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clinical nurse specialist, clinical nurse specialist practice, community health nursing





Purpose/Objectives: This study explored the practice of clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) certified in Community Health nursing in the United States and described demographic and employment characteristics and perspectives about professional practice.


Methods: The survey method was used. Of the 209 Community Health CNSs certified by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) invited to complete the investigator-designed mail questionnaire, 111 (53%) returned a completed questionnaire. The questionnaire contained 27 items about employment, income, years in practice, certification, career satisfaction, and educational preparation, and asked participants to indicate the fit between the Community Health CNS role and the traditional CNS subroles model described by the American Nurses Association (ANA) (The Role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist, 1986) and the updated National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) CNS practice model (Statement on Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice and Education, 1998). Content validity was established by Community Health CNS reviewer feedback.


Analysis: Quantifiable data were tallied and analyzed using standard spreadsheet computer software. Qualitative data were summarized for content themes.


Findings: The majority of participants were white, middle-aged females who reported being satisfied with their careers as Community Health CNSs. Most indicated that they were respected by colleagues, that they had been adequately prepared by their education, and that their current work made good use of their education and expertise. When asked to identify, by percentage of effort, the fit between their job responsibilities and the traditional subroles model of practice, the mean of reported fit was as follows: educator, 35%; administrator/leader, 22%; clinician, 21%; consultant, 14%; and researcher, 8%. The fit between job responsibilities and the spheres of influence in the NACNS model of practice was reported to average 39% for patient/client, 35% for organization/network, and 25% for nurses/ nursing practice.


Conclusions: Community Health CNS is a viable specialty practice with long-term career options. The subrole functions-described by ANA-of clinician, educator, administrator/leader, consultant, and to a lesser extent researcher apply to the role. The more intergraded updated model offered by NACNS also fits Community Health CNS practice with more emphasis on patient/client and organization/ network spheres than on nurses/nursing practice sphere.


Implications: Schools of nursing should continue to offer the Community Health CNS programs and incorporate both the traditional functions and newer practice model into their curricula, with a greater emphasis on diversity of students to help ensure a more diverse CNS population. Further research is needed to explore the outcomes of Community Health CNS practice and the factors that contribute to role satisfaction.