Quick Tips for Study Motivation

I'm going to make a sweeping assumption here. Every student in every field of study has struggled to get motivated to do schoolwork. Burnout is real, and it leaves the motivation piggybank pretty low at all times.  Especially in accelerated programs that cram 2 years of content into 1, it's often hard to force yourself away from the Netflix to get back to studying. Although I was a part of an accelerated nursing program that taught 4 years of content in 2 years, I still managed to stay on top of my studies. Keep reading to find out how I stayed motivated with a few simple techniques for re-booting when focus runs low.

1. Treat yo' self!

As a wise duo of Parks & Rec characters once said, "Treat yo' self!" If you don't have a reward system in place for completing your studies, then you're missing out big time on some huge motivation. A reward can be big or small. It can cost absolutely nothing, or it can include buying yourself some fancy gift you've been eyeing down at the mall. Throughout nursing school, I motivated myself with rewards all the time. For example, I wouldn't let myself check my texts until I finished one section of notes (treat yo' self). In another example, I told myself that if I could finish 3 chapters of flashcards in one day, then I could buy myself a new pair of shoes (treat yo' self). Your reward can be as simple as going outside for some fresh air, or as silly as putting a gummy bear at the end of each paragraph in your textbook while reading (TREAT. YO. SELF). Or, if you don't get any of these lame attempts at jokes, you can reward yourself by binging Parks & Recreation on Netflix.... as long as you've completed your homework for the day. 😉 Whatever your treat may be, make sure you follow through on rewarding yourself with what you had promised!

2. Get up & move

I know the easiest thing to do while tired is to spend some quality bonding time with your bed. Unfortunately, laying around might only make you more tired and less motivated to get to work. If you're feeling the motivation running low, you should try getting up and getting active, even if it's only for a few minutes. Go for a walk, stretch it out with some yoga, or go ramp up the energy with a weight lifting session. Whatever it may be, it's useful for your energy levels to get your blood pumping! So, get off the couch and give it a try.

3. Study in the most enjoyable way possible

This one seems a bit intuitive, but it should not go without mentioning. If your study routine feels like torture, why would you ever want to go through with it? Try to make your study session as enjoyable as possible. Make sure your study space is comfortable. Play your favorite instrumental music playlist on Spotify. Make some yummy tea or coffee to sip while you're hitting the books. Bring your laptop out into the great outdoors and soak up a bit of Vitamin E while you absorb all that knowledge. If you get lonely while studying, grab a friend so that you're not alone! All of these tips will make studying a lot less dreadful. Heck, you might even look forward to studying if you get creative enough!

4. Stop studying

This tip, on the other hand, is quite counter-intuitive. Hear me out, though. If you've been cramming for hours on end, you need to take a rest. There is no possible way you will feel happy and motivated at all if you are constantly running on fumes. You need to let your brain relax so that you don't drive yourself crazy. Scheduling rest breaks, or just taking them when you feel exhausted, are equally as important as your time spent working. How are you going to retain any information if your brain is overstimulated and overtired? I'll answer that for you. You won't. So, kick your feet up for a minute, go back to point number 1, and take a well-deserved rest with a treat of your choice. Happy studying!

My Skincare Routine

Every beauty guru knows that good skin is the basis of a good beauty routine. Skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it's the focus of our external selves. Our skin reflects our health and has a huge impact on our self-confidence. I've struggled with my skin for years. I've had acne since I was in 5th grade. I'm now in my mid-20s, and it has finally just begun to subside a bit. I'm no beauty guru by any means, but I've tried everything to achieve "perfect" skin. From prescription drugs, creams, gels, to homemade remedies, the over-complication of my skincare routine seemed to only irritate my skin. It's taken a long time, but I've finally settled into a skincare regimen that works for me and keeps my skin feeling fresh, clean, and smooth. In this post, I've outlined my simple skincare routine and shared my favorite products so that you can give them a try, too.

Most of the products I use are very affordable items that you can pick up at your local drugstore or supermarket. I do have a few staples, though, that are on the pricier side. These "splurge" products are ones that I have definitely found to be worth their cost, and they go a long way. Let me know in the comments below if you've tried or loved any of these products!

Daily Routine

My daily skincare routine includes AM and PM care. I use the same products in the same sequence when I wake up and before I go to bed. My daily routine includes wash, hydration, & eye cream.

1. Wash: Alba Botanica AcneDote

This is a simple and effective face wash that I've been using for a while now. It costs about $6 and can be found at Target and some drugstores. It's vegetarian, cruelty free, and contains 2% salicylic acid and willow bark extract for that extra acne-fighting boost. The AcneDote face wash doesn't dry out my skin at all, and as an added bonus, it has a nice fresh scent. For less than ten dollars, it's more than worth an addition to your skincare arsenal.

2. Hydration: Cetaphil Pro Moisturizer

This Cetaphil moisturizer has been a staple of mine for over 5 years. I have combination skin, which can get quite oily at times in my t-zone. Prior to finding this product, I was always searching for a moisturizer that didn't leave my skin looking greasy. I was constantly blotting the oil off my face and was often ashamed at how greasy my skin looked. I'm not exaggerating in any way, but ever since I started using this, I've seen a dramatic reduction in the shininess of my skin. My skin is constantly hydrated without being greasy or oily. As a bonus, the moisturizer contains SPF 32 broad spectrum sun protection. You can pick it up at almost any drugstore, and it'll run you about $14. One bottle usually lasts me about 3-4 months. I can't go anywhere without this moisturizer, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with  oily/combination skin.

3. Eye cream: R+F Bright Eye Complex

My AM/PM routine used to only include face wash and lotion. Now that I'm midway through my 20s, I've started to notice some pesky dark circles under my eyes. This R+F serum is a new product I've been using, and it's like a tiny bottle of magic. It's an illuminating and hydrating gel cream that helps diminish the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. A little bit goes a very long way with this one. All you have to do is put a little dot of the serum under each eye, gently pat it in, and go your way as a bright eyed & bushy tailed babe. The effect of this product is cumulative, meaning it's not just a quick fix. Its effect builds over time, and you'll notice your dark circles fading within the first couple of weeks of use. Before I started using it, I was piling on the under-eye concealer before going in to work my night shifts. Once I added this into my routine, I stopped using my concealer for my fresh-faced makeup look. Full transparency: this product is one of my splurge-worthy items. Its retail cost is $70, BUT there are ways to get special discounts and promotions on R+F products. If you are interested in giving it a try and learning more about this one, I'll list my R+F rep's contact info at the end of this post. She let me in on some ways to get free products as well, which I'll share below, too.

As Needed Products

In addition to my daily AM/PM routine, I have a few ride or die PRN products. (PRN is nurse-speak for as needed). These three faves include two affordable products and one splurge-worthy product. All three of them are a VERY highly recommended addition to your skincare routine. It's safe to say I'm obsessed.

Freeman Clay Mask

Face masks. I've probably tried over a hundred different face masks, and of most them don't do anything for me. In a gracious contradiction, this clay mask from Freeman has done wonders for my skin. I've gone through numerous bottles of this stuff because it really is that good. The best thing about it (other than the fact that it'll make your skin feel amazing) is that it's only $4. This magical green mask, made with avocado, oatmeal, and vitamin E, will leave your skin as smooth as a baby's bottom. Whenever my skin is flaring up with acne and redness, I'll use this mask, leave it on for about 5-10 minutes, then wash it off to reveal a much smoother, calmer face. It reduces redness instantly. Did I mention it leaves your skin EXTREMELY SMOOTH? Try this one. You won't regret it.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

If you haven't heard of this popular product, you're missing out. This little bottle of drying lotion is a spot treatment for pimples. It zaps zits like no other. Some people are a bit confused by its presentation since it doesn't look like your conventional spot treatments. All you have to do with this little elixir is dip a cotton swab into the pink sediment at the bottom, and apply it to your problem areas. This tiny bottle is a borderline splurge, but since it lasts so long, I wouldn't really consider it one. It's $17, but you should only be using a small dot of the product at a time. If I didn't share this bottle with my boyfriend (I got him hooked on this one), it would probably last me about 4 months. You can find this product at Ulta or your local beauty supply store.

Dermalogica Microfoliant

Say hello to the first skincare product I ever threw down major bucks on. This splurge-worthy  exfoliating scrub costs about $60 and can be found at Ulta or your local beauty store. I've been using the same bottle for months, and I'm not even close to running out. I use this once a week to exfoliate and improve the texture of my skin. The product is a fine white rice-based powder, and you pour a tiny amount in your damp hands while in the shower. Once you rub it in, it transforms into an exfoliating paste. I love this product because it truly does leave my skin looking extremely refreshed and feeling ultra smooth. If you're unsure about spending a bunch of money on this, ask an employee at Ulta or Sephora if they have any samples or small bottles so you can give it a try. I have no doubts that you'll love it. Once winter rolls around and my skin starts acting up, I know I won't be going long without this product.

Extra Info/Deals

Rodan + Fields:

For more info on the eye bright serum or what products would work for your skin, contact Erica from R+F. If you mention The Trendy Nurse and become a preferred customer, she'll hook you up with a FREE full size product. Now that's what I'm talking about!

R+F Rep, Erica: ericadeads@gmail.com

Nursing School: How to Prepare for Clinical

I remember my first clinical day of nursing school like it was yesterday. I was so nervous that I was sure I would forget how to simply introduce myself and say hello to my patient. Our clinical instructor was thoughtful enough to pair us up with another student so that we wouldn't feel overwhelmed. It helped a bit, but I still felt anxious and a bit lost. In order to help the up and coming nurses of the world, I've written this blog post on how to prepare for clinical. I even included a link to a few tools you can use at the bottom of the post to help you feel more organized. The tips in this post can be applied to a student at any point in their nursing school journey. This advice is not just for your first clinical rotation ever. There will be useful hints throughout to help any clinical experience go along more smoothly.

1. Get in the right state of mind.

No matter what I tell you, you're going to be nervous. Being a nursing student floating around a unit of experienced nurses and techs is intimidating. It's only natural to be nervous, so embrace that feeling, take the adrenaline, and let it fuel your learning. Your state of mind does not have to be at peace. All you have to do with that excited energy is be open minded and ready to learn, and you'll have a great experience. All the nurses and other staff will know you're a student. They're well aware that you're there to practice and learn. You'll be able to explain to them, "I'm a ____ year nursing student, and this is what I'm comfortable/uncomfortable doing." Nobody expects you to know everything, so don't worry if you have a lot of questions and uncertainties. So, get in that open state of mind and be ready to learn!

2. Know what skills you need to practice.

In order to have a good experience with your nurse-preceptor, you have to know what you're showing up to do. Knowing the skills you need to practice at clinical will make your experience more enriching and goal-directed. You will feel so much more comfortable heading into clinical if you have a list of tasks that you hope to accomplish. Before you go to clinical, you should write down a list of the skills you need to practice that week. You might even have a list provided by your course director. Each clinical week, you can refer to that list by adding skills or marking off skills that you've built competency in. Make sure you bring in a short list of maybe 2 or 3 main skills you'd like to accomplish in the clinical day. That way, you can be focused each day on checking off a few skills from the larger list.

Once you're on the unit, make sure you make your nurse-preceptor aware of the skills you're seeking out. They will be able to ask around the unit to find the learning opportunities you seek. Don't be afraid to do this! If your specific patient doesn't have much going on, this will help to get more hands on experience around the unit with different patients and nurses. You might not be able to practice your more advanced skills until you're working as an RN, so seek out these opportunities to learn while you can. If you want to get way ahead of the game, you can even email your preceptor days before to request patients who may have certain things like drains, wounds, trachs, chest tubes, etc... That way, you can really get the practice you want.

3. Print a report sheet tool.

There are many different report sheets available online to help you organize your patient information. Some examples are included in the links at the bottom of this post. Print a few report sheets and keep them in your clinical folder so that you can write down this information while getting report on your patient(s). This information will help you have a clear picture of what's going on with your patient and what you need to do to care for them. Once you start handing off patients to other nurses later in your nursing school career, you'll find these tools to be especially helpful. If you notice that the nurses on your unit use a different report sheet format, ask them if you can get a few copies so you can give report the way they do it.

4. Prepare the night before.

Prepare everything you need for your clinical days the night before. You don't ever want to be rushed on the way to clinical, so use this checklist to make sure you have everything you need. Make sure you check Google Maps on a similar day of the week at the time of your commute to see what traffic is like at the time you'll be heading out. Iron or steam your uniform the night before so you don't look like you just rolled out of bed in your scrubs. Set however many alarms you need to make sure you wake up on time. It's only going to stress you out and throw you off for the day if you're running late, so give yourself ample time to get ready. Below, you'll find my checklist along with a few links to report sheets and useful clinical tools!

Pre-Clinical Checklist

  • Clinical instructor phone number in your phone

  • Address/location of clinical

  • Double check start & end time

  • Lunch/Snack

  • Water bottle

  • Report sheet

  • Skills checklist (you can jot a brief checklist down on your report sheet)

  • Stethoscope

  • Pen light

  • Watch with a second hand

  • Pen or pencil

  • Notebook or clipboard w/ paper

  • Ponytail holder (never get caught without one in an ISO room)

  • Sweatshirt or scrub jacket (it's usually freezing in hospitals)

  • Any clinical-specific assignments or instructions you may need

  • Anything else I forgot! But don't go overboard... you don't want to bring a giant backpack full of stuff onto your clinical unit.

Report sheets:

Normal values:

5 Tips for Thriving on Night Shift

Night shift.

It's the taboo phrase on the tongue of every daytime worker. Techs tell tales of darkness that could only have come from the graveyard shift. Nursing students fear it. Sundowners anticipate it like the vagabonds of the West await Burning Man. If you say it out loud, your manager might call you and tell you... "Hi, um, we need you to switch to nights."

Night shift. Is it really that bad? Let me be honest and tell you that I wanted to work during the daytime more than anything. Fast forward a few months from that phone call from my manager, and I am thriving on nights. I'm making more money, I'm bonding with my awesome night crew of coworkers, and I'm appreciating the nighttime workflow. I wanted to share this post with you all to help alleviate the fear of nights by giving you 5 tips for thriving on night shift.

1. Prioritize sleep

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is vital to thriving on night shift. It goes without saying that if you don't sleep, you won't be happy, and you won't be able to do your job effectively. Not only will it affect your job, but it may affect your personal relationships and social life as well. So, take a minute realign your priorities and put yourself and your rest at the top of the list. Schedule yourself a time to sleep that works for you before/after night shifts. It may take a little trial and error to get into a groove, but you will find a pattern of sleep that works for you! I'm going to share with you the way I sleep and what has been working wonderfully for me. You can find my personal sleep schedule at the bottom of this post. This is not an evidence-based recommendation, but it's what allows me to get the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep and helps me stay balanced and happy.

2. Create a caffeine cutoff time

This tip goes hand in hand with prioritizing sleep. The amount of caffeine you drink overnight will affect your sleep the next day. Although throwing back as many Monsters as possible might sound like a good way to get through the night shift, it doesn't come without drawbacks. As I've discussed in other posts, caffeine has a half life of about 6 hours. So, if you drink coffee at 5 AM before your shift ends, 3/4 of the caffeine will be in your system at 8 AM, and half of it will still be in your system at 11 AM. This is why I cut myself off from caffeinated beverages around 2 AM. That way, at 8 AM when I get home to go to sleep, I won't be kept awake by the caffeine that's hanging out in my system. If you're super sensitive to caffeine, you may want to make that cutoff time a bit earlier depending on when your shift ends. That being said, if you're struggling to keep your eyes open before morning med pass, it might be necessary to refuel past that cutoff time.

3. Advocate for your schedule

Keep schedule as regular as possible with as many rest days you can get between your bundle of shifts. If you're flipping between having a social life during the day and working at night every other day of the week, it's going to be hard for your circadian rhythm to regulate itself. I try to schedule my shifts in bundles of 3 as close together as possible with a break of 4 days between shifts. That way, my body is happy with me staying awake for 4 days in a row then staying up 3 nights in a row. I've been lucky enough to have a job that allows for self-scheduling, and my manager is really great with working with our requested schedules. If you are not so fortunate, and your manager keeps scheduling you for sporadic shifts, be sure to advocate for yourself by meeting with them to talk about your schedule. Your rest is vital to your health and to the care of your patients, so it needs to be taken seriously.

4. Take small snack breaks

Even though we all know we need good food to fuel our hardworking bodies, it can be weird to eat a meal at 2 AM. I've found that it makes my stomach act up, and by the morning change of shift, I'm doubled over in stomach cramps. Because of this, I've had a hard time eating full meals in the middle of the night. What works for me is to make sure I have a few snack breaks so that I have some fuel in me to get me through the night. I've found that my digestive system is a bit happier when I have these small snacks compared to one big ol' dinner at the witching hour. It's really easy to throw together a healthy snack pack with a few things you can munch on. I like to bring a piece of fruit, a protein bar, trail mix, and maybe even a piece of dark chocolate (hi, caffeine!) to fulfill that sweet tooth.

5. Stay busy

If you're the kind of person who finds your eyelids involuntarily closing once night time rolls around, you may need to keep yourself busy during your night shift. With the crazy nights I've been having lately, I have not had a problem with this. Sometimes, though, there is a lull in the work and the unit can become very - dare I say it? - quiet. On quiet nights, team up with your techs and help them get patients changed and cleaned. If one coworker is drowning while you have down time, offer to help complete some of their tasks. If there is a lack of patient care to be completed, get to cleaning. Everyone could always appreciate a nice saniwipe party at the nurses' station. Staying busy with tasks is the best way to keep yourself alert during the night shift. It also won't hurt that your coworkers will love you if you're willing to help them with their work.

My sleep schedule: 

For a bit of background, I work 7 PM to 7 AM and 3 shifts per week. I'm going to split this section up into a few different scenarios of how my typical week looks. Let's pretend like I've just enjoyed a long weekend of daytime activities, and now I have to flip to being a night owl for my shifts at the beginning of the week. My schedule for the hypothetical week includes a Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday shift.

Going back to nights after a weekend. 

If I've just spent a few days off work and I'm going to work the next day (i.e. working Sunday night), I try to stay up late on Saturday night, then I would sleep in as long as possible on Sunday morning. If I accidentally wake up around 9 AM on Sunday or have to get up early for some other reason, I go about my day, and then around 2 PM I get into my room, shut the blackout blinds, and nap for a few hours. I wake up around 5 PM to get ready for work, and I'm on my way into the night shift!

Sleeping after a night shift. 

When I get home from work in the morning, around 8 AM, I go right to sleep, sometimes after eating a small meal. I set my alarm for 4:30 PM so that I can get ready for work, have a meal, and see a bit of the daytime before I go back to work. Although I set my alarm for 4:30, sometimes I only sleep until 3. You'll find that your body sometimes just wakes you up at random hours of the day, and it's best to try to go back to sleep if you can. It doesn't always work though. So, if I physically cannot sleep as long as I had planned, I use that time before work to enjoy some daylight by exercising or running errands. Then, I go to work at night and repeat this pattern until the end of my third shift on Wednesday morning.

Sleeping before flipping back to a daytime schedule

On Wednesday morning when I get back from my third night shift in a row, I go right to sleep and try to wake up around 1 or 2 PM. Yes, this is less sleep than usual, but it's still about 5-6 hours, which isn't bad. I get up a bit earlier like this because I need to sleep at night like a normal human in order to flip back into a weekend full of daytime activities. This might not work for some people, but I've found that I am surprisingly rested by 2, and with a cup of coffee, I'm able to enjoy the day then get back to sleep at night. Then, viola, the next morning I wake up with the rest of the world when the sun comes up! Okay, fine. I usually wake up the next morning at like 11 AM, but the next day after that, it's a bit easier to get up early. After spending a few days with my loved ones, I go back to step one and do it all again!

I hope you've all enjoyed this article and that you've found it useful in some way. Feel free to leave your tips for night shift in the comments, and make sure you follow me on my social media accounts to stay connected!

My Fitness Journey

Fitness versus wellness... is there a difference? I think I have always strived for fitness but haven’t always been focused on wellness. To me, wellness includes having a healthy routine that fuels your body AND your mental wellbeing.

For nearly all my life I have been an athlete. I played ice hockey since I was in first grade, and through those years I was also dedicated to softball, cheerleading, and dabbled in soccer, basketball, and volleyball. These sports involved a lot of strength and endurance.

I was a bit more “thick” than other little girls. I had leg muscles from long and intense hockey practices, and I remember one time telling my mom that I thought I was fat. She showed me a picture of Serena Williams on a magazine cover and told me, “look at her. She is so muscular, and she is strong and beautiful, like you!” Looking back, I can’t believe I felt this way about my body when I was a child. Once I got to high school, I began focusing my time on cheerleading. I think after many years of being a tomboy, I wanted to focus my athleticism on something “cuter” and “cooler.” So, I dropped all my other sports, even my childhood favorite, which was being on the ice and kicking the boys’ butts in hockey.

Being a high school cheerleader was physically and mentally crushing. I pushed my body to the limits, all the while consuming less than 1,000 calories a day. Sophomore year, I was one of three girls my age to make the varsity team. The varsity squad was almost all seniors, and I felt intimidated and inferior. The team I was on was all about looking and being perfect, and it took a serious toll on my happiness. It also messed with my body. Our practices focused on tricks and stunts, and I was throwing tumbling passes that I was not fundamentally prepared to do. At the time, I weighed 100 pounds and was lifting senior flyers who were incredible athletes and were heavier than me. They were not happy, to say the least, when I couldn’t keep them up in the air. I developed aches and pains in every joint of my body, and my back was constantly aching. No one ever taught us how to be safe. They only wanted us to look perfect, at all costs. Long story short, I ended up  quitting cheerleading, and this was the unfortunate last experience I had playing sports. I was left with a feeling of defeat and a distaste for the shape and abilities of my own body.

For the rest of the year after I quit, I started hitting the gym to make up for the physical activity I was no longer getting. I strictly focused on cardio, spending excessive amounts of time on the elliptical or treadmill. I counted calories obsessively and restricted my diet in ways that were unhealthy for a growing teenager. This pattern was thankfully interrupted late in my high school career once I became active in the performing arts at my school. I finally began channeling my energy into something positive instead of being narrowed in on finding a way to make my body shrink. Being a part of theatre and competitive speech allowed me to grow into a mentally strong and confident woman. I finally felt that I had value as a person because I felt talented and respected. I belonged to a group of people who were accepting and loving of everyone.

In college, I didn’t continue to take part in the performing arts, but I will forever recognize that it saved my mental health in my late teens. I had a wonderful college experience and didn’t focus much on fitness and exercise, but the negative feelings about my body lingered. I went to the gym and went for runs occasionally, but I wasn’t very consistent. I gained weight throughout college, and graduated at the heaviest weight I have ever been in my life. My body did not look the way I necessarily wanted it to, and I didn't have a way to be active and athletic without falling back into a poor relationship with my self image.

This pattern continued for me until grad school, when I met my boyfriend. He is very into lifting weights, and he does it because he loves it. He has a healthy balanced life and enjoys his fitness routine because it makes him feel good about himself. What a concept! I had never experienced that before. I started lifting weights with him, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I began to really love it. Exercising finally felt good to me because it meant that I could become stronger. I could gain something from working out instead of always focusing on losing. I could set goals for myself and look at myself in the mirror and see that I was getting stronger! This was so exciting to me, and two years later, it still is. I can honestly say that lifting weights has saved my self esteem. I love walking into the gym and feeling powerful. I love seeing how my body can surprise me with what I'm able to do. And most importantly, I love my body. I love the way I look and I have never felt better in my own skin.

In the two years that I’ve been lifting, I’ve had different phases. Sometimes I go to the gym every day. Sometimes I only make it a few times a week, and sometimes I don’t make it at all. Either way, I’ve learned that it’s okay. Why? Because your body is your HOME, and it’s meant for feeling healthy, safe, and secure. Yes, there is pressure to strive for a certain aesthetic. Yes, I still have moments when I feel a lack of confidence and wished I looked like the fitness models I see on Instagram. I still feel moments of guilt and have bad days, too, but at the end of the day I can say I am thankful. Thankful that I am healthy, strong, and happy. As everything in life goes, finding wellness in fitness is a process. I am a work in progress, and overall, I’m still learning to love myself more with each passing day. 

The Role of the CNL

As a Clinical Nurse Leader, I get a lot of questions about what exactly a CNL does and has to offer to a healthcare setting. The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) is a nursing leadership role that was first introduced in 2003 (AACN, 2013). The CNL is a valuable leader who can contribute his or her leadership skills at the point of care to benefit patients and health care organizations. CNLs are master’s educated registered nurses (RNs) who work to maximize patient care outcomes at the point of care in any setting where healthcare is delivered (AACN, 2013).
How is a CNL's education different than a  a BSN degree?
CNLs have a master’s level education that prepares them to be experts in leadership and evidence-based practice (Thompson & Lutham, 2007). While BSN programs focus on direct patient assessment and care, a CNL’s education goes beyond that with an additional focus on leadership. Throughout their education, CNLs practice clinical problem solving and focus on maximizing quality of care across the care continuum. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) delineates this education in the CNL competencies, which outline the curriculum foci (AACN, 2013). Some examples include systems leadership, quality improvement, translating scholarship to practice, and advocacy (AACN, 2013).
How is a CNL different from other master’s prepared nurses?
Unlike master’s prepared RNs who may have specialized in nursing administration or clinical nurse education, a CNL’s contribution begins at the bedside. CNLs work with bedside nurses as a partner and source of support. CNLs translate evidence-based practice to action, coordinate with the interdisciplinary team, and ensure safe, individualized plans of patient care, especially during transitions of care (Wienand et al., 2015). In these ways, the CNL is a safety net for patients and an impetus for evidence-based change within a microsystem.
What kind of career opportunities are available for CNLs?
Although it is a fairly new role, the CNL position is increasing in popularity. As the role gains popularity and recognition for its value, more hospitals are creating CNL positions. According to a survey of the current job market, a nurse working as a CNL can expect a median salary of about $82,000 with the potential to earn upwards of $100,000 (Graduate Nursing Edu, 2018). The CNL role is typically fulfilled by a nurse who has at least a year of bedside nursing experience. CNLs may be hired onto different shifts depending on the needs of the hiring organization. According to Graduate Nursing Edu (2018), the day-to-day workflow of the CNL involves the following duties:
- Facilitating collaborative care for patients
- Providing mentoring to nursing staff
- Establishing and overseeing a healthy working environment
- Collecting and evaluating patient risks, outcomes, and care plans
- Coordinating direct care activities among nursing staff
- Providing lateral integration of healthcare services
How does a CNL certification help outside of the direct CNL role?
Even if your local hospitals or community healthcare providers don't currently have positions available for the CNL role, a CNL certification is useful for any bedside nurse. The CNL education empowers nurses with the leadership skills necessary to being a positive force for systemic change. The CNL curriculum does this by providing education on how to identify a system's needs for improvement and successfully implement evidence-based quality improvement projects. Having a CNL certification may also give you a competitive edge when applying to RN positions, as you will be able to articulate your background in clinical leadership. If you're interested in becoming a CNL, follow this link to see what opportunities may be in your area.

AACN. (2013). Competencies and curricular expectations for Clinical Nurse Leader education and practice [PDF]. American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Graduate Nursing Edu. (2018). Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) job description. Retrieved from https://www.graduatenursingedu.org/clinical-nurse-leader/
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