1. Section Editor(s): Rust, Jo Ellen MSN, RN

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NAME: Terri Church, MSN, APN, ACNS-BC

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CURRENT POSITION: Clinical Informaticist


CURRENT AFFILIATION: Washington Regional Medical Center


AREA(S) OF SPECIALIZATION: Informatics/Education/Outcomes Management


PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION: BSN-University of Central Arkansas, 2003; MSN-University of Central Arkansas, 2009


CERTIFICATIONS: Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist


As an educator of clinical nurse specialist (CNS) students, why are your students attracted to this particular advanced practice nursing role?


In my opinion, the attraction to this APN role is multifaceted. Opportunities exist in so many areas for those with a focus on outcomes management, and there is a consensus that healthcare in general will begin to lean more and more on the CNS as outcomes drive reimbursement and quality. Also, in my area, there is more of an opportunity within this role to work in an acute care environment than some of the other APN roles.


How do you describe the role of the CNS to your students and others?


In a nutshell (my "elevator speech," if you will), I describe the role of the CNS as a change agent with specific gap-bridging skills. We help you get from where you are to where you want to be in terms of outcomes, education, process, and policy.


What do you think are the best teaching strategies or most promising educational innovations for today's college graduate students?


Even when I was not in an informatics role, I felt that technology is the factor that has and will continue to change the way we manage adult education. Technology has created opportunities to attend schools we wouldn't have been able to attend and in a way convenient with our lives. Also, we now possess the ability to network with other CNSs and CNS students around the world, opening our eyes to new opportunities, roles, and innovations.


Being a clinical discipline, during the course of study for CNSs, they often spend time with a CNS preceptor who helps supervise their clinical experience. Describe the ideal preceptor for your CNS students.


The ideal preceptor is one that has a well-rounded role involving all aspects of the spheres of practice. However, I have found that even if a CNS preceptor has a more limited role, the knowledge of other CNS roles in the facility, the state, the country, and even the world is a good substitute. I want a preceptor who will teach HOW: how to network, how to communicate, how to assess a process, and so on. I've been lucky to work with many preceptors who possess the ability to do all of this and more.


What impact has the NACNS Statement on CNS Practice and Education had on your role as an educator or your curriculum for CNSs?


In my experience, the impact has been very positive, especially on students. It offers clarity and guidance where there was oftentimes confusion. Solidarity in how we approach education has been an additional benefit.


From an educator's perspective, what do you perceive as the key challenges in the graduate nursing education of CNSs today?


In my area, the primary challenge is access to preceptors, and building a beneficial and valuable clinical experience without true CNS preceptors is tricky. This obstacle is one of the reasons I value technology the way that I do. It has really made the difference between mediocre and superior clinical experiences.


To date, what do you perceive as your greatest accomplishments as a CNS educator?


There are several accomplishments that I value greatly, even if they perhaps would not easily be identified by others. One is the way I've managed to spotlight the contribution of CNSs in my health system, through greatly improved outcomes and CNS-led research. In turn, that spotlight has built interest in the CNS role, which is exciting for me as an educator. Of course, being chosen as Clinical Nurse Specialist Educator of the Year is a big part of directing the spotlight toward all of the CNSs that I am proud to call my colleagues and friends.


What advice would you give to one of your CNS students starting out in their career?


The most beneficial action that a new CNS can take is the identification of resident experts. If you are lucky enough to have other CNSs as close colleagues, they will, without fail, have a set of skills that will prove invaluable to your goals. However, network with whoever is available, and do not hesitate to ask your experts for help. I can honestly say that my colleagues at Washington Regional Medical Center and the University of Arkansas are the primary reason I am experiencing great success in my career.