How to Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist
1. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (4 Years)
In order to become a clinical nurse specialist, candidates must first earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing by undertaking a 4-year university program to prepare them for higher levels of education.
The preparation timeline below provides an example curriculum for undergraduate nursing students:
|Grade Level||Example Courses|
2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)
Most graduate programs revolving around forensic science require the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE) for admittance. It's a 3 hour and 45 minute, standardized, multiple choice exam that covers analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.
The GRE is a 6-section, 4-hour comprehensive exam that is broken down as follows:
|1 Analytical Writing Section||
|2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections||
|2 Verbal Reasoning Sections||
|1 Unscored Section||
You can find study materials, GRE registration, and test scores on the GRE website.
3. Earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Clinical Nursing Specialty
To become a clinical nursing specialist, aspiring nurses must earn a Master of Science in Nursing, specializing in Clinical Nursing. These programs often only take an additional 2 years to complete and are well worth the additional work as they open more opportunities than a bachelor's degree alone can.
The preparation timeline below shows an example curriculum:
4. Take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
The NCLEX has a varying number of questions, from 75 to a possible 265, that can be answered. There will be 15 experimental questions among the total, regardless of how many were answered.
The maximum allotted time for the exam is 6 hours and no mandatory breaks are required. Testers can, however, take optional breaks after 2.5 and 3.5 hours of the exam.
The NCLEX is broken down into four primary categories under "Meeting Client Need" and eight subcategories under those:
"Meeting Client Needs" categories
|Safe & Effective Care Environments||
|Health Promotion & Safety||
For more information on the NCLEX, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
5. Earn the Required Certified Nurse Specialist (CNS) Certification
Certified nursing specialists must pass a certification exam to being employment. Each specialty has its own exam that must be completed and maintained throughout the years.
For more information about certification exams, go to the American Nurses Credentialing Center.