What are the differences between a clinical nurse specialist and a nurse practitioner?
Within the medical world, there is such a broad and diverse range of fields, specializations, and titles that it can easily become confusing to understand and keep track of who does what in a hospital or a clinic, and what each person’s role is in the overall practice of medicine.
With this in mind, it is helpful to explore what the specific distinctions are between a clinical nurse specialist and a nurse practitioner. Following are the differences between these two occupations as it relates to some of the basic aspects of becoming certified and actually practicing within each position.
1. Clinical nurse specialist Vs. Nurse practitioner salary
In the United States, the average median salary for a clinical nurse specialist is $87,867. For a nurse practitioner, the average median salary is $85,200. Obviously, there are some who fall above or below the averages in each category, and there is always room to earn more than the average salary.
2. Clinical nurse specialist education requirements Vs. Nurse practitioner education requirements
Clinical nurse specialists receive graduate level educations from a program that prepares and certifies clinical nurse specialists. They generally become clinical experts in some particular and specialized aspect of the nursing field. The educations received by nurse practitioners are in many ways similar to clinical nurse specialists, as a nurse practitioner must also complete graduate level education, but typically with a much wider spectrum of expertise rather than the more specific clinical nurse specialist.
3. Clinical nurse specialist role Vs. Nurse practitioner role
Given the differences in education between the two, the clinical nurse practitioner is generally much more focused on a very specific area within the broader field of nursing practice. Clinical nurse specialists focus on the use of evidence-based nursing interventions, which are medical practices focused on utilizing new techniques and treatments with heavy research already completed to prove their effectiveness. On the other hand, a nurse practitioner participates in a wider range of activities, and based on additional training and certifications, can work in the fields of family medicine, women’s health, pediatrics, adult care, or other fields of medical practice.
4. Areas of Focus. Clinical nurse specialist job description Vs. Nurse practitioner job description
Clinical nurse specialists usually work with other nurses to implement newly researched tools, treatments, and techniques, and usually focus on one of the following specialties: working directly with the patient, working with and helping to improve a healthcare provider’s nursing personnel, and working with the overall healthcare system. A nurse practitioner typically finds him or herself more involved with actual treatments, diagnosing and treating chronic diseases or illnesses, constructing and prescribing physical therapy regimens, performing immunizations, and performing or aiding in minor surgeries.
While there are certainly differences between the training and the actual practices of clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, both are heavily invested in improving the overall care provided to patients and patients’ loved ones.
Whether it is through research, implementing new techniques, seeking ways to improve the overall delivery of medicine, or taking part in administering actual treatments, both clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners have become critical components of contemporary healthcare delivery.