12 Clinical Nurse Specialist Skills: Definition and Examples

By ResumeCat Editorial Team
Updated June 7, 2023

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an advanced practice registered nurse who provides direct care to patients, as well as education and support to other nurses. CNSs have a deep understanding of a particular area of nursing, such as pediatrics, oncology, or geriatrics. The skills that CNSs use to care for patients and support other nurses include: patient assessment, diagnosis and treatment, health promotion and disease prevention, and patient education. CNSs also use their advanced knowledge to conduct research and develop new nursing protocols and procedures.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Resume Example

Clinical Nurse Specialist Skills


As a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), you will be working with patients, families, and other healthcare professionals on a daily basis. Excellent communication skills are essential in order to effectively collaborate with others and provide high-quality patient care. You will need to be able to clearly communicate your clinical expertise and knowledge, as well as understand and interpret the information that others are sharing with you. Good communication skills will also help you build strong relationships with your patients and their families, which can lead to better health outcomes.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation and make a judgement about what to do. It is important for clinical nurse specialists because they often have to make decisions about patient care.

Nursing assessment

The ability to perform a comprehensive nursing assessment is critical for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). This skill allows the CNS to collect data about a patient's physical, psychological, and social status in order to develop an individualized plan of care. Furthermore, regular reassessment of patients is necessary to monitor their response to treatment and make necessary adjustments.

Nursing diagnosis

A nursing diagnosis is a statement that indicates a specific patient problem or need. It is based on an assessment of the patient's health status and is used to guide the nurse's care plan.

Planning and implementation of nursing care

The ability to plan and implement nursing care is a critical skill for clinical nurse specialists. They need to be able to assess patients' needs, develop care plans, and coordinate care delivery. This skill is essential in ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.

Evaluation of nursing care

Evaluating nursing care is important in order to ensure that patients are receiving the best possible care. This skill allows Clinical Nurse Specialists to identify areas where improvements can be made and to make recommendations accordingly.

Health promotion and education

The ability to promote health and educate patients is an important skill for clinical nurse specialists. This skill is necessary in order to help patients understand how to maintain their health and prevent disease. Additionally, clinical nurse specialists need to be able to provide patients with information about available resources and support services.

Disease prevention

The ability to prevent disease is a critical skill for any clinical nurse specialist. By understanding how diseases develop and spread, clinical nurse specialists can take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This may involve developing and implementing infection control protocols, educating patients and families about disease prevention, or working with other healthcare professionals to promote healthy lifestyles.

Psychosocial support

Psychosocial support is the provision of emotional and social support to people who are experiencing a difficult or stressful life event. It can include practical assistance, such as providing information or helping to access services, as well as emotional support, such as listening to someone's concerns and providing reassurance.

People who are going through a difficult experience may find it helpful to talk to someone who can offer impartial support and advice. Clinical nurse specialists have the training and skills necessary to provide this type of support.

Physical assessment

A physical assessment is a vital part of any clinical nurse specialist's (CNS) job. It allows the CNS to gather information about a patient's overall health and well-being, and to identify any potential problems. This skill is important because it helps the CNS to provide better care for their patients and to make more informed decisions about treatment.

Laboratory testing

Laboratory testing is a vital part of the clinical nurse specialist role. It helps to diagnose and treat patients by providing information about their condition.

Medication administration

The ability to administer medication safely and effectively is a critical skill for any clinical nurse specialist. Medication errors can have serious consequences for patients, so it is important that nurses have the knowledge and skills necessary to select, prepare, and administer medications correctly. This skill is also important because clinical nurse specialists often work with patients who have complex medical needs and require multiple medications.

How to improve clinical nurse specialist skills

As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, so too must the skills of those who work within it. Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are a vital part of the nursing workforce, and as such, it is essential that they keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Here are some tips on how CNSs can improve their skills:

1. Stay current with evidence-based practice: As new research is published, CNSs should make sure to keep up with the latest findings. This means reading journal articles, attending conferences and seminars, and engaging in other forms of professional development.

2. Develop a specialty: While all CNSs have a broad knowledge base, developing a specialty can make them even more valuable to their patients and colleagues. This could involve focusing on a particular population (e.g., children, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses), type of care (e.g., primary care, mental health), or setting (e.g., hospital, community clinic).

3. hone their communication skills: Good communication is essential for any healthcare professional, but it is especially important for CNSs. They need to be able to effectively communicate with patients, families, and other members of the healthcare team. This includes being able to explain complex medical concepts in layman’s terms and providing emotional support when needed.

4. Stay organized: A CNS’s job can be very demanding, so it is important that they stay organized and efficient in their work. This means keeping accurate records, being aware of deadlines, and knowing where to find information quickly when it is needed.

5. Be adaptable: The healthcare field is constantly changing, so CNSs need to be adaptable to change as well. They should be open to new ideas and willing to try new approaches when necessary.

By following these tips, CNSs can improve their skills and better serve their patients and the healthcare system as a whole.

How to highlight clinical nurse specialist skills

You will want to highlight your skills as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in general by discussing your experience in the field, your ability to provide care to patients, and your knowledge of the latest treatments and procedures. You should also mention any awards or recognition you have received for your work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist.

On a resume

In order to highlight your skills as a Clinical Nurse Specialist on your resume, you should include information about your experience working in a clinical setting, as well as your education and training in this area. You should also highlight any specialties or areas of expertise that you have.

In a cover letter

In your cover letter, be sure to highlight your skills as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. Include your experience working with patients, your knowledge of medical procedures, and your ability to provide excellent patient care. Be sure to detail how you can benefit the company you are applying to and why they should consider you for the position.

During an interview

When you are interviewed for a Clinical Nurse Specialist position, be sure to highlight your skills in patient care, communication, and leadership. You can talk about your experience in providing direct patient care, as well as your experience in leading and communicating with teams of nurses. Be sure to emphasize your commitment to providing high-quality patient care and your ability to work collaboratively with other members of the healthcare team.