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Sustaining Excellence: Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice and Magnet Designation

MULLER, ANNE C. MSN, RN, ACNS-BC; HUJCS, MARIANNE MSN, RN, CCNS; DUBENDORF, PHYLLIS MSN, RN, CNRN, CCNS; HARRINGTON, PAUL T. MSN, MBA, RN, NE-BC

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e3181effe0f
Feature Articles

Clinical nurse specialist practice is essential in providing the clinical expertise, leadership, and organizational influence necessary for attaining the excellence in care reflected by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Magnet designation. Clinical nurse specialists, prepared as advanced practice nurses, bring clinical expertise, knowledge of advanced physiology, and pathology and a system-wide vision for process improvements. This unique curriculum specifically prepares clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) to immediately practice as leaders of interdisciplinary groups to improve outcomes. Clinical nurse specialist graduates possess an understanding of complex adaptive systems theory, advanced physical assessment, and pathophysiology and knowledge of optimal learning modalities, all applicable to improving the health care environment. Their practice specifically links complex clinical data with multidisciplinary partnering and understanding of organizational systems. The basis for optimal clinical practice change and sustained process improvement, foundational to Magnet designation, is grounded in the combined educational preparation and systems impact of CNS practice. This article describes the role of the CNS in achieving and sustaining Magnet designation in an urban, academic quaternary care center. Using the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists model of spheres of influence, focus is on the CNS's contribution to improving clinical outcomes, nurse satisfaction, and patient satisfaction. Exemplars demonstrating use of a champion model to implement practice improvement and rapid adoption of optimal practice guidelines are provided. These exemplars reflect improved and sustained patient care outcomes, and implementation strategies used to achieve these improvements are discussed.

Author Affiliations: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Ms Muller); Neurointensive Care Unit (Ms Hujcs), Intermediate and General Care Neuroscience (Ms Dubendorf), and Surgical Nursing (Mr Harrington), Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Correspondence: Anne C. Muller, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 626 Summit Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19128 (Anne.muller@uphs.upenn.edu).

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.