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Role Transition After Clinical Nurse Specialist Education

Ares, Terri, L., PhD, RN, CNS-BC

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0000000000000357
Feature Article

Purpose: This study explored the transition of clinical nurse specialists into new roles after completion of their graduate education.

Design: A quantitative longitudinal survey was used to measure certification, employment, career commitment, and the imposter phenomenon.

Methods: An online survey was sent to 113 participants from a previous national study that agreed to follow-up. The Student Nurse Anesthetist Experience Questionnaire and Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale instruments were used. Each case (N = 68) was matched with data from the primary study, and 2 comparison groups were formed based on employment status as a clinical nurse specialist.

Results: The advanced practice certification rate was 66.7%, and 48.5% were employed as a clinical nurse specialist. The employed group perceived more autonomy, a more positive view of the clinical nurse specialist lifestyle, and upset life plans if not able to practice in the role when compared with the not-employed group. Self-image was significantly different based on employment, but career commitment was not particularly strong regardless of employment status. The prevalence of imposter phenomenon experiences was 74.6% in this sample.

Conclusion: Recent graduates are struggling with their transition into practice as clinical nurse specialists.

Author Affiliation: Assistant Professor and Graduate Programs Coordinator, School of Nursing, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson.

This study was supported by Xi Theta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.

The author reports no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Terri L. Ares, PhD, RN, CNS-BC, California State University - Dominguez Hills, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson, CA 90747 (

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