I am a graduate nursing student in the Family Nurse Practitioner track. I am strongly against blending the roles of the CNS and NP into the singular entity of Advanced Practice Nurse. The two roles have separate and distinct features, which do not need to be blurred by an even more generic title. Thirty-five years after the first NP began practicing the public is still unclear about exactly what an NP does. The CNS role is even less heard of, and less understood.
From my experience, CNSs work with groups of clients, nurses, and organizations to improve the processes of care for clients in specialized areas. They are also interdisciplinary healthcare leaders, instrumental with developing community programs and working to achieve quality outcomes with a specific population. NPs focus largely on health maintenance, disease prevention, counseling and patient education with a strong emphasis on primary care for specific patients. They serve in a wide variety of settings and may develop specialties including neonatology, nurse-midwifery, pediatrics, women's health, mental health or geriatrics.
Lori Vanhove, RN, BA
South Dakota State University