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Clinical Nurse Leaders Play Key Roles in VA Healthcare System

Nurses have a huge impact on the quality of care throughout the Veterans Affairs healthcare system.

Consider that when the VA brought in Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNLs), patient satisfaction rose 12 percent above the national average, according to McKinsey Quarterly. Clinical Nurse Leaders hold masters degrees and coordinate all specialties of healthcare professionals within the VA system.

The success was so impressive the VA has invested funds and resources into turning all of its VHA Medical Centers into Magnet and Pathway to Excellence programs staffed with CNLs. Those designations indicate the highest quality of nursing care available.

Similarly, CNLs positively impacted health care in so many areas that the American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) developed it into a specialty, according to Graduate Nursing Education.

High Pay and Benefits

Of course, the VA offers all nurses high pay and benefits that are unmatched in the private sector, including generous higher education support programs. That benefit is key for many nurses to advance to CNL roles. When those CNLs join the VA, they play vital roles in allowing the facilities to achieve “Magnet” status, the highest level of honor awarded by the ANCC and considered the “Gold Standard” of nursing excellence.

It’s no secret that nurses – even under prime working conditions – have demanding careers. That is why it can be advantageous to choose an employer that offers flexibility and benefits, such as the VA.

Equally important is a top-flight educational program that specializes in training and supporting nurses that are seeking career advancement. Although the CNL classification is in demand, not all schools of nursing have risen to the challenge of educating these future nurse leaders.

Saint Xavier University’s online MSN curriculum in Clinical Leadership provides students with the necessary leadership tools to take an active role in assessing, improving, implementing and evaluating patient care delivery. The online program allows students to take MSN courses around their own schedules. Students are eligible to take the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) examination for national certification upon graduation or just prior to graduation.

A Top-Rated Program

Saint Xavier’s School of Nursing ranks as a Top 5 for Best Online MSN Program in the United States in 2020 by U.S News & World Report and No. 2 by College Choice for the Best Online Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs. In 2018, the National League for Nursing (NLN) re-designated the School of Nursing as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education – one of only 40 schools in the U.S. to receive this distinction, and the only school in Illinois. CNL examination scores for graduates of Saint Xavier School of Nursing’s Clinical Leadership track exceed the national average.

As a leader in nursing education, Saint Xavier University offers a host of post-master’s education tracks, including the online Master of Science in Clinical Leadership.

Want proof that Saint Xavier University is innovative and in touch with future nursing demands? Consider that an Associate Degree RN can enter the MSN program through a unique Special Entry Option, completing only five BSN bridge courses before beginning the MSN curriculum.

It’s easy to see why combining a nursing degree from Saint Xavier University with a CNL position is an outstanding choice for nurses devoted to excellence in all areas of their professional and personal lives.