Currently I am finishing my senior year of the undergraduate nursing program at the Ohio State University. In my search for a graduate Adult Health Nurse Practitioner program, I have become interested in the issue of blending the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) and Nurse Practitioner (NP) roles under one Advanced Practice Nurse role. After reading Dr. Brown's "Don't Blend the Colors in the Rainbow of Advanced Practice Nursing," I agree with the idea of keeping the NP role separate from the CNS role, as well as the creation of new NP practice areas.
Today's healthcare system is changing so fast, especially with the increasing shift toward primary care. It is vital that nursing continues to adapt to the changes smoothly, as we have in the past. Merging the NP with the CNS would be cheating both specialties of their education, as well as decrease their ability to be experts in their practice. NPs have always been recognized for their primary care role with an emphasis on diagnosis and treatment, as well as health promotion. In contrast, the CNS has excelled in the areas of consultation, education, administration, and research. Clearly both roles require separate educational preparation in order to advance their current roles in the health care system.
What should be kept in mind while considering the merger, is the heart of the healthcare system, our clients. Would it be fair for a client to see a Family Nurse Practitioner who is not solely an expert in primary care, but instead has a general education? I do agree that it is possible to combine parts of the curriculum, such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, and research. In addition, there should be time dedicated to one's area of interest. Blending the education of the NP and CNS would be comparable to teaching a Certified Nurse Midwife to administer anesthesia for a general surgery, an activity that is clearly a part of the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist role.
Becoming aware of the issue of the blending of the NP and CNS roles has increased my awareness of what kind of educational curriculum I prefer and what will benefit my learning needs.
Senior Nursing Student
Ohio State University