Urgent Care

Practice Area: Urgent Care2017-10-20T10:16:43-07:00

Certified Nurse Leader Practice Area Urgent Care Summary:

A Clinical Certified Nurse Leader in the urgent care setting is expected to provide a wide range of basic health care services and also ensure that the system in place continues to fulfill demands in a time-sensitive manner. An urgent care setting requires constant quality development and safety monitoring to improve patient health outcomes.

Roles & Responsibilities:

A Clinical Nurse Leader is expected to dedicate a majority of time to clinical care, while also exhibiting leadership qualities in ensuring patient safety and effective communication among staff. Some of the typical roles and responsibilities of a CNL in the urgent care setting include:

  • Perform clinical activities at an expert level while serving as a resource and a mentor within the organization.

  • Use evidence-based practices to reduce risks to patient safety, improve the quality of their experience and encourage closer team collaboration among staff.

  • Facilitate the culture of professional behavior, timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness, while educating other nurses on better ways to provide higher-quality patient care.

Average Salary:

The salary of a CNL in the urgent care setting ranges from $79,000 to $115,000, depending on the professional background and location. A CNL in this practice area earns about $97,000 annually on average. (Note: Salary data collected as of 2016.)


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.

Work Environment:

Urgent care facilities or are often compared favorably to the emergency

room. The settings are similar in that appointments are not made ahead of time. Instead, walk-in patients seeking immediate medical attention are seen and treated on a first-come, first-served basis (though of course serious conditions may take priority).

Certified Nurse Leader in Urgent Care

The main difference is that unlike emergency rooms, most urgent care facilities are not open 24 hours a day. As a result, urgent care clinicians often work fewer hours in a less stressful atmosphere.

Relevant Skill Sets:

Because it’s impossible to predict which patients will present themselves on any given day, Certified Nurse Leaders working in urgent care need to retain a wide body of generalized knowledge to implement medical interventions for a variety of conditions.

Other Considerations:

Most urgent care facilities are relatively small operations, with approximately 10 employees — or even fewer, depending on the size of the patient population. This setting can be a great place to learn. As is the case with any small office environment, employees often develop skill sets outside of their initial job description.

Due to the fact that most urgent care facilities do not operate 24/7, many urgent care clinicians work part-time. This can be an asset for anyone looking for supplemental income or a flexible work schedule.

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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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