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The Clinical Nurse Specialist: Leadership in Quality Improvement

Finkelman, Anita MSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e3182776d8f
Feature Article

Healthcare delivery is in a crisis, requiring improvement. How to improve and who should assume more leadership are not clear. At the same time, the nursing profession struggles with a weak education system, graduating students who require major support for an extended time. There is also confusion related to nursing roles, particularly with nurses who have a graduate degree. The Institute of Medicine has published a series of reports about the healthcare system and need for improvement and describes a structure for improvement. The clinical nurse specialist is particularly suited to assume a major role in nursing leadership to guide staff and the healthcare system to better ensure improved care. There is great need to communicate that the clinical nurse specialist can and should assume this role. This will require a review and development of more quality improvement content and experiences in clinical nurse specialist educational programs, but much of the content is already in programs. The clinical nurse specialist works in systems, impacts systems, works with staff, and can thus reach more patients with improvement approaches.

Author Affiliation: Visiting Faculty, Bouvé College of Health Sciences School of Nursing, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.

The author reports no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Anita Finkelman, MSN, RN, 3550 Principio Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45208 (

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.