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What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

Date of Posting: 05-10-2010
A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) can be a unit manager, which means he or she is in charge of their nursing unit or can be an educator and teach courses and train new nurses.  They can specialise in a particular field of nursing or they can be a clinical research nurse, specialising in undertaking research.

A clinical nurse specialist may find it useful to be a psychiatric qualified nurse, as they will be dealing with patients who have experienced major trauma.  The duties of a clinical nurse specialist include observing patients, assessing them for treatment, giving patients the required medical treatment and evaluating whether the treatment was successful or not.

Family liaison duties are also included, where the clinical nurse specialist deals with both the patient and the patient’s family, explaining
what kind of treatment the patient is undergoing and dealing with any problems or issues that affect the patient.  A clinical nurse specialist may also need to liaise with other health providers to ensure the patient gets the best possible treatment and care.

A clinical nurse specialist can also mentor and educate trainee nurses and new staff members, offering them guidance when needed.  Great judgement and leadership skills are required of a clinical nurse specialist so the patients receive the best medical care possible and the staff members under him or her are inspired to do their best.

A clinical research nurse undertakes research on their own or can be part of a team carrying out research on behalf of a hospital.  It’s the clinical research nurse’s job to keep up with current and emerging trends in the health care field so the hospital he or she works for isn’t at a disadvantage.

It’s important that a clinical research nurse is interested in recognising problems that they come across in normal treatment practises.  He or she must be good at communicating with others and be creative and resourceful as these traits will be very useful when undertaking research.

Other duties include organising a study, screening the patients and carrying out the treatment on the patients in the study.  It’s also important that the clinical research nurse can obtain research funding to continue the study.

To become a clinical research nurse, you must first be a registered nurse.  To get started in this field, you may be able to find an entry level job as a research assistant, where the duties may be collating and encoding data and where you will be supervised.

Once you have experience as a research assistant, you will be able to apply for higher positions and one day become a fully fledged clinical research nurse.

As you can see, there are quite a few options available for a clinical nurse.  Whether you’d like to be in charge of a nursing unit, become an educator and impart your knowledge to others, become a clinical nurse specialist or immerse yourself in research as a clinical research nurse, the career options are endless!
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