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advanced practice nurses, APRN, clinical nurse specialist, CNS, fellowships, onboarding, orientation, residencies, transition to practice



  1. Bloomingdale, Rosina DNP, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, GCNS, APNP
  2. Darmody, Julie V. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC
  3. Ellis, Julie L. PhD, RN, GCNS-BC


Purpose: A quality improvement/evidence-based practice project identified the critical components of clinical nurse specialist (CNS) transition-to-practice (TTP) needs based on the experiences and perceptions of entry-level CNSs (n = 4), experienced CNSs (n = 7), and directors of nursing (n = 6) employed in a tertiary healthcare center. Structured 60- to 90-minute face-to-face discussions were conducted.


Description: As knowledge workers, CNSs are critical to investigating, solving, and transforming some of the most challenging current and future healthcare problems. Lack of standardized CNS TTP may result in variable levels of practice, knowledge, skill attainment, and ability to attain interdisciplinary practice competencies.


Outcomes: Findings included identification of entry-level CNS TTP key components: 16 categories with 8 critical categories identified as imminent needs. Challenges identified included stakeholders' lack of knowledge/understanding of the CNS role and scope; enormous TTP expectations of entry-level CNSs; transdisciplinary relationships and collaboration; leadership culture and collaboration; organizational culture; deliberate practice; and lack of support, resources, and basic needs.


Conclusion: Critical components for advanced deliberate practice within a CNS TTP program include an organizational culture and subculture that understands and values the CNS, along with tiered sustainable support from preceptors, mentors, and support CNSs across the setting and system.