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Once again this year the journal is proud and pleased to bring you the abstracts of the 2005 Conference of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS). A review of the abstracts will demonstrate the depth and breadth of expertise in clinical nurse specialist practice. This year's conference marks the 10 years since NACNS was created. The initial bylaws were created at Indiana University School of Nursing, and soon after NACNS was incorporated. The birth of NACNS marked the coming of the first professional organization dedicated to CNSs and CNS practice regardless of specialty. What a fantastic 10 years-the conference abstracts are only a partial evidence of its success. Here are some additional accomplishments worth noting.


The Statement on Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice and Education,1 published in 1998, was the first professional-association document to describe CNS practice. Prior documents and standards tended to focus on the role of a CNS. The Statement was the first consensus document to create a framework for practice and to articulate both practice competencies and educational recommendations to achieve the competencies-all in one document. Dr Hildegard Peplau is among the many reviewers of the first edition. Her written glowing comments are among NACNS's archival treasures. Over 8000 copies of that first edition were sold!! In 2004, the second extensively reviewed edition was released and has been enthusiastically endorsed by CNSs, educators, and administrators. The practice framework-spheres of influence-is the new language of CNS practice. The framework appears in journal publications and other influential works such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' Scope of Standards and Professional Performance for the Acute and Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist.2


In 2002, over 50% of the CNS programs reported using the Statement to guide curriculum. And CNS programs are growing-more programs are opening and expanding. In the last few years, 40 new CNS programs have opened or reopened in response to demands for the skills and competencies that CNSs uniquely bring toword advancing the practice of nursing.


Membership continues to grow steadily. Each of the past 10 years has enjoyed increases in membership. The membership survey provides important demographic data about CNSs, and the membership directory promotes networking. The number of affiliate organizations has been increasing-check the NACNS Web site for an affiliate near you. The Annual NACNS Conference attendance is now over 300 and includes CNSs, CNS educators, and nurse administrators. The Educator's Summit Pre-Conference is an anticipated annual event-a forum for information and sharing among CNS educators. This year's Legislative/Regulatory Pre-Conference, aimed an increasing CNSs' knowledge of the regulatory arena, builds on last year's legislative conference session and follow-up workshop that developed a cadre of CNSs skilled at working with state legislators and boards of nursing. Growth and development in every direction!!


And it keeps getting better. This year's conference includes the first ever CNS Foundation Gala. The new foundation, dedicated to supporting the mission of NACNS, is off to a great start with an energetic leadership and a dynamic board. The foundation is planning activities to address the CNS shortage, such as scholarships, and research to document outcomes of CNS practice.


The challenges for the future are many, but for now we will pause to reflect on the almost incredible accomplishments of a dedicated group of CNSs who brought a fledgling idea to prominence as a national organization. NACNS is a voice of leadership, a professional network of colleagues, a source of information, a community of mentors, a haven for respite from our burdens. Happy birthday NACNS!! A humble thank you to the first board of directors and the 67 members who risked much and never lost the faith or the verve to make this anniversary a reality.




1. National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. Statement on Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice and Education. Harrisburg, PA: National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists; 2004. [Context Link]


2. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Scope of Standards and Professional Performance for the Acute and Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist. Aliso Viejo, CA: American Association of Critical-Care Nurses; 2002. [Context Link]