Practice Area: Military2017-10-20T08:08:36-07:00


For those pursuing Clinical Leadership in Nursing you may focus on point of care to deliver quality, safe, and efficient service to military patients. When it comes to the military setting for a CNL, the two main focus areas are Veterans Affairs (VA) and traditional medical facilities, both domestic and abroad.

Within the VA, those with Clinical Leadership in Nursing can play a crucial role by carrying and disseminating information, addressing patient needs, and acting as a resource for other nurses to ensure the healthcare unit is working at peak efficiency. It is important for a Clinical Nurse Leader in the military to keep the big picture in mind and pay attention to both the patient and their family. By working in the military, a CNL has the opportunity to provide holistic, high-quality care to America’s heroes.


While this role encompasses all the typical responsibilities of a Clinical Nurse Leader, the military expands it in the following ways:

  • Foster and facilitate relationships between nursing staff, medical personnel and ancillary staff.

  • Assist with coordination of education programs directed at improving staff performance.

  • Promote an environment that encourages employees to perform to their full potential.

  • Initiate coordination and outcomes of new programs and patient care operations.


Salaries for CNLs that work in the military range between $60,000 and $116,000. On average, a Clinical Nurse Leader who works in this practice area earns $88,000 per year. (Note: Salary data collected as of 2016.)


The education experience required to work as a CNL in the military is a MSN with a Clinical Nurse Leader track. Sometimes four to five years of nursing experience may be required. It would also be beneficial to have some experience in the areas of mental health, medical surgery and outpatient clinic and ambulatory care.


For those pursuing Clinical Leadership in nursing you may focus on point of care to deliver quality, safe, and efficient service to military patients.

For those in Clinical Leadership in Nursing within the military medical arena, one can work in a variety of settings. Military hospitals, domestic and abroad, offer the chance to care for active members of the military and their family members. VA hospitals and clinics provide care for veterans, even if they served during times of peace.

The main difference between working in a civilian medical setting and a military facility? Culture. Both settings offer flexible schedules, with the option of working four-, six-, or 12-hour shifts, and CNLs perform the same function in either environment.

In a civilian hospital, there is one identity—nurse — and one priority: caring for the patient.

In the military, however, there two identities to contend with—officer and nurse — and two overarching priorities: contributing to the good of the mission and caring for the patient.


For those in clinical leadership in nursing practicing in a military hospital close to the field of combat, the ability to function under potentially harsh and particularly stressful conditions will be crucial. Regardless of where the facility is located, however, CNLs serving in the military will also need to find effective ways of building trust and an easy rapport with the servicemen and women they’re treating.


Lifetime veteran benefits are one of the biggest advantages of joining the military as a nurse. These benefits can include health care, life insurance, disability compensation, education and pension.

Deployment to bases around the world affords great travel opportunities and the military pays for specialized training that can help further your career.

While it isn’t necessary to go through boot camp training, each branch has a specialized officer basic military training course that is necessary for all medical personnel.

VA facilities and military hospitals are run by the government, and they are encumbered by a level of bureaucracy you wouldn’t otherwise encounter at a civilian facility or institution.

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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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