1. Gilliland, Irene CNS, ACHPN
  2. Mcneill, Jeanette DrPH, RN, AOCNS
  3. Goei, Kathy PhD, RN
  4. Jones, Mary Elaine PhD, RN

Article Content


To examine factors associated with student success in an online adult clinical nurse specialist education program.



Use of online technologies in nursing education, specifically in advanced education, has increased; however, few studies document predictors of success with students from diverse backgrounds.



Demographic changes continue to increase the need for APNs with skills in managing adult health, chronically ill, and end-of-life patients. An online education program for adult CNS preparation was federally funded in 2006 to recruit nurses from rural and diverse backgrounds. Confidence with online technology, learning style, personality type, and demographic factors are known to affect student success. This paper describes preliminary findings related to characteristics and perceptions among 4 cohorts of students.



Four instruments measured student characteristics, perceptions, and satisfaction: the Index of Learning Styles (ILS) (Felder and Solomon, 2003), Online Technologies Self-efficacy Scale (OTSES) (Miltiadou, 2001), the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Briggs and Briggs Myers, 1988), and a student satisfaction questionnaire. Demographic characteristics were gathered to describe the sample of students enrolled in an online adult health CNS program.



The sample of 23 students had a mean age of 43; the majority were ethnically diverse and had taken at least 1 other online course. Findings suggested a fairly high comfort level with online technology at entry; in terms of learning style, most students were concrete thinkers, practical, oriented toward facts and procedures (sensing), and were moderate to strong visual learners. Preliminary analysis of student satisfaction indicated students enrolled in online coursework for convenience and were highly satisfied with the program and online learning. The project retention rate is 91%, and 6 students have graduated.



Further study of larger samples and analysis of data examining learning styles, personality type, and achievement may profile motivations of students seeking online programs and provide additional insight into strategies for success.


Implications for CNS Basic and Continuing Education:

Online coursework provides student-friendly alternatives for CNS education. Knowledge of student characteristics associated with success and satisfaction can aide faculty to recruit, retain, and graduate CNSs for the future.


Section Description

The 2010 National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) Annual National Conference is planned for Portland, Oregon, on March 3 to 6. More than 375 clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), graduate faculty, nurse administrators, nurse researchers, and graduate students are expected to attend. This year's theme, "CNS as Internal Consultant: Influencing Local to Global Systems," demonstrates the breadth and depth of CNS practice and leadership at multiple levels in organizations and on healthcare.


A total of 142 abstracts were submitted for review, and 58 (not including student posters) were selected for either podium or poster presentations. Again, this year, there is a CNS student poster session; student abstracts will appear in a later issue of the journal. The abstracts addressed CNS practice in all 3 practice domains as described in the Spheres of Influence Framework for CNS Practice. Abstracts emphasized patient safety and quality care outcomes, leadership, CNS education, evidence-based practice, and new ways to shape CNS practice. Topics include CNS work activities incorporated into the 3 Spheres of Influence, the role of the CNS in developing clinical inquiry skills among staff nurses, use of simulation technology, strategies to maintain clinical excellence, the role of the CNS in National Database for Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) activities, and many new and thoughtful ideas to support CNS education, practice, and research. Collectively, the abstracts represent the breadth, depth, and richness of the CNS's contribution to the well-being of individuals, families, and communities, as well as contributing to the advancement of the nursing profession.


The conference abstracts are published to share new knowledge with those unable to attend the conference. As you read each abstract, appreciate the intellectual talent and clinical scholarship of your CNS colleagues who are advancing the practice of nursing and contributing to the health of society through improved outcomes for patients and healthcare organizations. We encourage you to contact individual presenters to network, collaborate, consult, or share your thoughts and ideas on the conference topics.


Watch for next year's call for abstracts and consider submitting for presentation at the next NACNS annual conference scheduled for March 9-12, 2011, in Baltimore, Maryland.