination, or if such an examination is not available, may meet an alternative method of competency assessment as determined by the Board of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

CNS practice includes health promotion, health supervision, illness prevention, and disease management, including assessing patients, synthesizing and analyzing data, and applying advanced nursing practice.   A CNS conducts and applies research, advocates, serves as an agent of change, engages in systems management, and assesses and intervenes in complex health care problems within the selected clinical specialty.

Requirements for licensure include evidence that the applicant holds a master’s or doctoral degree in a nursing clinical specialty and evidence of passage of a board approved certification examination.  

No one may use the title Clinical Nurse Specialist or the abbreviation CNS unless they hold a Clinical Nurse Specialist license issued by the Department.

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