Government/Regulatory Agencies

Clinical Nurse Role: CNL Careers in Government/ Regulatory Agencies2017-10-20T06:57:29-07:00


A Clinical Nurse role can be one in government/regulatory agencies.

ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES: A Clinical Nurse role is designed to deliver clinical leadership and help both individuals and families on a micro-system level of care. When it comes to government and regulatory agencies, Clinical Nurse Leaders can be found in more than 70 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC).

Much like other practice areas, the job of a Clinical Nurse Leader in this area of practice is to use academic background and leadership skills to address gaps in the delivery of patient care. Some of the typical tasks that a CNL should expect in government/regulatory agencies are:

  • Track and improve cost outcomes, including length of stay, flow and readmission rate of patients.

  • Work on increasing satisfaction among both patients and staff.

  • Maintain high quality of outcomes by managing medication, patient safety and infection prevention.

  • Practice a collaborative evidence-based approach to operating in the healthcare setting.


The annual salary of a Clinical Nurse role in government/regulatory agencies ranges from $51,000 to $94,000, with a median being $91,500. The number will vary based on a number of factors, including location and experience. (Note: Salary data collected as of 2016.)


A CNL is expected to help improve health care that is growing more complex every year, and educate other nurses on how to be more effective and efficient at their job.

A Clinical Nurse Leader is an advanced generalist educated at a master’s degree level; they generally are required to have an MSN from a program accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

WORK ENVIRONMENT:Clinical Nurse Role: CNL Careers in Government/ Regulatory Agencies

When working with a government health agency, a CNL has two main paths they can follow: the clinical route (working as a practitioner with the Veterans Health Administration, which can effect change on individual and community level), or the academic route (working as a researcher with the National Institutes of Health, which can effect change on the national level).


For practitioners working with the VA, it will be helpful to immerse yourself in military culture and conduct. This extended knowledge base will provide a better understanding of your patients and the world in which they operate.

For academics looking to study the CNL role and how CNL programs can be used most effectively, a background in writing and publishing research papers will be necessary.
CNLs looking to segue into academic research can do so by pursuing a Ph.D. in nursing education.


While caring for veterans can be a fulfilling experience, working for the VA comes with its own idiosyncratic frustrations. Often hampered by the vastness of government bureaucracy, even the most basic of changes can be difficult to implement on the ground level.

Academic researchers working for the NIH have the opportunity to shape health policies at the national level, however, they may not be able to continue working with patients. This position is ideal for mid-career CNLs who are experiencing burnout, but still want to contribute to the betterment of the profession.

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Practice Areas

While a Clinical Nurse Leader can work in various settings, different roles mean different responsibilities. The most common practice areas where a CNL can be found are highlighted below. To learn more by clicking on each icon.

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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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