Web site spotlight: Clinical nurse leaders improve patient care and quality

Nurse Leader Insider, November 30, 2009

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If your organization doesn’t employ clinical nurse leaders (CNL), perhaps it’s time it did. Units with CNLs have been shown to have shorter lengths of stay and readmission rates; improvements in quality and patient safety, such as decreased falls and infection rates; and lower RN turnover. In fact, these master’s degree-prepared nurses have had such a positive effect on patient care and the healthcare environment that the Veterans Health Administration (VA) has committed to having a minimum of three CNLs at every one of its facilities by 2016.

“These individuals take the evidence that’s out there in the literature and help to improve practice, as well as to evaluate patient outcomes,” says James L. Harris, DSN, APRN-BC, MBA, CNL, FAAN, deputy CNO in the office of nursing services at the VA, Washington, DC. “CNLs are individuals who can coordinate care and break down barriers. They can eliminate fragmentation in healthcare.”

The CNL role has only been around for a few years, but it is growing at an impressive rate and many ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP)–designated organizations—and those on the journey—are finding the role useful. The position allows nurses to advance professionally while staying in the clinical environment. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, CNLs are responsible for patient outcomes by applying evidence-based practices. They design, implement, and evaluate patient care by coordinating, delegating, and supervising the care provided by the healthcare team.

Editor’s note: To read the rest of this article, visit “Clinical nurse leaders improve patient care and quality” found in the Reading Room at

Do you need continuing education (CE) credits? Check out this month’s CE article to learn about forming patient advisory boards or visit our archives and view a compilation of CE articles (marked with an asterisk).

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