Private Practice

Practice Area: Private Practice2017-10-20T08:29:24-07:00


CNL Careers in private practice facilities generally involve a fewer number of patients than the hospital setting, which results in more one-on-one interactions between a CNL and a patient. This area of practice provides a great opportunity for a Clinical Nurse Leader to utilize their medical expertise and communication skills to provide higher quality of care and develop better working relationship with each individual patient.


  • The roles and responsibilities of a CNL in a private practice are not very different from those in the hospital setting. Responsibilities of a CNL in this setting include:

  • Assess, develop, implement, and evaluate plans to improve the quality of patient care.

  • Collaborate with other members of medical staff and use evidence-based practice to develop a better culture of wellness around clients and their families.


The average salary for CNL careres in a private practice is similar to the one working in general surgical unit and stands at about $84,500 annually. The range can be from $57,000 to $112,000 depending on the facility and its location. (Note: Salary data collected as of 2016.)


Although specific requirements may vary depending on the facility, a Clinical Nurse Leader is an advanced generalist educated at a master’s degree level; they are required to have an MSN from a program accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). They may also require a nursing license specific to the state in which they plan to operate and pass a CNL certification exam.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: CNL Careers in private practice facilities involve fewer numbers of patients than the hospital setting resulting in more one-on-one interactions.

In contrast to hospital settings, those CNL careers in private practices are closer to traditional business office environments. They offer the chance to work with a smaller patient base, the shifts are shorter (resembling 9-to-5 jobs), and overall, they’re less stressful work atmospheres.


Any physician, from pediatrician to general practitioner to surgeon, can open a private practice. So, a specialized knowledge base may be necessary, depending on the focus of the practice.

Every CNL, no matter what environment, will be required to interpret data, design and implement evidence-based procedures, and educate colleagues and patients in an effective manner.


What private practice lacks in flexibility, it makes up for in stability. You may not have three-day workweeks (or overtime pay), but you also won’t be expected to work on holidays or weekends. This type of schedule is best suited for people who need consistent hours around which they can reliably plan the rest of their lives.

Private practice offices generally have a smaller staff than hospitals. On the one hand, this can mean fewer coworkers to learn from and interact with. On the other hand, a smaller staff often provides opportunity for expanding a role beyond usual responsibilities.

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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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