CNL and Related Certifications

CNL and Related Certifications2017-10-26T09:27:12-07:00

A CNL is an expert in the field of nursing who is directly involved in the bedside care of patients. Empowered by their leadership role, they display clinical competence as they work in a team of nurses to continuously improve quality of care for a particular cohort of patients.  Here is everything you need to know about earning your CNL Certification.

  • Over 90% of CNLs report being valued as employees because of their role as a Clinical Nurse Leader and 97% report being able to apply their CNL knowledge and skills into their current role. (

  • The CNL certification is not just a certificate, but a credential earned and accredited by the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC), an individual extension of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

Benefits of receiving licensure include, but are not limited to:

  • Exhibiting a high level of professional achievement and commitment

  • Demonstrating the mastery of the knowledge needed for the profession

  • Reinforcing the idea that you are well-educated in the specialization of CNL

CNL Certification

RN: The RN licensure is earned following two years of academic work, which can be done at an educational institution or a medical setting, and successful completion of the NCLEX exam.

BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing): A BSN can be earn prior to or following earning your RN licensure. The BSN is a 4-year undergraduate degree program preparing nurses for clinical roles.


Bridge to MSN: RN’s holding a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can take bridge courses to enter an MSN program without earning a BSN.

MSN: This type of degree lets nurses go beyond the bedside care of patient. With an MSN, a nurse can become anything from a nurse educator to a nurse administrator, from a nurse anesthetist or a nurse midwife.  An MSN can also be more focused in a specific area, such as oncology or pediatrics.


CNL and Related Certifications

 A career as an RN is an opportunity to connect with patients and make a difference in the world. Below are some related certificates that nurses can get and some specializations within MSN and Post-Master’s degree programs that can help nurses make an even bigger impact with specialized skills and in depth knowledge in the field. There is also a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) that can be pursued after a nurse earns their MSN.
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What education level is required to be a CNL?

You will need at least a MSN with a concentration in Clinical Nurse Leadership or a similar program. This is because a CNL needs to be a resource for their nursing team, and the MSN assures that a nurse is clinically competent to do that.  There are also Post-Master’s Certificate programs that will prepare any nurse already carrying an MSN degree for the CNL exam.

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