Association of Colleges of Nursing

First, knowing what a
CNL does is important to know why they need to meet certain requirements. The
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) describes the role as “a
point-of-care leadership and provides care in situation of particular
complexity” (Point-of-Care, n.d.). A CNL is someone that “identifies ways to
improve the quality of patient care by consistently evaluating patient outcomes,
assessing cohort risk, changing care plans, advocating for change and mentoring
fellow nurses” (Clinical Nurse Leader, n.d.). Other responsibilities of a CNL is
to provide care coordination for patients with complex needs, implementing evidence-based
practice, instituting quality improvement measurements, and coordinating
lateral interdisciplinary care that includes disciplines as diverse as
occupational and physical therapy (Point-of-Care, n.d.). In order to fulfill these
job requirements, one must possess strong problem solving and critical thinking
skills, the desire to work closely with patients, and the willingness to mentor
fellow nurses (Clinical Nurse Leader, n.d.). Academically, the CNL must also
earn a minimum of an Master’s of Science degree in Nursing (MSN) in the
Clinical Nurse Leader program as well as taking and passing the CNL certification
from the Commission on Nurse Certification.

A CNL’s role or influence
in patient care is through implementing and ensuring that care delivery is
safe, evidence-based, and targeted towards optimal quality outcomes (Reid &
Dennison, 2011). The intent of the new implementation of a CNL is to promote patient
safety but also to incorporate the CNL’s focus on safety and to provide
front-line care instead of being in a back hall, disconnected from the eyes and
ears of the medical staff.

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