Frequently Asked Questions: Clinical Nurse Specialists

  • What are the types of nursing professions in New York State?

    Answer: The 4 types of New York State nursing professions are:

    • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
    • Registered Professional Nurses (RNs)
    • Nurse Practitioners (NPs). NPs are certified to practice in one or more of the following specialty areas: Adult Health; Family Health; Gerontology; Neonatology; Obstetrics; Oncology; Pediatrics, Perinatology; Psychiatry; School Health; Women’s Health; Holistic; and Palliative Care.
    • Beginning on September 27, 2014, Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs). Clinical nurse specialists will be certified to practice in one or more of the following specialty areas: Adult Health; Pediatrics; Psychiatric/Mental Health; and, Oncology.

    *In New York State, midwifery is not considered a nursing profession. Midwifery is a separately licensed profession.

  • What is a clinical nurse specialist?

    Answer: In New York State, a clinical nurse specialist is a registered professional nurse who has completed advanced education (usually a master’s or doctorate degree) in a nursing clinical practice specialty and is certified by the New York State Education Department (SED) as a "Clinical Nurse Specialist" or "CNS".

    Clinical nurse specialists provide expert, highly skilled registered professional nursing services to benefit patients in a variety of health care settings. They plan care and provide care to patients with complex health needs. They evaluate the quality and effectiveness of care rendered to patients and may be involved in clinical research, management and health systems improvement. They also serve as mentors and provide clinical consultation to nursing staff and other health care professionals.

    Clinical nurse specialists do not determine medical diagnoses and do not prescribe or order medical treatments or diagnostic tests. For example, a clinical nurse specialist does not prescribe medications or order CT scans.

  • In which specialty areas will SED issue clinical nurse specialist certifications?

    Answer: SED will issue clinical nurse specialist certifications in the following specialty areas: Adult Health; Pediatrics; Psychiatric/Mental Health; and, Oncology.

    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (Adult Health): typically coordinates and provides supportive and preventative nursing services for adult patients and their families (from young adult through geriatric populations) in a variety of health care settings.
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (Pediatrics): typically coordinates and provides supportive and preventative nursing services for patients (from birth through about age 21) and their families in a variety of health care settings.
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (Psychiatric/Mental Health): typically coordinates and provides supportive and preventative mental health nursing services for patients of all ages and their families in a variety of health care settings.
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (Oncology): typically coordinates and provides supportive and preventative oncologic nursing services for patients of all ages and their families in a variety of health care settings.

  • Can I be certified as a clinical nurse specialist in more than one specialty practice area?

    Answer: Yes, you can be certified as a clinical nurse specialist in more than one specialty practice area. However, you must file a separate application and pay an additional fee to SED for each specialty practice area in which you seek certification. In addition, you must meet all applicable criteria for each specialty practice area in which you seek clinical nurse specialist certification.

  • If I am not certified by SED, can I still refer to myself as a "Clinical Nurse Specialist" or "CNS" when I practice?

    Answer: Starting on September 27, 2014, only an individual who is certified as a clinical nurse specialist by SED may use the professional title of "Clinical Nurse Specialist" or the "CNS" designation.

  • What are the requirements for becoming a clinical nurse specialist in New York State?

    Answer: After September 26, 2014, SED will issue clinical nurse specialist certifications. To be certified and registered as a clinical nurse specialist in New York State, you must:

    • be currently registered and licensed as Registered Professional Nurse (RN) in New York State;
    • submit an application for clinical nurse specialist certification to SED; and
    • be a graduate from a clinical nurse specialist education program registered by SED or meet alternative education or experience criteria acceptable to SED (which are described in more detail below).

  • What are the professional education and experience requirements for clinical nurse specialist certification in New York State?

    Answer: To satisfy the professional education and experience requirements for clinical nurse specialist certification, you must meet the criteria in one of the items (1, 2, 3 or 4) below.

    1. You must graduate from a clinical nurse specialist education program registered by SED.

      -or-

    2. You must graduate from a clinical nurse specialist education program that is determined by SED to be the equivalent to a clinical nurse specialist education program registered by SED - and - be currently certified as a clinical nurse specialist by one of the following national certifying organizations:

      • American Nurses Credentialing Center
        (For New York State clinical nurse specialist certification in Pediatrics, Psychiatric/Mental Health and Adult Health)

      • American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Certification Corporation
        (For New York State clinical nurse specialist certification in Pediatrics and Psychiatric/Mental Health)

      • Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
        (For New York State clinical nurse specialist certification in Oncology).

      -or-

    3. You must hold a license or certification as a clinical nurse specialist issued by another state or country and have met the substantial equivalent of the New York requirements for clinical nurse specialist certification, as determined by SED.

      -or-

    4. You must send a complete application and fee for clinical nurse specialist certification to SED prior to September 15, 2015 and satisfactorily meet criteria described in either item (a) or (b) below prior to September 15, 2017. Please note that all required documentation and forms pertaining to the clinical nurse specialist certification must be received by SED no later than September 14, 2017.

      1. You must complete a master’s degree in clinical nursing practice, which is determined by SED to be substantially equivalent to the preparation provided by a registered clinical nurse specialist education program and have completed after January 1, 2011, at least three thousand hours of clinical practice in a clinical nurse specialty area in a general hospital in New York State.

        -or-

      2. You must be currently certified as a clinical nurse specialist by a national certification organization listed below in the following specialty areas:

        • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
          (Acceptable ANCC Certifications include: Clinical Nurse Specialist Adult Health, Clinical Nurse Specialist Adult-Gerontology, Clinical Nurse Specialist Pediatrics, Clinical Nurse Specialist Adult Psychiatric & Mental Health and Clinical Nurse Specialist Child Psychiatric & Mental Health)

        • American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation (AACN)
          (Acceptable AACN Certifications include: Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist -Adult, Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist- Pediatric, Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist- Neonatal, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist.)

        • Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC)
          (Acceptable ONCC Certification is Advanced Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist Certification.)
  • Do I have to pass a test in order to be certified as a clinical nurse specialist in New York State?

    Answer: Not necessarily. If you are already licensed and registered as an RN in New York State, New York Law does not specifically require that you pass an additional license exam in order to be certified as a clinical nurse specialist. If you graduate from a clinical nurse specialist education program registered by SED, you do not have to pass an examination in order to be certified as a clinical nurse specialist. However, if you are trying to meet New York State criteria for becoming a clinical nurse specialist by being certified by a national certification organization, you may have to pass an examination in order to obtain clinical nurse specialist certification from the national certification organization.

  • As a clinical nurse specialist, do I have to maintain my license and registration as a registered professional nurse (RN)?

    Answer: Yes. In order to practice nursing as a clinical nurse specialist, you must be licensed and currently registered as an RN and certified and currently registered as a clinical nurse specialist by SED. Every three years you must renew your clinical nurse specialist registration and your RN registration with SED in order to continue practicing as a clinical nurse specialist.

  • What fees are charged by SED for RN licenses and clinical nurse specialist certifications?

    Answer: SED charges the following fees:

    • If you are applying to be licensed as an RN only - you must pay a $143 fee to SED.
    • If you are renewing your RN registration only, you must pay $73 to SED.
    • If you are applying for a clinical nurse specialist certification only, you must pay a $80 fee to SED.
    • If you are applying for an RN license as well as a clinical nurse specialist certification, you must pay a $143 fee for the RN license and $80 fee for the clinical nurse specialist certification.
    • If you are renewing your clinical nurse specialist and RN registration, you must pay to SED $30 for each clinical nurse specialist certification that you hold and an additional $73 fee (for your RN registration).

  • I am a nurse practitioner. Do I automatically qualify for certification as a clinical nurse specialist?

    Answer: No. In New York State, the criteria for certification as a nurse practitioner are different from the criteria for certification as a clinical nurse specialist.

Last Updated: August 28, 2014