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To hire and be hired

Murray, Kathleen MSN, RN, CNA

doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000413647.27224.09
Department: Leadership Q&A

Vice President of Patient Care ServicesBaptist Medical Center Downtown, Jacksonville, Fla.

Q I'm in need of a clinical educator for my department. Should I choose a person who has a master's degree in nursing education, a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), a nurse leader, or an NP? I have résumés from all of these specialties.

The nursing field offers many prospects for advanced practice specialization, including the areas you identified, each of which has its own distinct set of qualifications, educational requirements, and salary range. You'll need to educate yourself on what each role has to offer that can best support your unit in achieving better patient outcomes.

The following highlights the clinical nurse leader (CNL), CNS, nurse educator, and NP practice differentiation:

  • The CNL directs patient care at the unit level in a variety of healthcare settings, evaluates patient care, facilitates team performance, and is instrumental in implementing evidence-based practice to improve patient safety and obtain optimal patient outcomes.
  • The CNS diagnoses and treats diseases, injuries, and disabilities in his or her specific area of clinical expertise and leads the multidisciplinary team in providing care to patients and families with complex medical needs.
  • The nurse educator, who works in the acute care setting, is responsible for clinically preparing current and future generations of nurses by designing, implementing, evaluating, and revising academic and continuing-education programs for nurses; playing a pivotal role in strengthening the nursing workforce through the development and validation of nurse competencies; serving as a role model; and providing the leadership needed to increase critical thinking skills.
  • The acute care NP provides the integration of patient care throughout the hospital stay, diagnosing and providing treatment for acute medical conditions, working in collaboration with the physician, and working closely with the interdisciplinary healthcare team.


Before you make your decision, you need to meet with your nurse executive to obtain insight regarding the future strategic plan for your unit. Don't base your selection on how your unit is functioning today, but what type of care delivery model it will be providing in the future.

Q I'm 25 years old and have been a nurse for 3 years. I recently completed my master's degree in nursing administration and no one will even hire me to a first-line supervisor role. Am I doing something wrong?

You've clearly completed the formal preparation for a leadership role by obtaining your master's degree in nursing administration. The question you need to answer isn't what am I doing wrong, but how am I perceived within the organization as an up-and-coming leader?

I recommend that you meet with your manager and ask the following questions:

  • Have my coworkers recognized me as a future leader? If not, why?
  • What leadership traits do you identify as my strengths and what are my areas of opportunity for development?
  • Would you, as my manager, recommend me for a leadership position?
  • Have I been identified in the organization's succession plan as an up-and-coming leader?
  • Am I seen as a team player who's loyal to the organization?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you need to take advantage of everything your organization has to offer for leadership development. Remember, being acknowledged as an up-and-coming leader will likely require you to take on more responsibility or lead an initiative that doesn't include an increase in salary or a change in status. You need to embrace any opportunity that comes your way and consider it a chance for personal leadership growth. It's up to you to pursue the possibility of being considered for the next leadership role.

© 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.