FAQ

FAQ 2017-11-07T07:44:47+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on each question to see the answer.

According to the AACN, a CNL is a nurse with a leadership concentration in their MSN. CNLs play a role in improving patient care and engage with clinicians to make a difference in the current healthcare system.  After earning an MSN with a CNL concentration, or a CNL Post-Master’s certificate, a nurse will have the credential of CNL given by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
As an acting leader of the healthcare delivery setting, the CNL works with a group of healthcare professionals to integrate the latest evidence-based care tactics for a cohort of patients. The CNL works bedside to ensure that each patient is benefiting from treatment and has the authority to make changes where necessary.

There is a demand from healthcare leaders to have someone formally trained in the CNL or a similar program. There is a need for changes

to happen in order to improve patient outcomes, and the AACN believes that the creation of the CNL role will contribute to the improvements in the education and care deliveries of healthcare professionals.  CNLs are experts in promoting critical thinking and innovation to constructively manage and promote a team-based approach to care.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of medical and health leaders is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all other occupations.

While the CNL role is new and direct information is not available, data shows that the CNL role may be a contributing factor.  In 2010, there were 597 total candidates to take the CNL exam, while in 2015 there were 1080 total candidates.  The number of total candidates nearly doubled in five years, which shows the increase in demand.

At least an MSN with a concentration in Clinical Nurse Leadership or a similar program. This is because a CNL needs to be a resource for their nursing team, and the MSN assures that a nurse is clinically competent to do that.  There are also Post-Master’s Certificate programs that will prepare any nurse already carrying an MSN degree for the CNL exam.
To be a CNL, a nurse must have an MSN and be a part of an AACN CNL endorsed program. While this program is not connected to the practice of doctorate in nursing, they both complement each other because one can’t pursue a doctorate education without having a master’s degree first.
No, the CLN position is more advanced and has more responsibilities than a regular BSN. A nurse with a BSN has the ability to work as an RN, and while a CNL does too, the CNL degree is for nurses who want to do more. This role includes overseeing care coordination, providing direct patient care in complex situations, putting evidence-based practice into action, ensuring patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery, evaluating patient outcomes, assessing cohort risks, and having the decision-making authority to change care plans when necessary.
APRN’s responsibilities are clearly defined, and Advanced Practice Nurses are more specialized than CNLs. CNLs do not have a defined area of practice, while APNs do. Together they bring a complementary approach to the nursing practice.
Only students who graduate from a CNL Master’s program or those in their last semester of a CNL program that meets the following AACcriteria are eligible to take the exam. Nurses are required to pass both the CNL Certification Exam and the NCLEX Exam to receive their CNL license.
To take the exam, all students must undergo an application process. Once a verification email is received, the student will be allowed to take the exam.

Interested in an association specific to your state? Check out our State Associations page!

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What education level is required to be a CNL?

You will need at least a MSN with a concentration in Clinical Nurse Leadership or a similar program. This is because a CNL needs to be a resource for their nursing team, and the MSN assures that a nurse is clinically competent to do that.  There are also Post-Master’s Certificate programs that will prepare any nurse already carrying an MSN degree for the CNL exam.

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