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Clinical Nurse Specialists + Salary, Careers & Jobs Outlook

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A clinical nurse specialist is a form of advanced practice nurse who has a master’s degree or a doctorate in a highly specialized field of nursing practice. Your area of specialty in clinical nursing may be in:

  • A population of patients, such as geriatrics, pediatrics, or women’s health

  • A specific setting, such as ER or critical care

  • A specific disease, such as diabetes or cancer

  • A specific care type, such as psychiatric or rehabilitation

  • A specific type of health condition, such as pain, stress, burns or wounds

Much of your time will be dedicated to helping patients to prevent or resolve various types of illness. However, you also will spend much of your time both diagnosing and treating various diseases, disabilities and injuries. You provide a high level of direct patient care, will serve as an expert consultant for other nurses, and will have a very active role in improving the level of care for your nursing staff.

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At IU Health, Clinical Nurse Specialists make all the nurses around them even better at providing care.

Where Clinical Nurse Specialists Work

Clinical nurse specialists can work in many types of health care facilities, including hospitals, outpatient care facilities and home health care organizations. Clinical nurse specialists can work in:

  • Specialized doctor’s offices

  • ERs

  • Nursing homes

  • Geriatric facilities

  • Psychiatric care facilities

  • Community centers

  • Health care facilities

  • Colleges

  • Laboratories

Job Opportunities & Salary Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that employment for all kinds of nurses is going to increase by 26% in the the next six years, which is a very fast rate of growth. One of the key drivers of this employment growth is the surge of baby boomers who are going to flood the health care system in the coming years. More of these people are living longer and healthier lives than in the past, so they are going to expect more health care services from health care providers. This means a strong work demand for clinical nurse specialists.

BLS also expects there to be up to 19% more jobs for clinical nurse specialists by 2018. Another key driver of higher demand is the fact that this type of nurse can give specialized care at a lower cost than a physician. finds that the average salary for clinical nurse specialists in the US is $68,000.


Related Job Titles highlights the average salary of jobs with related clinical nurse specialist titles:


  • RN Clinical Education Specialist – $62,000
  • Nicu Clinical Nurse Specialist – $124,000
  • Cns Nurse Educator – $89,000
  • Nurse Clinical Specialist – $61,000
  • Specialist Medical Surgical Unit – $21,000
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist – $24,000
  • Public Health Specialist – $82,000
  • Cardiovascular Specialist Ral – $68,000
  • LPN Charter House – $30,000
  • Telephonic RN – $61,000
  • Healthcare Specialist – $73,000
  • Clinical Documentation Specialist – $69,000
  • Medical Records Field Technician – $43,000
  • LPN Long Term Care – $35,000
  • Nurse Specialist – $72,000

Clinical Nurse Specialist vs Practitioner

A clinical nurse specialist and a nurse practitioner see and treat people at a level that approaches that of a regular doctor. The training of a clinical nurse specialist is similar in some ways to that of a nurse practitioner, as both require a Master of Science in Nursing.

The difference is that a nurse practitioner does primary patient care in family medicine, obstetrics or another field. A clinical nurse specialist provides care for a certain illness, population or sort of medical issue. They also are used a lot in ERs and critical care.

A clinical nurse specialist starts as an RN with a bachelor’s degree. The nurse then earns an MSN or possibly a doctorate degree specializing in clinical nursing.

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