Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (Master's, Post-Master's, DNP options)

A Detroit Mercy nursing student examines a test.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 2016-2018 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.

In addition, 100 percent of graduates are employed in CNS roles, care coordination, academia and across settings to include telemedicine. CNSs saw the highest pay spikes among APRNs in 2017 up to $102,000, which is a 7.4 percent than 2015 (Medscape APRN Compensation Report 2017).

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!

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 Program-Specific Information

For more information about this program or any graduate nursing program, please contact Ms. Suzanne Erwin, BA, BSN, RN, Graduate Nurse Recruiter at erwinsm@udmercy.edu or 313-993-1828.

Videos

Role of the CNS

CNS Programs at Detroit Mercy

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    Sample Program Plan

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    Required Courses

    MSN Integrated Core

    NUR 5030

    Analytic Methods for Clinical Practice

    3 credits

    HLH 7100

    Health Care Policy, Economics and the Law in Clinical Practice

    3 credits

    NUR 7000

    Advanced Theory & Knowledge Development for Clinical Practice

    3 credits

    NUR 7300

    Transformational Leadership & Innovation in Advanced Practice

    3 credits

    NUR 7400

    Information Management & Decision Support

    3 credits

    NUR 7500

    Evidence-Based Nursing Practice: Theory, Design & Methods

    3 credits

    Advanced Practice Core

    NUR 5160

    Advanced Health Assessment

    3 credits

    HLH 5900

    Advanced Pathophysiology

    3 credits

    NUR 5800

    Pharmacology for Advanced Practice

    3 credits

    NUR 6030

    Professional Role Development for Business Practice

    2 credits

    AGCNS Concentration Courses

    NUR 5748

    Adult-Gerontology CNS Role & Theory 1

    3 credits

    NUR 5749

    Adult-Gerontology CNS Practicum I

    2 credits

    NUR 5751

    Wellness Adult-Gerontology CNS Practice

    2 credits

    NUR 5752

    Adult-Gerontology CNS Role & Theory II

    3 credits

    NUR 5753

    Adult-Gerontology CNS Practicum II

    2 credits

    DNP Integrated Core

    NUR 7700

    DNP Transition

    3 credits

    NUR 7200

    Epidemiology & Population Health

    3 credits

    NUR 7350

    Business Management to Ensure Quality in Health Care

    3 credits

    ETH 7010

    Ethical Issues in Advanced Nursing Practice

    3 credits

    NUR 7450

    Analytics for Evidence Based Practice

    3 credits

    NUR 7800

    Project Proposal Development

    3 credits

    NUR 7900

    DNP Clinical Practicum & Project Implementation

    3 credits

    NUR 7920

    DNP Doctoral Project

    3 credits

    Total Credits: 66 credits (41 for MSN conferral and 25 for completion of DNP)

    For more information on courses descriptions, please click here for the catalog.

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    Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Post-Master's Certificate

    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 2016-2017 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.

    In addition, 100 percent of graduates are employed in CNS roles, care coordination, academia and across settings to include telemedicine. CNSs saw the highest pay spikes among APRNs in 2017 up to $102,000, which is a 7.4 percent than 2015 (Medscape APRN Compensation Report 2017).

    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.

    Adult-Gerontology CNS Post-Master's Certificate Sample Program Plan

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    Learn more about the CNS role

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    AGCNS Online Program FAQ

    What is the BSN to DNP with MSN exit?

    The McAuley School of Nursing offers the BSN to DNP with a MSN exit. This means that every student who enters the graduate program will choose a major (e.g. AGCNS) and complete all the requirements for the MSN. Some of these required courses will also meet the criteria for DNP at Detroit Mercy. You will graduate with a MSN and have the options of contining to earn the DNP, returning later and completing the DNP or not completing the DNP.

    Why did the Graduate Programs move to this Model?

    The graduate programs looked at innovative models that would provide students with maximum flexibility in completing the MSN and exiting to the workforce. The innovation is geared toward creating a curriculum that maximizes efficiencies and prevents duplication. The DNP is currently the recommended degree for entry level practice and not mandated. In our needs assessment, we found that many potential applicants were still interested in master’s education and were not able to pursue doctoral education due to family, personal, or social issues. This curriculum maximizes their opportunity and create a pathway to doctoral education.

    How does this effect the AGCNS program?

    There is little change in the programs with regard to the completion of the master’s requirements. The AGCNS program credits are 41 credits for the MSN exit. The DNP completion for a Detroit Mercy MSN FNP graduate is 25 credits. The traditional post-master’s DNP is 36 credits. Thus, this program gains efficiency, maximizes opportunity, and continues to meet workforce needs.

    Course Plan:

    The AGCNS program at Detroit Mercy has two different options for study: full time (5 semesters) or part-time (7 semesters). Students generally follow the part-time plan. The core sequence includes the advanced P courses (pathophysiology, physical assessment, and pharmacology), nursing theory, research, analytical methods, health policy, and quality improvement. The AGCNS courses and clinical hours are at the end of the program. However, flexibility in learning is key and different options of completing the program are offered. Yet, before any CNS courses, students must have taken the advanced P courses. Courses also run in the summer months. However, certain courses only run once a year so it is critical to always touch base with Dr. Mitzi Saunders before registering for courses.  
     
    Time to Completion of Degree:

    The entire MSN program of study must be completed within seven years of beginning. However, once a student begins their AGCNS clinical core sequence, the program must be completed within two years. We understand that our students are adult learners with full and (at times) complicated lives. Students may have a life circumstance that requires a break from study. The graduate nursing handbook describes policies related to leaves of absence and students are assigned an academic advisor. A student who enters the DNP program will also have seven years to complete the degree. There are policies surrounding leave of absence for those students who need to step out for unforeseen circumstances.

    Academic Progression:

    Students in the graduate nursing programs must maintain a B (3.0) average. A student who fails a graduate course in the program will be afforded the opportunity to repeat the course. A student who is unsuccessful in two graduate courses will be dismissed and may appeal the dismissal to remain. Please refer to the graduate program nursing handbook found at: http://healthprofessions.udmercy.edu/about/pph.php

    Online and Clinical

    Many of our students prefer the individualized attention that we offer at Detroit Mercy. This is rendered in an on-line community format. Despite being virtual, the presence and attention on our professors to your individual needs makes the Detroit Mercy experience unique. Professors are only a click away, telephone call, skype or Facetime.

    Courses are online via Blackboard (BB) http://knowledge.udmercy.edu and at approved clinical locations. The Firefox browser (free download) is the recommended browser for the BB system. For any issues experienced with the BB system, help is available at 313-578-0580.

    Typical Schedule When in AGCNS Clinical Core Sequence:

    Students are responsible for confirming their own clinical sites and preceptors. The clinical coordinator will assist students with their placements and students have access to our database which includes all our previous preceptors. Once a clinical site has been chosen, the student must get a “preceptor information form” completed and turned in to the clinical coordinator. Once the site is confirmed by the clinical coordinator, the student may make schedule arrangements with the preceptor. Students must complete a total of 500 clinical hours during 3 semesters (Winter, Summer, Fall). The Summer clinical is 7 weeks (100 hours) and the Fall and Winter clinical are 200 hours each. Students should factor in approximately 2 days per week (approx. 14 – 16 hours / week x 14 weeks) of clinical during those semesters.

    Clinical Placements & How to Find a Preceptor:

    A Clinical Nurse Specialist is a systems level leader with a specialty population of patients. CNSs also have superior communication skills and abilities to negotiate the health care system. Thus, students need to identify their own clinical sites that match their specialty interests and have access to older adults. We ask you to start this process early; some preceptors are booked 1-2 years in advance. The type of sites that are appropriate for clinical placements include: acute care, where the majority of CNSs practice, primary care clinics, long term care facilities, and clinics for the underserved, nursing homes, urgent care or Emergency Departments and other ambulatory sites. Students must have a non-acute care site for the Summer clinical wellness course. All clinical placements must be approved by the clinical coordinator, and contracts and compliance must be enacted between Detroit Mercy and the clinical site before students can begin clinical at that site. This process can take up to 4 months to process so students are encouraged to network and identify sites/preceptors when they begin the program.

    Can I have a clinical at my place of employment?

    You may have a clinical placement at the facility in which you work, however, it cannot be on the same unit where you regularly work. This requires work on the student’s part to let colleagues & others know when they are in their work role and when they are in their student role. In the student role, students are always subject to the rules and regulations as such from both institutions.

    Types of employment this degree & certification prepare you for:

    The Detroit Mercy AGCNS program prepares you as a specialist in Adult-Gerontology APRN practice across settings to include a role in prescribing and billing for services. Most of our graduates work in acute care in specialty areas but we are seeing more interest among AGCNSs to work in non-acute care settings. This change in practice settings or movement across settings in highly encouraged by the NACNS.

    Certification Exam

    In order to practice as an AGCNS, students must pass a national certification exam following graduation. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for national AGCNS certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and if additional criteria is met, Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.

    Can I Work?

    Most of our students do work (either full or part-time) during their course of study.  Be mindful though, that this is a very rigorous program.  Evaluate your employment situation to determine if you will have the necessary flexibility and time to complete the program requirements.

    Faculty

    All of the faculty that instruct you while in this clinical program, maintain an active APRN certification as a CNS.

    What to Expect from Here:

    You can expect lots of support in the program from professors and support staff. Students first-is our mission!

AGCNS highlights

Our graduates achieve great careers. One-hundred percent of Detroit Mercy AGCNS graduates are employed in CNS roles, care coordination, academia and across setttings to include telemedicine.

CNSs saw the highest pay spikes among APRNs in 2017 up to $102,000, which is an increase of 7.4 percent over 2015 figures (Medscape APRN Compensation Report 2017).

The 2016-18 Detroit Mercy graduating classes achieved a 100 percent pass rate across the national certification exams for the Adult-Gerontology CNS through ANCC (non-acute care CNS), AACN (critical care CNS) and ONC-C (oncology).

What are our students saying?

Tracey E. Robilotto

"I passed the ACNS (first try), I was so well prepared by the program."

Carol Batchelder

"You have a terrific program with great support staff. It is very cohesive and collaborative."

Elevator Speeches

"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 
Master's Student

"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 
Post Master's Certificate

Mitzi Saunders headshot"One aspect of my role is to bring evidence-based practice to patients through direct care, the nurses or leading projects. I focus on quality and safety, clinical care issues like readmissions, errors, new technology, nurse and patient education and satisfaction. I analyze the metrics on a regular basis and communicate how we are doing or what needs more work,"

— Mitzi M. Saunders 
Program Coordinator