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
Thompson, P., & Lutham, K. (2007). Clinical Nurse Leader and Clinical Nurse Specialist role delineation in the acute care setting. Journal of Nursing Administration, 37(10), 429-431.Wienand, D. M., Shah, P. R., Hatcher, B., Jordan, A., Grenier, J. M., Cooper, A. M., . . . Mayer, K. (2015). Implementing the Clinical Nurse Leader role: A care model centered on innovation, efficiency, and excellence. Nurse Leader, 13(4), 78-85. doi:10.1016/j.mnl.2014.11.011

Fashionable Eyewear for Less

Without my glasses or contacts, I'm pretty much as blind as a bat. To add to that burden, each year, my eyes get worse and worse at doing their job. If there's one thing I hate the most about getting a new prescription, it's having to buy a new pair of glasses. Or at least, I used to dislike it. Now, I've discovered a much easier and more affordable way to buy new prescription eyewear: EyeBuyDirect.

Using EyeBuyDirect has allowed me to invest in multiple pairs of cute frames without breaking the bank. Their frames start at only $6, and their most expensive frames are $70, which is still a fraction of the price you'll pay for frames at your eye doctor's office. Their lenses range from $7 for the basic lenses to $40 for advanced lenses. You can also get sunglasses, transition lenses, or multifocal lenses from EyeBuyDirect. All you have to do to get started is create an account on the website, add your personal prescription into your account, and shop to your heart's content.
"Cupertino" in Silver
"Watermelon" in Blue
"Primrose" in Tortoise
The pairs I've purchased from EyeBuyDirect are captioned in the photos. Out of the three of them, the Cupertino frames are my favorite. They seem to be the highest quality, and they have the little pads that sit comfortably on the bridge of your nose. I purchased the basic lenses ($6.95) for the Watermelon frames, and I don't wear them often because the vision quality is not as high as the other pairs. My other two pairs have their "Most Popular Lenses," which cost $18.95 and feature UV-protective, anti-scratch, and anti-reflective coatings. I have yet to try the advanced lenses, but I would recommend opting for those if you wear your glasses daily.
"Merrion" in Black
EyeBuyDirect also has great frames for men. I recommended them to my boyfriend, Chris, and he loves his pairs as well. Not to mention, he look so dang cute in them! Chris picked out his frames using the "try-on" feature on their website that allows you to upload a photo of yourself and get an idea of how the frames would look on your face. If you're ready to get started and pick out some sweet new specs for yourself, sign up using this link and you'll get $10 off your first purchase! Happy shopping!

OOTD: Spring has Sprung

Yesterday was the first day this month that has truly felt like spring here in the Midwest. It got me excited to get dolled up in a flouncy little spring playsuit. I snagged this adorable two-piece set from Forever 21 for about $40. The top has a ruffle detail on the straps, and the bottoms have a paper-bag waist with a bow.
I paired the polka dot set with my favorite accessory find lately. This darling beaded clutch is from Francesca's Collections. It was the last one on the shelf, and I knew I needed it the moment I saw it. It's perfect for a brunch occasion and is bound to snag you a few compliments while you're sipping mimosas in style. The bag features a gold link strap that can be used or tucked inside the bag while you use it.
Sunglasses are something I buy way too many of. I can't keep a handle on small objects without losing them left and right, so I tend to not splurge on sunglasses. My favorite pair of Ray Bans has been missing for over a year, so I have a sadness in my soul that has kept me from buying more expensive eyewear. This cute pair of blue mirrored sunnies is from Nordstrom. You can find them in the TopShop or BP section of the store.
Don't forget to follow @thetrendynurseblog on Instagram to stay updated with my posts! I'm excited to share more of my favorite things with you all!

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Caffeine: Friend or Foe?

Coffee is amazing. It's honestly the one true nectar of the gods. It is a miracle in a cup and the best pick-me-up when you're feeling bogged down. Coffee has many known health benefits. It is a potent antioxidant and coffee consumption has been found to have an inverse correlation (more coffee, less disease) with diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer's, and some types of cancer [a]. Drinking coffee before exercise can also help increase endurance and help you push out those last few seconds of a high intensity workout [b].

As I've started my new job, I've noticed my coffee intake dramatically increase, and with that, I've also started to notice that it's not so perfect all the time. With every cup I drink, I notice a slight edge of anxiety. It also messes with my sleep and leaves me awake at night staring at the ceiling wondering why I thought a quadruple shot of espresso was a good idea. This got me questioning what the evidence says about the downsides of coffee (if they even exist). So, what did I find out?

One of the negative effects coffee can have on its consumer is insomnia. Caffeine has a half life of about 5 to 6 hours [c], so even if you drink it early in the afternoon, it will still be in your system by the time you need to go to sleep. Here's an example of how to calculate that: if at 4 PM you consume 165 mg of caffeine, the amount in a grande iced coffee from Starbucks, you will still have 82 mg of caffeine in your system at 10 PM. This can leave you tossing and turning and unable to sleep, and lack of sleep of course has its own stack of negative effects on health. So, next time you reach for your venti quad espresso afternoon pick-me-up, you might want to think twice about what time you plan on falling asleep at night.
Not only does coffee have the potential to shake you up all night long like an AC/DC track, but it also can exacerbate anxiety and panic disorders [d]. In addition, people with anxiety and panic disorders have been found to have an increased sensitivity to the effects of caffeine [e]. Coffee consumption may also heighten psychotic symptoms and hostility in individuals with psychosis-related disorders [d]. If you're a health care worker, consider asking your patients about coffee intake so you can appropriately monitor and intervene with caffeine-related side effects [d].

Individuals with or at risk for hypertension should also be aware of the downsides of America's favorite beverage. Coffee raises blood pressure and heart rate, and caffeine consumers have higher blood pressure on average than non-caffeinators [f]. Individuals with hypertension should ask their doctor if it's safe to consume caffeinated beverages and should consider limiting coffee consumption to less than 2 cups per day [f]. Risk factors for hypertension include - but are not limited to - the following: age over 65, race (common amongst Black people even at early ages), family history, obesity, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, high sodium intake, stress, and chronic conditions such as kidney disease [g].
With this information taken into account, coffee should certainly be used in moderation. I say this as I sip my iced coffee at 7 PM, but since it's the weekend I don't quite have a bedtime goal I need to hit for tonight. Spoken like a true coffee addict. Do you think coffee's pros outweigh the cons? Comment below to join in the conversation.

Small Business Feature: Buu Buttons

As a new grad nurse, one of the most exciting parts of starting my job was finally getting my RN badge. No more "NURSING STUDENT" in bright red letters plastered on my badge - I was now official! After receiving my standard badge reel, I was quick to switch it out with the cutest little button style reel from a fellow nurse's small business, Buu Buttons.

My adorable floral reel from Buu Buttons
The creator of Buu Buttons is a full time ER nurse who started making the buttons as a hobby. Her friends loved what she was making, and her hobby quickly became much more than just a craft. She updates her online store frequently with new designs, and you can find sneak peeks of what's next to come on her Instagram account. Buu Buttons has no minimum order number and shipping only costs $0.99. My Buu Button badge has already earned me quite a few compliments, and it works well with no tangling/sticking of the reel.
I mean, come on. How cute is this Chewie button?
Support this small business by checking out her designs and ordering some adorable badges for yourself and your friends! I know you want to!

Buu Buttons Links:

4 Tips to Enjoy Your Fitness Routine

If I had to choose one word to describe what I've learned through my fitness journey, it's balance. Without balance, physical health becomes a chore that can surely take a toll on mental health. There was a time in my life when I hated my body, and it caused me so much anxiety. During this time, exercise always felt like a chore that I forced myself into as some sort of punishment. I've come a long way and have learned to listen to my body and nourish it in the right ways. Living a healthy, balanced, life, has helped me to enjoy and appreciate my body more than I ever knew was possible.  Not to mention, physical fitness helps prevent a myriad of diseases and there is growing evidence that physical activity can help improve mental health (Strohle, 2009). Here are 4 simple and intuitive tips that have helped me strike the sweet spot that has kept me invested in my physical health in a mentally positive way.

1. Remember your reasons.
One of the keys to enjoying your fitness routine is to remember why you are doing it. Be intentional about thinking about your reasons for exercising. These reasons should be reflective of a positive attitude and should not be motivated by fear or self-hate. Otherwise, a negative connotation will always be attached to the activity, and unhealthy habits may form. If you struggle with anxiety and/or obsessive behaviors related to your body, eating, and/or workout routine, there are some really great  online resources for finding a professional to help you out. I'll be the first to admit it's not always easy for everyone to find positive reasons to exercise in a world where our bodies are under so much scrutiny. It took me a while to find mine and to let go of many of my anxieties related to having "the perfect body." Some of my reasons for engaging in physical activity are to have fun, to help myself relieve stress, and to invest in my future self's health.
2. Do what you love.
Doing exercise that you truly love and enjoy will help you keep a positive mindset about physical fitness, and will help you get moving more often (Jekuac, 2015). I never enjoyed my fitness routine until I started doing something I truly enjoyed. My boyfriend taught me how to lift weights when we first started dating, and it immediately clicked with me. I loved it because it felt like an activity that was meant to make my body stronger and to appreciate my strength. I also loved it because it was something he and I bonded over. Since I discovered this passion, I've been excited to get to the gym, put on my favorite music, and get my sweat on. It's also a great way to blow off steam! As you can see from the photos, on days that I'm not lifting weights, I enjoy doing yoga. I've found it to be another great way to appreciate my body's abilities.
3. Try something new.
Don't be afraid to try something new if what you are doing doesn't feel right anymore. Or, just try something new for fun! There are so many ways to move your body and get exercise that don't include hitting the weights or the cardio machines. If you hate the gym, treat yourself to the great outdoors and try hiking. If you hate weight lifting, try rock climbing. If you love to be creative, maybe try a dance class. There are so many fun ways to be active, and I would suggest checking out Groupon to find some unexpected activities.
4. Rest.
This is one of the big tips where balance comes into play. Your body needs rest in order to recover, and rest days feel just as rewarding as a good workout. You should never feel as if you are a slave to your workout regimen. If you do, that's a good sign that you need to take a rest, and then start over at number 1 on this list. And while you're at it, treat yourself to some Netflix and pizza. Like I said, balance is a great thing.

I hope these tips can help someone else the way they have helped me along my health and fitness journey. Remember that your mental health should never be compromised for the sake of an exercise regimen. Feel free to comment and leave your favorite tips for enjoying your fitness routine!


Jekauc, D. (2015). Enjoyment during exercise mediates the effects of an intervention on exercise adherence. Psychology, 6, 48-54.

Strohle, A. (2009). Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. J Neural Transm Vienna, 6, 777-84. doi: 10.1007/s00702-008-0092-x

How to Pass the NCLEX in 75 Questions

One thing I learned from studying for the NCLEX is that there is not one "right" way to prepare. You have to follow your own study patterns and create a plan that works for you. With that being said, I've created a list based on what worked for me and helped me pass the NCLEX on the first try in 75 questions. I hope that this can be helpful to others!

First things first, take a deep breath. Relax. It's all going to be okay. Your nursing education prepared you for this exam, and now it's your chance to show off how smart you are. Anyway, don't tell anyone I told you this, but... the NCLEX isn't really that bad. People make it sound so horrible and scary, but the test is designed for success. The algorithm is designed in a way that allows you to show you deserve to pass, which 85% of test-takers do! Speaking of the algorithm, despite the title of this post, you shouldn't worry so much about passing in 75 questions. Yes, it's a relief to feel like you just aced the exam, but a pass is a pass, no matter how you slice it. Now, just because I told you all of this doesn't mean you should ditch your study plans. It just means that you shouldn't work yourself up with anything except positivity and confidence. Keep reading to learn how to best prepare yourself to pass your NCLEX.

The first step in creating a successful study plan is choosing your test date. Register for a date that you feel is going to give you an appropriate amount of time to study. It would be better to overestimate your time needed to study so that you don't end up stressing and cramming. If you end up feeling prepared far before your testing date (look at you go!), you can always change your exam to an earlier session. On the other hand, you don't want to make your test date too far away. The lessons you learned in clinical rotations and the classroom really do help you on the exam, and you don't want to get too rusty before you sit for your NCLEX. Most people would suggest setting your date for one to two months after graduation, and I agree with that advice.

Before you start studying, make a plan for what kind of tools you will use to prepare. When I first started studying, I felt very unorganized and was trying to pull from too many resources - Kaplan review books, random websites, nursing school notes, etc... It was not getting me anywhere. What you need to do is choose a couple ride or die tools to stick with for your NCLEX prep. This toolkit will be your personal choice, but it should include a main source for content and a main source for practice questions. Try to think about what has worked for you in terms of study methods throughout nursing school. During school, I was never one to prepare for exams by reading the textbook. I knew that I needed an interactive way to study that wouldn't bore me to death. So, after some trial and error, I chose two main tools: YouTube for content and NCLEX RN Mastery App for practice questions. You can find the links to these sites at the end of this post.

After graduation, I gave myself the first month to relax with some light studying sprinkled in. The second month, I buckled down a lot more. This was my long term plan: study lightly for one month, study harder for the next, and study the hardest for the week leading up to the exam. I also had a daily study goal during each of these long-term time frames.
Month 1: During the first month of light studying, my goal was to complete 50 practice questions per day and to casually watch YouTube videos on content that I struggled with in my practice questions. Might I add that I also went on a nice vacation to Cabo and enjoyed a few cervezas? Balance, people, balance.
Month 2: Each day during Month 2, I set out to answer 100 practice questions. I also watched a couple YouTube videos each day that corresponded with the content of the practice questions. For example, on a day I was answering respiratory questions, I watched one YouTube video on COPD and one on Asthma.
The Final Week: I dedicated the final week to trying to help myself gain confidence in my areas of weakness. I continued to answer 100 questions per day and focused on areas I performed poorly in. I also watched almost every video from the Registered Nurse RN YouTube channel as a comprehensive content review.  I would not suggest staying up all night studying this week. If you've been preparing and hitting your daily goals, there is no use for skipping out on sleep. You need to keep your mind happy and healthy, and you can't do that without sleep!

The day before your exam, avoid any type of event you might perceive as stressful. Yes, that includes studying. If you really need to review a few things to calm your nerves, do it in the morning. After that, let yourself rest. I found that this day of rest was extremely helpful for my confidence and my attitude. Although I was anxious, I still felt happy and well-prepared.

Main Takeaway
If I could give you one main tip that you take away from this post, it would be to focus on learning HOW to take the test. In my opinion and experience, practice questions are more helpful than reviewing content. Yes, a content review is necessary, but the NCLEX is not a black and white content quiz. It is an exam that heavily focuses on prioritization of actions based on clinical knowledge and skill. Using a practice question database will give you the confidence you need to pass in as few questions as possible. A practice-question focused approach to studying will teach you how to answer those pesky select all that apply questions (and holy cow, did I get a LOT of them on the NCLEX). So, practice up, take a deep breath, and get ready to pass! You're going to do amazing.

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section. If you've already taken the NCLEX, share your favorite study tips below!

Useful Resources
^ I paid for the premium version, which is quite affordable and worth it in my opinion.


Hi, everyone! Welcome to my blog. My name is Jessica, and I'm a newly graduated registered nurse. I started my blog as a creative outlet through which I can share my passion for life in and out of scrubs. But you don't have to be a nurse to follow my journey! In addition to nursing/healthcare related posts, I'll be sharing all things lifestyle, fitness, health, beauty, and fashion.

My life in scrubs: In 2015, I graduated from the University of Miami where I completed a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. While completing my degree in Miami, I also worked for a research lab, the UMiami Program for Anxiety, Stress, and OC Spectrum Disorders. Shortly after my graduation, I began an accelerated graduate program in Chicago where I obtained my Masters of Science in Nursing. I am a certified Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), and I currently work as a bedside RN in a cardiac med/psych unit.

My life out of scrubs: I am a fitness and health enthusiast, and I'm dedicated to leading a healthy, balanced, lifestyle. I enjoy keeping up with beauty and fashion trends, not to mention the best part of that: shopping. I also have a passion for travel and the great outdoors. I love to experience new places, especially with my boyfriend, family, and friends. When I have time, I enjoy reading, crafting, and singing along to my guitar or piano.

These are the many facets of my life I am excited to share with you! Thanks for following, and I hope you enjoy my content!