How Clinical Nurse Leaders Drive Real Results: An Infographic


Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNL) are certified clinicians who hold a master’s degree and devote themselves to improving the quality of care and safety of their patients.  There are so many reasons to consider a career as a Clinical Nurse Leader and if you are committed to making patient care your first priority then this career might be for you.

Source: Queens University of Charlotte

The Need for Clinical Nurse Leaders

The need for Clinical Nurse Leadership is rising. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing introduced the role of CNL in 2003 to address critical issues that faced the healthcare industry. It was the first new nursing role to be added in 40 years!  One issue that contributes to the need for CNLs is the high rate of preventable deaths which is calculated at 98,000 per year. Also, there is an estimated $17-29 billion annual loss from medical errors each year.  It is also calculated that by 2020 there will be a 20% nursing shortage—so these issues will only grow.

What is a Clinical Nurse Leader?

A CNL bridges the gap between patient care and clinical leadership across all healthcare settings. CNLs regularly communicate with not only patients, but with physicians, pharmacists, social workers, clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, and other members of the healthcare team. They ensure that the patient’s safety comes first in all settings.

CNLs also deliver measurable cost savings for both patients and their healthcare providers.  They constantly evaluate strategies to drive higher quality, and more affordable care. Their main focus is on outcome-based practice and process improvement.

How CNLs Improve their Workplaces

  1. By suggesting efficiency-boosting, cost saving ideas.
  2. Promoting safety and quality care through institution-wide committees.
  3. Creating educations materials for patients and staff.
  4. Improving patients and staff outcomes by using research-based evidence, microsystems analysis and aggregate data sets.

Measureable Results

A VA Clinics Improvements included the addition of CNLs and increased nursing hours per patient by 11%. Their aim was to reduce waste and overall expenses.  The results were as follows:

  • 3x fewer cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) which increases patient cost by $40,000
  • Decreased incidents of pressure ulcers from 12.5% to 4.2%
  • 50% reduction in patient falls.

They saved an estimated $461,775 in annual costs.  The VA will implements CNLs at all points of care by 2016.

Clinical Microsystem Outcomes

CNLs also contribute to fewer surgical complications and more efficient scheduling.  It is calculated that with CNLs there are 50% fewer gastrointestinal lab work cancellations. There are 14% fewer ambulatory surgery cancellations and 50% fewer lost hours at patient transport departments.

The demand for CNLs is justified: they are putting patients first and creating the path to a stronger healthcare system.  With their help healthcare can be safer, and more efficient for not only patients but for healthcare providers as well.


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