CNL Recommended Reading

CNL Recommended Reading

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CNC has prepared a list of recommended reading materials submitted by CNL educators that may be helpful in preparing for the CNL exam, in addition to AACN's Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse LeaderSM Education and Practice.

NOTE: The list does not guarantee successful passing of the certification exam nor is it inclusive of all reading materials used by CNL education programs. CNC does not endorse any of the publications listed below nor does it have a proprietary relationship with any publishing company.


Black, B. P. (2014). Professional nursing: concepts and challenges. 7th Ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier/Saunders.

Borkowski, N. (2016). Organizational behavior, theory, and design in health care. 2nd Ed. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Burhardt, M.A. & Nathaniel, A.K. (2014). Ethics & issues in contemporary nursing. 4th Ed. Stanford, CT: Cengage.

Harris, J.L., Roussel, L.A. & Thomas, T. (2014). Initiating and sustaining the clinical nurse leader role: a practical guide. 2nd Ed. Burlington, MA:  Jones & Bartlett.

Marquis, B. & Huston, C. (2017). Leadership Roles and Management Functions in Nursing. 9th Ed. Wolters Kluwer.

King, C. R. & Gerard, S. (2016). Clinical Nurse Leader Certification Review. 2nd Ed. New York, NY:  Springer.

Mason, D.J., Gardner, D.B, et al. (2016). Policy and politics in nursing and health care. 7th Ed. Elsevier, Inc.

McCance, K.L. & Huether, S.E. (2014). Pathophysiology, the biologic basis for disease in adults and children. 7th Ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier/Mosby.

Melnyk, B. & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2015). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: a guide to best practice. 3rd Ed. Wolters Kluwer Health.

Nelson, E.C., Batalden, P.B. & Godfrey, M.M. (2007). Quality by design: a clinical microsystems approach. Jossey-Bass.

Poter-O’Grady, T. & Malloch, K. (2016). Leadership in Nursing Practice. 2nd Ed., Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning LLC.

Schneider, D. & Lilienfeld, D.E. (2015).  Foundations of epidemiology. 4th Ed., New York, NY:  Oxford University Press.

Saba, V.K. & McCormick K.A. (2015). Essentials of nursing informatics. 6th Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. 


Bender, Mann, and Olsen, (2001). Leading Transformation:  Implementing the Clinical Nurse Leader Role. Journal of Nursing Administration, 41(7-8), 296-298.

Bender, M., Connelly, C., Glaser, D., and Brown, C. (2012). Clinical Nurse Leader Impact on Microsystem Care Quality, Nursing Research, 61(5), 326-332.

Bowcutt, M. & Goolsby, M.J. (2006). The Clinical Nurse Leader: Promoting Patient-Centered Outcomes, Nursing Administration Quarterly, 30(2), 156-161.

McKeon, L.M., Norris, T.L., Webb, S., Hix, C., Ramsey, G., and Jacob, S. R. (2009). Teaching clinical nurse leaders how to diagnose the clinical microsystem. Journal of Professional Nursing, 25(6), 373-378.

Nelson, et al. (2008). Clinical microsystems, part 1. The building blocks of health systems. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 34(7), 367-378.

Sheets, M., et al. (2012). CNL’s Make a Difference, Nursing 2012, 42(8), 54-58. doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000415837.20995.e2

Sherman, Edwards, Giovengo, & Hilton.  The Role of the Clinical Nurse Leader in Promoting a Health Work Environment at the Unit Level. Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, 32(4), 264-271.

NCSBN Model Nursing Practice and Model Nursing Administrative Rules. 

NQF National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Patient Outcomes 2009. 

Pain management in older adults. In: Evidence-based geriatric nursing protocols for best practice.  

Web Resources

Agency for Healthcare and Research and Quality Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2013). Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse LeaderSM Education and Practice. Available at:

Dartmouth Institute (2005). Clinical Microsystems Greenbooks. Available at:

Dartmouth Institute. (2010). Microsystems at a glance. Available at:

IOM: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. (2010). Washington, DC., National Academies Press.

IOM: Keeping patients safe, transforming the work environment of nurses. (2004). Washington, DC., National Academies Press, p. 257.

Lee B., Peck C., Rutherford P. & Shannon D. (2008). Transforming care at the bedside how-to guide: developing front-line nursing managers to lead innovation and improvement. Cambridge, MA: Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Available at:

Health Resources and Services Administration. Series of quality improvement methodology modules:

Health Resources and Services Administration. Clinical quality measures: