1. Nolan-Kelley, Laurie DNP, CNL
  2. Bernhardt, Jean M. PhD, MHSA, CNP, NEA-BC

Article Content

In response to "Creating Clinical Nurse Leaders During the COVID-19 Outbreak" by Jean M. Bernhardt, PhD, MHSA, CNP, NEA-BC (September 2020): Thank you to Dr. Bernhardt for sharing her experience developing nursing leaders during the Spring COVID-19 surge. She provides a thorough and replicable guide for any facility identifying leadership potential when responding to a crisis.


However, I ask that Nursing Management correct the inaccurate use of the title clinical nurse leader. The Clinical Nurse LeaderSM (CNL(R)) is an earned credential granted by the Commission on Nurse Certification and may only be used by nurses who've graduated from a Master of Science in Nursing CNL program approved by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. A CNL is an advanced generalist, prepared to practice in any healthcare setting, with a focus on coordination of care, use of evidence, and improving patient outcomes. A CNL has completed a rigorous academic curriculum, including extensive clinical experience, and has been awarded the credential after successful completion of the CNL certification examination. I'm concerned that the article will cause confusion should an online search return the job description details contained in the article's Table 1.


Nursing Management subscribers can learn more about the CNL role and credential here: I applaud Dr. Bernhardt's program and appreciate her guidance as we prepare nurses for clinical leadership.


-Laurie Nolan-Kelley, DNP, CNL


Immediate past president of the Clinical Nurse Leader Association of Northern New England


Author's response


I thank Dr. Nolan-Kelley for her feedback on my study. It wasn't my intention to create confusion with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's (AACN) Clinical Nurse Leader credential. My organization uses the job title clinical nurse leader to categorize clinical nurses who are nurse leaders in our respiratory illness clinics. The use of CNL is an abbreviation for clinical nurse leader consistent with scholarly writing rather than the capitalized and copyrighted credential. I appreciate Dr. Nolan-Kelley's inclusion of the link to the AACN's website, which may help clarify the differences between its credential and our job position.


-Jean M. Bernhardt, PhD, MHSA, CNP, NEA-BC


Nurse administrator and family NP, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.


In the article "Creating Clinical Nurse Leaders During the COVID-19 Outbreak" (September 2020), Dr. Jean M. Bernhardt identified the value of nursing leadership at the point of care; however, the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) Board of Commissioners would like to clarify the qualifications and credentials of the Clinical Nurse Leader.SM The name "Clinical Nurse Leader" and initials "CNL(R)" are registered with the Patent and Trademark Office and are the exclusive intellectual property of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the CNC.


The CNL Certification Program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, with over 8,175 certified CNLs nationally. Eligibility requirements include a master's degree or post-master's certificate in nursing with specialty coursework and an immersion in CNL practice ( AACN's Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse LeaderSM Education and Practice have established the CNL advanced skill set and level of proficiency in the following domains of nursing practice: Nursing Leadership, Clinical Outcomes Management, and Care Environment Management (


To avoid confusion and misrepresentation of nursing roles in a peer-reviewed publication, it's important to differentiate the nationally certified CNL from the nurses and job description noted in this article.


-CNC Board of Commissioners