Contact Admission: 866-319-8966


Nursing Career Opportunities in Clinical Leadership

Nursing Career Opportunities in Clinical Leadership

The online Master of Science in Nursing — Clinical Leadership program opens up your nursing career choices. You’ll be positioned to take advantage of the demand for nurses with the advanced clinical, communication and collaborative skills required in today’s health care environment.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), “the current demand for master's- and doctorally prepared nurses for advanced practice [and] clinical specialties . . . far outstrips the supply.” In 2008, only 13.2 percent of the nation's registered nurses held either a master's degree or doctorate as their highest level of educational achievement.1

All types of clinical settings and nursing fields seek nurses with the ability to take the lead in the creation of integrated patient care plans. Consequently, the nursing career outlook for those with these skills is good, and compensation also rises accordingly: the median annual wage for nurses in clinical leadership roles is $84,000, much higher than the median annual wage for registered nurses ($65,470).3

Specific titles that require Clinical Leadership skills can include:

  • Staff Nurse
  • Charge Nurse
  • Clinical Coordinator
  • Care Manager
  • Nursing Supervisor
  • Nurse Manager

"As a result of my degree work and promotion of the Clinical Leader role within the facility at which I work, [I was] offered a position as a Manager."
– Danielle Piper, '19, MSN in Clinical Leadership

The CNL Role and Certification

The Clinical Nurse Leader role is an advanced generalist role as developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to help clinicians gain the expertise and skills to improve patient care, quality and safety. CNL careers can vary across settings, but typically CNLs work at the point of care and responsible for integrating information from other health care team members as well as tests and assessments to developing care plans focused on evidence-based practice, safety, quality, risk mitigation and cost control.

Clinical Nurse Leaders can have a dramatic effect on the quality of care. A study at Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities showed that rates of patient satisfaction rose 12 percent above the national average when CNLs were on staff, even when patient numbers doubled over the next ten years.1 As a result, the VA put extensive resources into transforming all of its VHA Medical Centers into facilities staffed with CNLs. Read more about how CNLs have been shown to improve patient care.

The Clinical Leadership track prepares you to take the Clinical Nurse Leader certification exam. Once the program has been completed, graduates are eligible to take the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) examination for national certification. Pass rates for SXU alumni who have taken the exam after graduation exceed the national average.

Even if you do not plan to pursue CNL certification, your clinical leadership skills are still valuable tools to improve patient outcomes as well as to foster new professional opportunities in a variety of roles and settings.

“Following my recent completion of the graduate nursing program, I have been asked to step into an acting role as a Senior Nursing Director at the academic center.”
– Marina Ocasio, ’19, MSN in Clinical Leadership

Be a Recognized Clinical Leader

Open up your nursing career options with a Master of Science in Nursing in Clinical Leadership. Call us at 866-319-8966 or request more information today.

1Nursing Fact Sheet, Association of Colleges of Nursing, available at

2Nurse Journal, “What Is the Salary Outlook for Clinical Nurse Leader?”