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Clinical Nurse Leader Specialization

Clinical Nurse Leader Specialization

Integrate and Collaborate to Offer Quality Care

The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) position is a role that was developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in recognition of present and future changes in patient care. Clinical Nurse Leaders are advanced generalist clinicians who have the skills and knowledge to integrate patient evaluation, risk assessment, and communication with other health care team members to offer the best possible care across all types of health care settings.

The CNL specialization course work and 348 hours of role immersion prepares students to sit for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing CNL Certification Exam. Students who are not planning on moving into the CNL role may be interested in this specialization to upgrade their skills and knowledge, take on educational roles, or move into other advanced nursing positions with a focus on patients.

Core Courses Credit Hours
NU 501 Health Care Policy & Ethics for Contemporary Nursing Practice 3
NU 530 Theory and Professional Roles for Contemporary Nursing Practice 3
NU 601 Principles of Health Care Research for Contemporary Nursing Practice 3
NU 602 Evidence-based Practice for Quality Care 3
Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Specialization Courses Credit Hours
NU 550 Family and Community Context for Health Care 3
NU 553 Advanced Pathophysiology 3
NU 554 Application of Comprehensive Health Assessment Methods 3
NU 575 Health Care Information Systems 3
NU 605 Pharmacology for the Nurse Leader 3
NU 611 Care Management and Resources Across the Continuum 3
NU 612 Disease Management and Outcomes Assessment 3
NU 680 CNL Role Immersion Practicum 3
NU 681 CNL Capstone 3

Prerequisite Courses will be added to your curriculum plan if not completed previously

NU 325 Health Assessment for RNs – Prerequisite for all MSN specialization tracks Utilizing the conceptual framework of the nursing program, this course focuses on comprehensive health assessment. Adequate data collection and careful analysis for diagnostic and planning purposes is stressed. The student will use the diagnostic reasoning process to formulate nursing diagnoses based on the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) nomenclature. The nursing laboratory experience is available for students but not required. Videotaping assessment skills is a required course tool.  Prerequisite: Acceptance to the RN-BSN or RN-MSN Nursing Major

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Integrate knowledge from nursing and the sciences into the health assessment of individuals throughout the lifespan.
  2. Demonstrate skills in health assessment through interviewing, history taking, physical assessment and functional assessment.
  3. Utilize the diagnostic reasoning process to accurately formulate judgments about health assessment data.
  4. Demonstrate principles of adequate and accurate documentation related to the health assessment of an individual.
  5. Discuss the legal and ethical implications of the role of the nurse related to health assessment.

MA 131 Statistics for Decision Making – Prerequisite for NU 601 and all MSN tracks This course is geared towards liberal arts, science and health science majors. It introduces descriptive statistics, probability distributions: both discrete and normal confidence intervals, hypothesis testing and correlation. Real world applications are offered and computer statistical software may be used. Prerequisite: One college-level Mathematics course or placement by Mathematics Department

Core Courses

NU 501 Health Care Policy & Ethics for Contemporary Nursing Practice This core course focuses on history, policy, and ethics in nursing and health care. It examines health care policy, including global health considerations, health care financing, quality and safety in health care, and the ethics of health care. Current practices in nursing and health care are viewed from the past and present as a way to contemplate the future. The course builds on a framework of critical thinking, as students explore aspects of the history of nursing and medicine, analysis of current policy development, and implications of the past for present and future actions in nursing and health care.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Explore and evaluate selected aspects of health care policy and their impact on health care services and outcomes.
  2. Discuss key issues and trends in health care delivery and legislation including scope of practice, standards of practice, credentialing, licensure, certification and prescriptive authority.
  3. Describe the major principles of health care financing, noting their relationship to policy decisions and ethical issues.
  4. Discuss the evolution of the organization and structure of health care institutions and systems within the context of achievement of health care goals and outcomes.
  5. Identify and analyze common ethical dilemmas in health care using ethical principles and decision strategies.
  6. Describe major documents that guide health care in the United States including the Institute of Medicine Report (October 2010) The Future of Nursing and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and reports from the Institute of Medicine, and their implications for professional nursing.
  7. Initiate a portfolio to begin the process of compiling and displaying a comprehensive set of professional works that reflect achievement of MSN end of program competencies.

NU 530 Theory and Professional Roles for Contemporary Nursing Practice This course is one of the graduate core classes that provides the foundation for advanced practice nursing. The role of the advance practice nurse as a member of the profession will be emphasized. Students will be introduced to theories from nursing, natural, social, biological and organizational sciences to frame their future practice. Further, students consider issues of cultural diversity and competence to assure the delivery of culturally competent care and minimization of health disparities.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Describe the role of advanced practice nurses as a member of the profession.
  2. Reflect on learning needs and opportunities for transition into the advanced practice role.
  3. Assess personal communication effectiveness.
  4. Critique, evaluate and utilize appropriate theory from nursing, natural, social, organizational and biological sciences.
  5. Develop an understanding for and appreciation of human diversity to assure the delivery of culturally competent care.
  6. Reflect on how one’s own world view and culture affects personal and professional relationships.

NU 601 Principles of Health Care Research for Contemporary Nursing Practice This course studies the field of research and its relationship to problems related to nursing and health care. Each step of the research process is explored in-depth to develop the skills to apply research to practice. Students apply critical analysis to relevant research literature to determine its usefulness and application. Statistical methods and concepts are reviewed and integrated throughout the course to promote an understanding of those concepts within the context of health care research. Emphasis is on understanding the research process through proposal development. Prerequisite: MA 131

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Examine the evolution of nursing and health care research.
  2. Generate well-worded research questions.
  3. Compare and contrast different research designs.
  4. Prepare an integrative literature review in a specified area of interest.
  5. Evaluate the strength of research evidence by critiquing key methodological steps within research reports.
  6. Interpret the relevance of statistical information in published reports.
  7. Apply principles of ethical and legal issues involved in conducting research.

NU 602 Evidence-Based Practice for Quality Care This course builds on the content of Principles of Health Care Research for Contemporary Nursing Practice (NU 601) and begins with principles inherent to a sound data collection and analysis, including both philosophical and pragmatic differences between qualitative and quantitative research. Content areas of substance include evidence-based practice, nursing theory in research, statistical analysis from the prospective of application and critique, research utilization, and issues in nursing and health care research from a national perspective. Students critique research articles according to criteria and develop a project related to evidence-based practice.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Describe the process of evidence based practice in nursing and the role of the advanced practice nurse.
  2. Use knowledge of nursing research to critically appraise research studies for their implementation into practice.
  3. Apply change theory in the implementation of an evidence based practice initiative to improve practice.
  4. Discuss national issues related to healthcare policy and quality.
  5. Interpret the relevance of statistical information in published reports.
  6. Synthesize and deepen knowledge of nursing research.
  7. Discuss best evidence, patient concerns, and clinical judgment in evidence based practice.

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Specialization Courses

NU 550 Family and Community Context for Health Care This course, the first within the Family, Primary Care, and Community sequence, addresses selected family, primary care, and community theories within the context of advanced practice nursing and clinical leadership roles. The family system is viewed as both unique and dynamic, existing interdependently with the community and the environment and requiring advanced nursing expertise and caring at various times across the life cycle. Particular emphasis is placed on family and community assessment strategies, the impact of culture upon the family and community systems, and the impact of various primary care-oriented health problems on family roles and functions. In addition, relevant concepts and principles of epidemiology are applied to the current and emerging health status of families and communities. Faculty collaborate with students as they apply advanced clinical knowledge to the family system in a community setting. Students function interdependently with other health team members in the care of families and evaluate a plan of care using standards for advanced clinical practice.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Critically analyze the family and community as clients using a systems and developmental approach.
  2. Analyze the multiple variables that shape family and community systems to determine the health status and needs of client families within a community context.
  3. Discuss components of primary care theory in correlation to family functioning within the community.
  4. Synthesize advanced nursing, family, community, and primary care theories for application to a family plan of care.
  5. Integrate the various components of culturally competent care into the design and implementation of effective family and community plans of care.
  6. Demonstrate advanced nursing assessment skills in caring for a selected family within the community context.
  7. Analyze the impact of selected health problems on family and community systems.
  8. Collaborate with a selected family to evaluate progress of this family toward mutually determined health goals.
  9. Analyze relevant facets of family systems, such as socialization of family members and utilization of resources that provide an ability to function as an effective citizen within society.
  10. Demonstrate an evolving understanding of the legal-ethical ramifications of advanced practice nursing and clinical leadership in the care of families within the community context.
  11. Demonstrate an evolving commitment to self-reflection and self-evaluation.
  12. Utilize relevant principles of epidemiology in the assessment of a selected family within the community context.

NU 553 Advanced Pathophysiology This course further prepares each student to assess in-depth the pathophysiology of common disease states. Clinical pathology content addresses alterations in major body systems that are commonly found in the primary care settings, as well as common testing used in the diagnostic process. This course assists the student in the role of advanced practice nurse with the preparation to assess clients across the lifespan.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of pathophysiology and be able to integrate this knowledge in identification of clinical findings.
  2. Demonstrate the principles of critical thinking in processing and evaluating clinical findings.
  3. Differentiate between normal and abnormal clinical findings during the health assessment process.
  4. Discuss the relevance of common abnormal clinical findings to the client.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the pathophysiology in common diseases and be able to apply that knowledge to typical primary care situations.
  6. Discuss appropriate use of common medical testing employed in the diagnosis of disease states.

NU 554 Application of Comprehensive Health Assessment Methods This course prepares the learner to assess in depth the biopsychosocial health status of clients across the life span by obtaining a complete and accurate health history and by performing a systematic physical examination. Acquired data will be used to formulate a comprehensive problem list for the client and refine documentation skills Content will be designed to provide correlation of assessment strategies with an understanding of the mechanisms of illness and health problems of the main body systems. Health and wellness in the context of disability will be addressed. This course assists in the socialization of the learner into the role of the clinical nurse leader or nurse educator in the current health care delivery system. The laboratory component enables the learner to develop comprehensive assessment skills. Prerequisite: NU 325

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Obtain a complete and accurate health history on clients of all ages using a developmental approach.
  2. Record data gleaned from the health history in a complete and accurate manner.
  3. Perform a focused accurate physical assessment on clients of varying ages using correct techniques of examination.
  4. Record data obtained from the physical assessment in an accurate manner.
  5. Integrate knowledge of pathophysiology, including cultural and genetic influences, with the identification of clinical findings.
  6. Differentiate between normal and abnormal clinical findings during the health assessment process.
  7. Discuss the relevance of common abnormal clinical findings to the client.
  8. Use diagnostic reasoning to formulate both a problem list and a differential diagnosis based on assessment findings, which reflects both normal and abnormal clinical findings.
  9. Discuss common laboratory and imaging studies that could be used to facilitate diagnosis.
  10. Develop performance and procedural skills necessary to complete the health assessment process.
  11. Respect the individuality, dignity, cultural beliefs, and privacy of the client.
  12. Protect the client's legal and moral rights to confidentiality.

NU 575 Health Care Information Systems An introduction to health information systems as tools for decision making and communication in health care. This course builds on prior knowledge of systems theory and utilizes change theory and information processing theory to analyze, manage and evaluate health care information. Emphasis is also on the ability to utilize information systems in the delivery of patient care and the exploration of the variety of tools available to assist in the analysis of quality care.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Explore theoretical foundations for the processing of information and change within nursing and the health care system.
  2. Explore the process of implementing technology and its impact on health care delivery.
  3. Integrate relevant knowledge from nursing and organizational theory to the management of information to guide managerial decision making.
  4. Propose a healthcare informatics project based on nursing process, change theory, and administrative strategies for assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating informatics in a healthcare organization.
  5. Examine social, ethical and legal issues involved in computerized procedures related to health care delivery.
  6. Evaluate data management and computer applications used in clinical practice, nursing and healthcare administration.

NU 605 Pharmacology for the Nurse Leader This course will focus on the pharmacotherapeutic principles of drugs most commonly used and evaluated by the Nurse Leader across health care settings. Basic pharmacological concepts, including pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and pharmacotherapeutics, as well as the principal classifications of drugs in clinical use today are discussed in relation to physiologic and psychologic concepts. The role of the Nurse Leader in teaching patients safe and effective medication administration and assessment of medication management in patients with chronic disease is emphasized. A variety of interactive and experiential activities will be utilized to enable the student to apply pharmacological theory to clinical situations and patient education.

NU 611 Care Management and Resources Across the Continuum Reviews the basic approaches to care or case management and utilization in their evolution, driving factors, and contemporary roles within a variety of health care settings. The role of practice guidelines and key relationships among nursing roles and interprofessional team members is considered along with the contributions of technology and financial considerations.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Articulate the contributions of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) or Nursing Educator to the quality and cost of healthcare.
  2. Define the evolution of the role of the CNL or Nurse Educator.
  3. Value lifelong learning plan.
  4. Identify how the CNL or Nurse Educator effects healthcare change through advocacy for the profession, interdisciplinary health care team and/or the client.
  5. Analyze the clinical Microsystem and the projected impact on quality and safety.
  6. Appraise how staff development education influences quality client outcomes.
  7. Critique how patient education needs are assessed/planned/coordinated/delivered based on desired outcomes consistent with evidence-based guidelines and quality care standards.
  8. Interrupt IOM strategies (core competencies) for restructuring clinical education to improve quality care and enhance patient safety.
  9. Participate in a professional organization/or agency wide committee.
  10. Discuss the role of the CNL or Nurse Educator as a leader and partner in the interdisciplinary health care team.
  11. Articulate the cost of chronic disease management and the role the CNL or Nurse Educator plays in management of cost effective quality care.
  12. Participate in systems review to critically evaluate and anticipate risks to client safety to improve quality of client care delivery.
  13. Analyze a trend analysis report of an incident and a root cause analysis of a sentinel event.
  14. Appraise information systems and technology at the point of care to improve health care outcomes.
  15. Identify health care management issue(s) and propose evidenced based strategies to monitor or resolve identified issue(s).

NU 612 Disease Management and Outcomes Assessment Introduces the concept of disease management as an evolution of case management and explores the benefits of a comprehensive case and disease management program in selected settings. Health priorities, models of chronic illness and important concepts related to health status (including quality of life and functional status) are discussed. Research on the outcomes of case and disease management is covered along with strategies for identifying and measuring outcomes of care.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Identify skills for management of illness and disease across the lifespan.
  2. Articulate the impact social, physical, psychological and spiritual responses have on health promotion, illness prevention, and health maintenance.
  3. Identify evidenced based strategies for disease management and strategies for identifying and measuring outcomes of care.
  4. Identify physical and psychological symptoms related to disease and treatment.
  5. Describe actions directed towards restoration, and optimization an individual’s level of functioning.
  6. Discuss how to manage complications of disease progression.
  7. Compare and contrast interventions for the moderation of pain and suffering.
  8. Differentiate pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies.
  9. Explain the importance of pharmacological evaluation (polypharmacy), patient education, and supervision to prevent drug related complications.
  10. Identify cultural influences on individual and family reactions to the illness experience and end of life.
  11. Summarize strategies to assist patients in achieving a peaceful end of life.
  12. Define the scope of the health literacy problem.
  13. Recognize health system barriers faced by patients with low literacy.
  14. Describe the application of case management skills and principles in the delivery and supervision of client care across a continuum.
  15. Critique principles of infection control.
  16. Evaluate behavioral change through concepts of patient’s readiness and ability to accomplish recommended lifestyle changes.
  17. Synthesize data, information and knowledge on patient self-efficacy.
  18. Examine the Social Ecological Theory, Transtheoretical Model/Stages of Change, Lewin’s Stages of Change, and/or the self-efficacy concepts.

NU 680 CNL Role Immersion Practicum This is the first course in the nursing sequence for the clinical nurse leader role practicum providing the opportunity for in-depth analysis of the CNL role within various health care settings and specialties through a guided role immersion practicum experience. Integration of prior coursework related to advanced assessment and pathophysiology, pharmacology, information systems, ethics, research, evidence-based practice and health care systems occurs through clinical role practice, case studies, and student presentations. A team of preceptors provide guidance and support as CNL students identify and enact the role components of the CNL role while analyzing the organizational context for this new role.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Practice application and synthesis of CNL role competencies in a designated clinical setting, working with one or more preceptors.
  2. Analyze and reflect on the CNL role in the designated setting including one's own level of competency development and the competencies of CNL role models/preceptors.
  3. Conduct an organizational assessment in (NU 611) and propose a Performance Improvement /Evidence Based Practice Project that incorporates the healthcare agency needs and correlates with student interests and CNL Competencies.
  4. Implement and evaluate a Performance Improvement /Evidence Based Practice Project (during NU 680 and NU681) that incorporates the healthcare agency needs and correlates with student interests and CNL Competencies.
  5. Assess knowledge regarding CNL certification exam content and develop a remediation plan to address identified weaknesses.
  6. Develop a poster presentation that describes the performance improvement/evidence based practice project, outcomes, and practice implications.
  7. Disseminate EBPP through publication and/or poster exhibit.

NU 681 CNL Capstone This capstone course is the final in the nursing sequence for the clinical nurse leader role practicum providing the opportunity for in-depth analysis of the CNL role within various health care settings and specialties through a guided role immersion practicum experience. Integration of prior coursework related to advanced assessment and pathophysiology, pharmacology, information systems, ethics, research, evidence-based practice and health care systems occurs through clinical role practice, case studies, and student presentations. A team of preceptors provide guidance and support as CNL students identify and enact the role components of the CNL role while analyzing the organizational context for this new role.

View Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will:

  1. Practice application and synthesis of CNL role competencies in a designated clinical setting, working with one or more preceptors.
  2. Analyze and reflect on the CNL role in the designated setting including one’s own level of competency development and the competencies of CNL role models/preceptors.
  3. Conduct an organizational assessment and propose a Performance Improvement/Evidence Based Practice Project that incorporates the healthcare agency needs and correlates with student interests and CNL Competencies.
  4. Implement and evaluate a Performance Improvement/Evidence Based Practice Project that incorporates the healthcare agency needs and correlates with student interests and CNL Competencies.
  5. Assess knowledge regarding CNL certification exam content and develop a remediation plan to address identified weaknesses.
  6. Develop a poster presentation that describes the performance improvement/evidence based practice project, outcomes, and practice implications.
  7. Disseminate EBPP through publication and/or poster exhibit.

*Find out more about the curriculum of Sacred Heart's Master of Science in Nursing. Call us today at 877-791-7181 or request more information online.

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