Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Online

AG CNS nursing student with geriatric patient patient

Flexible curriculum plans, 100% online

Are you interested in a transformational experience of becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in the role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)? Through the College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing, you will develop clinical expertise, lead nursing care and make real change happen at the bedside and in the boardroom. You will learn to speak concisely about the importance of your role and enjoy a full understanding about the outcomes of CNS practice. As an APRN, you know that outcomes are critical to the viability of healthcare systems today and that the CNS role is essential.

At Detroit Mercy, students become an AG-CNS who prescribes patient-centered care, transforms nurses and leads projects with an integrated and holistic viewpoint.

About the Clinical Nurse Specialist Role and Our Program

 


Application deadlines

Fall term – August 15th
Winter term – December 1st
Summer term – May 1st
*Now accepting qualified applicants upon passing NCLEX.

 

FAQ

View our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to common questions about the AG-CNS program.

What Does a CNS Do?

Patient/Family Caregiver Care (Complex Situations)

  • Prescribes Advanced, Compassionate, Holistic Care to Patients/Family Caregivers
  • Makes Nursing and Medical Diagnoses to Prescribe Pharmaceutical and Non-Pharmaceutical Care Options
  • Performs Advanced Procedures and Bills for Services in a Specialty or Setting
  • Changes the Trajectory of Care for Populations of Patients to Exceptional Outcomes

Nurse/Nursing Practice

  • Provides 1:1 Nurse/CNS Consult for Complex Patient Care
  • Assesses the Nursing Environment
  • Creates Healthy Work Environments
  • Improves Nurse Retention and Engagement
  • Brings Best Evidence to the Bedside (Protocols)

Systems Level Leadership

  • Represents Nursing in the C-Suite
  • Assesses the Larger System for Problems or Potential Failure Modes (falls, PIs, CAUTIs)
  • Leads and Sustains Change – Project Leaders
  • Advocates for Equitable Care for All

For the CNS, Every Patient Contact = Assessing the Bigger Picture

98%
Pass Rate

The 2016-23 Detroit Mercy graduating classes achieved a 98% first-time pass rate on the national certification exams for the Adult-Gerontology CNS through ANCC (non-acute care CNS) and AACN (critical care CNS) for all master's and post-graduate certificate CNS graduates.

100%
Employed

Our graduates achieve great careers, with 100% of Detroit Mercy AGCNS graduates employed in CNS roles, care coordination, academia and across settings to include telemedicine.

#37
Best Online Master’s in Nursing Program

US News #37 best online

U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” edition ranks Detroit Mercy’s program among the nation’s best online master’s in nursing programs

Dedicated AG-CNS faculty

Our dynamic group of CNS faculty want to spend the time it takes to make your experience at Detroit Mercy the best it can be. We know graduate studies are an important aspect of your lives and that life continues to move forward in unexpected ways. As a result, our faculty maintain an atmosphere of rigor with flexibility and will work diligently with any student who needs extra support, allowing students to choose their pace. Our goal is to ensure your success and do whatever is necessary to help you achieve it.

Our students say great things about their Detroit Mercy experience. As an institution founded on the Jesuit and Mercy traditions, we look forward to helping you transform your life and career!

Meet with Dr. Saunders

Contact us directly! Call Professor and Program Coordinator Dr. Mitzi Saunders or send her an email with your questions and to make an appointment.

saunders headshot

Mitzi M. Saunders, PhD, APRN, ACNS-BCProfessor and Program CoordinatorPhone: 734-355-2792Email: saundemm@udmercy.edu

You can also join Dr. Saunders at an Information Session.

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AGCNS) Information Sessions

For the Summer and Fall 2024 entry terms, please join us on the following dates from 1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (Eastern Time Zone). If you plan to attend, please notify Julie Bazydlo by email. She will provide you with the Zoom link. Please review our AG-CNS website and this video prior to the meeting.

What are our students saying?

Who is a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)?

headshot of rachel

"The CNS is a champion for quality patient care. We are APRNs with graduate preparation, sharing the same core courses as NPs (A&P, patho and pharm). However, our focus is not only providing diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of patients, but also using our nursing expertise to support the work of the nurses at the bedside and advancing our practice by being the voice of nursing in the boardroom. We also function on the systems level by initiating research, quality improvement, cost saving strategies and implementation of evidence-based practice."
—  Rachel Orfei '18, MSN, APRN, CNS-C

lisa headshot

"A CNS is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in a patient population or clinical area to be a champion of evidence based practice, high-quality care and patient outcomes. We work across three spheres (the system, nurse and patient) to ensure the system is set up so it is easy for the nurses to do the right thing every time and thus provide high quality care to patients to give them the best outcomes. We are master collaborators and agents of change."
Lisa McCann-Spry ’18, MSN, APRN, CNS-C

CNS judy headshot

"The Clinical Nurse Specialist is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse with prescriptive authority who practices holistic, comprehensive, advanced nursing care for complex patients, improves nurse sensitive indicators by implementing evidence-based practices in a cost-saving manner, and leads change at the system level."

— Judy Waltz '21

A Note to Online Students

It is the responsibility of all applicants applying for admission in an online graduate nursing program to confirm if the program meets specific licensure requirements in the applicant’s state of residence. Applicants may contact the applicable licensing board.

For Washington State students: The University of Detroit Mercy is approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission to conduct practice experiences in the state of Washington for the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Post-Graduate Certificate program.

Department of Education Reciprocity Statement
Successful completion of the McAuley School of Nursing (MSON) graduate APRN nursing program qualifies the graduate to take the appropriate national certification examination (AG-CNS: ANCC or AANC) for their specialty. Graduates who plan to practice in Michigan may find more information on licensure at Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, phone 517-241-0199, or email BPLHelp@michigan.gov

University of Detroit Mercy has not made a determination of whether the nursing curriculum meets the educational requirements in any state other than Michigan. Students are urged to contact the specific board of nursing in the state in which they intend to practice in order to ensure they are in full compliance with the education, practice and certification requirements. It is the responsibility of all applicants applying for admission in an online graduate nursing program to confirm if the program meets specific licensure requirements in the applicant’s state of residence. Applicants may contact the applicable licensing board.

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    Sample Program Plan - Part-time

    The Part-Time plan is the recommended plan but students can elect to take one course each semester too. Students may begin the program in any semester as noted on the plans (Fall, Winter, or Summer). All courses are 100% online and run asynchronously with active engagement with faculty. Semesters are 15 weeks in length. Please consult with Dr. Mitzi Saunders to develop a plan that works for you.

    Year 1

    Fall Term (6 credits)

    • HLH 5900 Advanced Pathophysiology - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5160 Advanced Health Assessment - 3 cr.

    Winter Term (6 credits)

    • NUR 5800 Pharmacology for the APRN - 3 cr.
    • *NUR 7400  Information Management and Decision Support - 3 cr.

    Summer Term (6 Credits)

    • NUR 5030 - Analytic Methods for Clinical Practice - 3 cr.
    • *HLH 7100 – Health Care Policy, Economics and the Law in Clinical Practice - 3 cr.

    Year 2

    Fall Term (6 credits)

    • *NUR 7500  Evidence Based Nursing Practice: Theory, Design, Methods - 3 cr.
    • *NUR 7000 Advanced Theory & Knowledge Development for Clinical Nursing Practice - 3 cr.

    Winter Term (5 credits)

    • NUR 5748 Adult-Gerontology CNS Role and Theory I - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5749 Adult-Gerontology Practicum I (200 hours) - 2 cr.

    Summer Term (3 credits)

    • *NUR 7300 Transformational Leadership & Innovation in Advanced Clinical Practice - 3 cr.

    Year 3

    Fall Term (5 credits)

    • NUR 5752 Adult-Gerontology CNS Role and Theory II  - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5753 Adult-Gerontology CNS Practicum II (200 hours) - 2cr.

    Winter Term (5 credits)

    • NUR 5755 Adult-Gerontology CNS Role & Theory III - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5756 Adult-Gerontology CNS Practicum III (200 hours) - 2cr.

    MSN awarded – total MSN credits = 42    |    *=DNP level courses


    Summer Term (6 credits) - BEGIN DNP CORE

    • NUR 7700 – DNP transition course - 3 cr.
    • NUR 7200 Epidemiology and Population Health - 3 cr.

    Year 4

    Fall Term (6 credits)

    • NUR 7800 – Project Proposal Development - 3 cr.
    • NUR 7450 – Analytic Methods for Evidence-Based Practice - 3 cr.

    Winter Term (6 credits)

    • NUR 7900 DNP Clinical Practicum/Project - 3 cr.
    • NUR 7350 Business Management to Ensure Quality in Health Care - 3 cr.

    Summer Term (6 credits)

    • ETH 7010 Ethical Issues in Adv. Nursing Practice - 3 cr.
    • NUR 7920: DNP Doctoral Project - 3 cr.

    Total DNP Program = 66 Credits    |     Students may begin Fall, Winter, or Summer of Year 1


        

    Reviewed 2024_Saunders 3-15-24

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    Sample Program Plan - Full Time

    SAMPLE: Post BSN to DNP AGCNS (Full Time Plan) with Master’s Exit Option

    Year 1

    Fall Term (9 credits)

    • HLH 5900 Advanced Pathophysiology - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5160 Advanced Health Assessment - 3 cr.
    • *NUR 7000 Advanced Theory & Knowledge Development for Clinical Nursing Practice - 3 cr.

    Winter Term (8 credits)

    • NUR 5800 Pharmacology for the APRN - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5748 Adult-Gerontology CNS Role and Theory I - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5749 Adult-Gerontology Practicum I (200 hours) - 2 cr.

    Summer Term (9 Credits)

    • NUR 5030 Analytic Methods for Clinical Practice - 3 cr.
    • *HLH 7100 Health Care Policy, Economics and the Law in Clinical Practice - 3 cr.
    • *NUR 7300 Transformational Leadership & Innovation in Advanced Clinical Practice - 3 cr.

    Year 2

    Fall Term (8 credits)

    • NUR 5752 Adult-Gerontology CNS Role and Theory II - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5753 Adult-Gerontology CNS Practicum II (200 hours) - 2 cr.
    • *NUR 7500 Evidence Based Nursing Practice: Theory, Design, Methods - 3 cr.

    Winter Term (8 credits)

    • NUR 5755 Adult-Gerontology CNS Role & Theory III - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5756 Adult-Gerontology CNS Practicum III (200 hours) - 2 cr.
    • *NUR 7400 Information Management and Decision Support - 3 cr.

    MSN awarded – total MSN credits = 42 | *=DNP level courses


    Summer Term (6 credits) - BEGIN DNP CORE

    • NUR 7700 DNP transition course - 3 cr.
    • NUR 7200 Epidemiology and Population Health - 3 cr.

    Year 3

    Fall Term (6 credits)

    • NUR 7800 Project Proposal Development - 3 cr.
    • NUR 7450 Analytic Methods for Evidence-Based Practice - 3 cr.

    Winter Term (6 credits)

    • NUR 7900 DNP Clinical Practicum/Project - 3 cr.
    • NUR 7350 Business Management to Ensure Quality in Health Care - 3 cr.

    Summer Term (6 credits)

    • ETH 7010 Ethical Issues in Adv. Nursing Practice
    • NUR 7920: DNP Doctoral Project

    Total DNP Program = 66 Credits | Students may begin Fall, Winter, or Summer of Year 1


     

    Reviewed 2024_Saunders 3-15-24

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    Required Courses

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    Post-Master's Certificate in AG-CNS

    Detroit Mercy offers a Post-Graduate Certificate in Adult-Gerontology CNS (AG-CNS), which prepares graduates for advanced practice nursing in the role of the AG-CNS.

    Becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in the role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is a transformational experience. Students develop clinical expertise, lead nursing care and make real change happen at the bedside and in the boardroom. They can speak concisely about the importance of their role. They know the outcomes of CNS practice. They know those outcomes are critical to the viability of healthcare systems today and they know the CNS role is essential.

    Our students experience the full breadth of the CNS role as a prescriber, coach for patients and staff, team builder and change agent, while improving quality of care and the bottom line for healthcare systems. Our students take the role across healthcare settings from acute to non-acute care.

    Our graduates know who they are when they graduate and are practice-ready. Our 2016-2021 graduates have achieved a 100 percent pass rate for the national certification exams for the Adult-Gerontology CNS through ANCC (non-acute care CNS), AACN (critical care CNS) and ONC-C (oncology). The Detroit Mercy experience is transformational.

    We have a dynamic group of CNS faculty willing to spend the time it takes to make your experience at Detroit Mercy the best it can be. We know graduate studies are an important aspect of your lives and that life continues to move forward in unexpected ways. As a result, our faculty maintain an atmosphere of rigor with flexibility and will work diligently with any student who needs extra support. Students choose their pace. Our students say great things about their Detroit Mercy experience. That is the Detroit Mercy way.

    We look forward to helping you transform your life and career!

    Online Program

    The program is taught on-line in a flexible and student-centered format with course and faculty availability seven days a week. Students need not be a resident of Michigan to be in the program. Clinical sites and qualified preceptors are identified near the student's home to complete the required clinical component in the role of the CNS.

    A Note to Online Students

    It is the responsibility of all applicants applying for admission in an online graduate nursing program to confirm if the program meets specific licensure requirements in the applicant’s state of residence. Applicants may contact the applicable licensing board.

    Certification

    Upon completion of the Post-Master’s certificate, the nurse will be eligible to sit for the examination for the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

    Post-Graduate APRN Certificate Program Plan

    Year 1

    Fall Term (6 credits)

    • HLH 5900 Advanced Patho (P course) - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5160 Advanced Health Assessment (P course) - 3 cr.

    Winter Term (5 or 8 credits)

    • NUR 5800 Pharmacology for APN (must be taken with or before 5748/5749) - 3 cr.
    • NUR 5748/5749 AG-CNS I Theory/Clinical (200 Clinical Hours) - 3/2 cr.

    Year 2

    Fall Term (5 credits)

    • NUR 5752/5753 AG-CNS II Theory/Clinical (200 clinical hours) - 3/2 cr.

    Winter Term (5 credits)

    • NUR 5755/5756 AG-CNS III Theory/Clinical (200 Clinical hours) - 3/2 cr.

    Total Post Master’s Credits = 24

    NOTE: This program requires a gap analysis of prior 3P courses and relevant CNS courses/clinical hours. Applicants with transfer courses must send in their official transcripts and course descriptions for each to be considered for transfer. Eight (8) credits may be transferred in. Students must acquire the 3 P courses before the CNS course sequence or take Adv pharmacology with the first AG-CNS role/theory course I. Students begin the clinical sequence as noted above. Students earn certificates in April.

    Course requirements

    For course requirements for the Post-Graduate Certificate in Adult-Gerontology CNS (AG-CNS) program, refer to the academic catalog.

Learn more about the CNS role, resources, and job opportunities at NACNS.org.