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Revisioning a Clinical Nurse Specialist Curriculum in 3 Specialty Tracks

Arslanian-Engoren, Cynthia PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAHA; Sullivan, Barbara-Jean PhD, PMHCNS-BC, NP; Struble, Laura PhD, GNP-BC

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e31822c47d7
Feature Article

Purpose/Objectives: The objective of the present study was to revise 3 clinical nurse specialist (CNS) educational tracks with current National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialist core competencies and educational expectations.

Background and Significance: National curricula recommendations include core competencies by the 3 spheres of influence. Advanced practice registered nurses consensus model educational requirements include a minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours; separate graduate courses in pharmacology, pathophysiology, and advanced physical assessment; and content in differential diagnosis disease management, decision making, and role preparation.

Description: This educational initiative was designed to (1) align with core competencies and advanced practice registered nurse consensus model recommendations, (2) create an innovative learning environment, (3) meet the needs of diverse student populations, (4) align with emerging doctor of nursing practice programs, (5) create a high-efficiency and high-quality environment to manage human and fiscal resources, and (6) reduce duplication of efforts.

Outcome: Courses were revised that did not meet current CNS educational preparation expectations. A total of 11 didactic and clinical sequences courses were developed for the 3 tracks to (1) ensure minimum numbers of clinical hours; (2) expand content on health promotion and risk reduction, advanced practice nurse role, and the healthcare delivery system; (3) consolidate clinical courses; and (4) resequence foundational content before beginning clinical courses.

Interpretation/Conclusion: Revisioning a CNS curriculum in 3 specialty tracks is challenging but doable using innovative and creative approaches.

Implications: The innovative process used to revise our CNS curriculum will assist nurse educators faced with similar program delivery challenges to meet future directions for educating CNS students in advanced nursing practice.

Author Affiliations: Associate Professor (Dr Arslanian-Engoren); Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor (Dr Sullivan); and Assistant Clinical Professor (Dr Struble), University of Michigan, School of Nursing, Ann Arbor.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Cynthia Arslanian-Engoren, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAHA, University of Michigan School of Nursing, 400 N Ingalls, Room 2176, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.