The role of the clinical nurse specialist in promoting evidence-based practice and effecting positive patient outcomes

J Contin Educ Nurs. Nov-Dec 2007;38(6):262-70. doi: 10.3928/00220124-20071101-03.


Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are vital members of the healthcare delivery leadership team. The knowledge and expertise of the CNS is germane to the quality of care a patient receives. More than 50 CNSs practice at Massachusetts General Hospital (the state's first Magnet hospital), where they share their clinical skills, mentor staff through difficult situations, identify learning needs, and implement innovative approaches to patient care. This article presents a brief history of the CNS role and describes how the CNS role is operationalized at Massachusetts General Hospital and its impact on unit-based and organizational outcomes. In addition, several programs and interventions identified by the CNSs in response to results of the Staff Perception of the Professional Practice Environment Survey are discussed. How the CNS influences the professional development of staff and potential implications for the future role of the CNS are described. An exemplar is included depicting a typical work day of a CNS on an acute adult medical unit.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Boston
  • Certification
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / organization & administration
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / education
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / organization & administration
  • Forecasting
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hospitals, General
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Job Description
  • Leadership
  • Nurse Clinicians / education
  • Nurse Clinicians / organization & administration*
  • Nurse Clinicians / psychology
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nursing Research* / education
  • Nursing Research* / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / education
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Staff Development / organization & administration