The Clinical Nurse Specialist RoleChris Divens MSN, RN, CPN,
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) have a dynamic advanced practice nursing role that varies by clinical focus, independent practice, and the healthcare team and setting. In the Unites States, a CNS is one of four designated and licensed advanced practice nursing (APN) roles in addition to nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, and nurse midwife. CNSs hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and graduate level education with an MSN, DNP or PhD. CNS practice includes several competencies of advanced practice nursing: direct clinical practice, expert coaching and guidance, consultation, research, leadership, collaboration and ethical decision-making.
Most importantly, we both enjoy the individualized and personal interactions with our patients and families in the abdominal transplant programs and watching them progress through their transplant “journey.” From the CNS perspective, being a part of this process is very rewarding - from the transplant evaluation to transplant surgery, then the immediate post-operative period into chronic care and eventually transition to adult care. We guide the education process as they learn about the diagnosis leading to transplant, then support them as their understanding of post-transplant care develops and they reintegrate into family, school and community life, finding their “new normal.” We also help them at various time points as they adapt to the chronicity of transplant by reviewing and reinforcing transplant education during new onset rejection or when co-morbidities develop, or as consultants to work with them on adherence, psychosocial issues, and developing independence with self-care. It is rewarding to collaborate with the multidisciplinary transplant team within autonomous CNS practice to meet the department’s strategic goals and improve patient outcomes.
In addition to direct patient care, we also benefit from networking with other CNSs and Allied Health Professional’s (AHP) through professional organizations to improve practice. We are active in several transplant and nursing organizations and have experiences in executive leadership, committee chair positions and projects, and conference planning. There are many opportunities for professional growth in these organizations and working with our colleagues from other transplant centers enhances our practice.