clinical nurse specialist, COVID-19, crisis management, leadership, nursing, pandemic



  1. Ladak, Anila DNP, RN, CNS, GNP-BC
  2. Lee, Betty MN, RN, CNS, CMSRN
  3. Sasinski, Juliet MSN, RN, CNS, RNC-NIC


Purpose: Emergence of the COVID-19 crisis into the healthcare system challenged existing roles and shifted organizational priorities and staff responsibilities. Operating within the spheres of impact, clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) adapted to the needs of the organization and expanded their responsibilities to provide crisis leadership.


Description of Project: The CNSs used advanced practice nursing skills and leadership to implement hospital rounds, identify issues, make decisions, collaborate with stakeholders, disseminate new and emerging information, and evaluate processes in an ongoing pandemic. Using the health crisis management framework, the CNSs demonstrated authentic leadership throughout the prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation phases.


Outcome: Data analysis of CNS handoff and meeting communications generated these areas of focus involving the CNSs: (1) clinical practice, (2) supplies, (3) workflows, and (4) people.


Conclusion: The CNS played a vital role in the planning, training, and evaluation of crisis preparation. New and emerging infectious diseases may continue to confront the healthcare system. Thus, healthcare systems need to remain prepared for public health threats. In the crisis leadership role, the CNS helped the transition to learn and relearn practices. As authentic leaders, CNSs instilled calmness, confidence, trust, and resiliency to the staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.