Career Exploration Program


Clinical nurse specialist

Clinical Nurse Specialists are licensed Registered Nurses who further their education through Master’s or Doctorate Programs that prepares them to practice nursing in a specialty field or population.  They work to provide theory and evidence-based care to patients/clients in their attainment of health goals in certain specialties. 


Clinical Nurse Specialists possess advanced knowledge of the science of nursing with a specialty focus and apply that knowledge to assessments, diagnoses, interventions, and the design of innovations. 

They are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of illness as well as in the delivery of evidence-based nursing interventions and in executing delegated medical regimens associated with the diagnosis and treatment of disease for a specialty population. 

Specialty Areas

Specialties continue to evolve as science progresses but are mainly classified in terms of population, setting, type of care, or disease/medical condition.  Clinical Nurse Specialists can be found in many areas of the hospital including Nutrition Services and Women’s and Children’s Health.


Along with interacting with patients, they must work collaboratively with physicians to direct and consult patient care, and can supervise or serve as a resource for nursing personnel including Staff Nurses and Nurse Managers.


After completing education and a license to become an RN, further education in a Master’s program in Nursing Practice is required, and a Doctorate Program is recommended.  Clinical Nurse Specialists usually gain clinical experience first as an RN and must be certified with a particular nursing specialty.


Master’s and Doctorate Programs - OHSU - University of Portland


Oregon Clinical Nurse Specialist License

Specialty Certification

ANCC—American Nurses Credentialing Center
AACN—American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
ONCC—Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation