Leading Initiatives

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

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The Clinical Nurse LeaderSM or CNL® is a master’s educated nurse, prepared for practice across the continuum of care within any healthcare setting. The CNL was developed by AACN in collaboration with leaders from healthcare practice and education to address the critical need to improve the quality of patient care outcomes.

The CNL is a clinical leader - at the point of care – who focuses on:  

- Care Coordination - Outcomes Measurement
- Transitions of Care - Interprofessional Communication & Team Leadership
- Risk Assessment - Implementation of Best Practices Based on Evidence

- Quality Improvement



News & Announcements

New Recommended CNL Practice Experiences
AACN has released a list of 24 experiences that are deemed to be critical for preparing CNL graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively perform in diverse practice settings and systems upon graduation. The list was developed by an Expert Panel comprised of CNL faculty, representatives from practice, and practicing CNLs.

CNC Welcomes New CNCBOC Members and Item Writers
Congratulations to the New CNC Board of Commissioners (CNCBOC) and Item Writers who will start their terms on July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2020. CNC staff, current CNCBOC members and Item Writers look forward to their contributions.

AACN Announces 2017 CNL Visionary Leader and Vanguard Awards
AACN is pleased to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Murphy, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Mercy Health Saint Mary's, is the recipient of the 2017 CNL Visionary Leader Award. The highest honor presented by AACN to practice leaders making significant contributions to advancing the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) initiative, this award will be presented at the 2017 CNL Summit in Atlanta, GA on February 22, 2017. The CNL Vanguard Award, which recognizes the innovative work of CNL-certified nurses and CNL nurse educators, will also be presented to Dr. Bonnie Haupt from South Texas VA Healthcare System and Dr. Tricia Thomas from Grand Valley State University.

CNC Call for Volunteers
The Commission on Nurse Certification is now accepting applications for two available positions on the CNC Board of Commissioners (CNCBOC) and thirteen positions on the Item Writers Committee. CNCBOC and Item Writer positions require a three-year commitment. Download the guidelines and application or contact CNC’s Staff at cnl@aacn.nche.edu for more information.

New CNL Exam Content Outline Released
The 2016 CNL Job Analysis is complete! Thanks to all certified CNLs who completed the survey. Candidates registered to take the exam between November 28, 2016 and February 17, 2017 will use the Current Exam Content Outline to prepare. Candidates registered to take the exam beginning April 2017 and beyond will use the New CNL Exam Content Outline

CNL Certification Exam Pass Score Update
CNL Subject Matter Experts along with CNC's testing vendor completed the item writing workshop and approved a new form for the CNL Certification Exam. The exam is still comprised of 140 questions, of which 130 are scored (10 questions are used as pre-test questions). As of April 25, 2016, the new exam passing score is 89. Learn more about the CNL Certification Exam Pass Score.

CNL Job Analysis
CNC along with Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc. will begin the CNL Job Analysis process April 11-12, 2016 in Clearwater, Florida. The CNCBOC has approved 12 CNLs as members of the Job Analysis Committee. The Job Analysis Survey will be released May 2016 and will close July 2016. The final Job Analysis Report and updated Exam Content Outline will be made available in Fall 2016. A new CNL exam based on the updated Exam Content Outline will be administered in Spring 2017.