Updated Acute Care CNS Scope and Standards Available

Jun 13, 2023

Added to Collection

New edition addresses acute care clinical nurse specialists’ evolving role amid an ever-changing healthcare landscape

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. - June 13, 2023 – The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has published a revision of its “AACN Scope and Standards for Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice,” a must-have resource that reflects the growing role of these advanced practice nurses.

AACN Scope and Standards for Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice” describes the expected level of practice and professional performance of the acute care CNS, whether they are educated and certified to care for neonatal, pediatric or adult-gerontology patients.

The CNS is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who completed an accredited graduate, doctoral or post-graduate certificate educational program that prepares them as a CNS within a defined patient population and includes supervised clinical practice to acquire advanced knowledge, skills and abilities. The acute care CNS practices in any setting where patients have acute, chronic or complex chronic illnesses, or a combination.

“Acute care CNSs provide clinical leadership and support to staff while remaining at the forefront of meeting patient care quality and safety, and organizational needs,” said Mary Stahl, MSN, RN, CCNS, CCRN-K, AACN clinical practice specialist. “It is important, now more than ever, to recognize their specific skills and competencies to support the patient and family, nursing staff and the organization.”

Current trends and developments in advanced practice nursing, in association with issues in healthcare delivery and an aging society, continue to drive the roles and responsibilities of the acute care CNS. These advanced practice nurses fill an important need for providers with unique knowledge, skills and abilities to manage patient care across the full continuum of acuity and care services from wellness to illness.

The 2022 document has been updated with perspectives on changes in nursing, including learning from the pandemic experiences. It delineates the acute care CNS scope of practice, standards of practice, and standards of professional performance. A new standard that focuses specifically on advocacy has been added to emphasize these elements of CNS nursing practice. The document also has a greater focus on equity, diversity and inclusion.

The document includes exemplars to reflect the potential ways the standards could be integrated into clinical environments, as well as a sample CNS job description provided by the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists.

Among the current issues and trends discussed in the document are the consensus model for APRN regulation, CNS recognition as an APRN, the work environment and certification.

“AACN Scope and Standards for Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice” can be downloaded at no charge on the AACN website after signing in. A print version of the 60-page document can be purchased for $10 for AACN members and $25 for nonmembers from AACN’s online store.

AACN also publishes scope and standards guidelines for acute care nurse practitioners and for progressive care and critical care nurses.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization's vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world's largest specialty nursing organization, with about 130,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000; www.aacn.org; facebook.com/aacnface; twitter.com/aacnme