Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are registered nurses, who have graduate level nursing preparation at the master's or doctoral level as a CNS. They are clinical experts in evidence-based nursing practice within a specialty area, treating and managing the health concerns of patients and populations. The CNS specialty may be focused on individuals, populations, settings, type of care, type of problem, or diagnostic systems subspecialty. CNSs practice autonomously and integrate knowledge of disease and medical treatments into assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients' illnesses. These nurses design, implement, and evaluate both patient-specific and population-based programs of care.
CNSs provide leadership in advancing the practice of nursing to achieve quality and cost effective patient outcomes as well as provide leadership of multidisciplinary groups in designing and implementing innovative alternative solutions that address system problems and/or patient care issues. CNSs as direct care providers, perform comprehensive health assessments and develop differential diagnoses, CNSs serve as patient advocates, consultants, and researchers in various settings.
American Nurses Association. (2004). Nursing: Scope & standards of practice. Washington, DC: American Nurses Association, p. 15.