Clinical Nurse Specialist  What They Do

Just the Facts


Plans, directs, or coordinates the daily patient care activities in a clinical practice. Ensures adherence to established clinical policies, protocols, regulations, and standards.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Collaborates with other health care professionals and service providers to ensure optimal patient care.
  • Develops or assists others in development of care and treatment plans.
  • Provides consultation to other health care providers in areas such as patient discharge, patient care, or clinical procedures.
  • Develops and maintains departmental policies, procedures, objectives, or patient care standards based on evidence-based practice guidelines or expert opinion.
  • Reads current literature, talks with colleagues, or participates in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in nursing.
  • Evaluates the quality and effectiveness of nursing practice or organizational systems.
  • Develops, implements, or evaluates standards of nursing practice in specialty area such as pediatrics, acute care, and geriatrics.
  • Designs evaluation programs regarding the quality and effectiveness of nursing practice or organizational systems.
  • Plans, evaluates, or modifies treatment programs based on information gathered by observing and interviewing patients, or by analyzing patient records.
  • Directs or supervises nursing care staff in the provision of patient therapy.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Intensive Care Unit Clinical Nurse Specialist --
  • Nurse Clinician --
  • Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist --
  • Board Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist, Diabetes --
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery Clinical Nurse Specialist --
  • Cardiovascular Clinical Nurse Specialist --
  • Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist --
  • Emergency Department Clinical Nurse Specialist --