Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

Two nurses work together at a computer.The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) major prepares an advanced generalist practitioner to provide clinical leadership at the point of service in a variety of practice settings. Built from the core curriculum in other master’s degree programs, this advanced generalist nurse is differentiated from advanced practice nurses in their abilities to:

  • manage complex clinical cases and provide leadership at the point of care;
  • scan the practice environment to identify opportunities for quality and process improvements;
  • use technology and informatics to support outcomes measurement; and
  • lead teams in the delivery of health care in multiple settings across the care continuum.

This program assists nurses in developing advanced clinical knowledge, leadership skills, and systems knowledge to provide care and clinical leadership in all health care settings at the point of service; implement evidence-based and outcomes-based practice; develop and implement quality improvement strategies; and create and manage microsystems of care that will be responsive to the needs of individuals and families. The program is designed to prepare nurse leaders who can address contemporary issues in an evolving health care environment. Graduates of the CNL program are eligible to sit for the Clinical Nurse Leader certification exam offered by the AACN Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC).

The post-BSN to DNP with MSN exit with a major in CNL requires a total of 72 credits. A total of 41 credit hours and 300-400 clinical hours must be completed for the MSN exit where the Master of Science in Nursing is conferred. Since the clinical nurse leader major does not include an advanced nursing practice major, these students complete an Executive Leadership bridge (6 credits) to the DNP. After the bridge, 25 credits and additional clinical hours are required for the completion of the DNP.

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.

Information Sessions by Zoom - Meet with Dr. Stocker-Schneider

  • Nov. 19, 2020 (Thursday), 5:30p - 6:30p on Zoom
  • Dec. 9, 2021 (Wednesday), 12:00p - 1:00p on Zoom

All times are local time in Detroit (EST or EDT).  RSVP at with your name, state of residence, email address and date of information session(s).  A link to the virtual session will be sent for the date requested. At the virtual meeting, Dr. Stocker-Schneider will take your questions and assist you in making the very important decision to return to school.

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    Sample Program Plan


    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 5500

    Physical Assessment & Advanced Pharmacology

    4 credits

    HLH 5900

    Advanced Pathophysiology

    3 credits

    NUR 5940

    Clinical Immersion

    4 credits

    CNL Concentration Courses

    NUR 5350

    Outcomes Management & Decision Support in Nursing

    3 credits

    NUR 5420

    Management of the Health Care Environment

    2 credits

    NUR 5450

    Business Planning for Nurse Leaders

    2 credits

    NUR 5650

    Population Health & Care Transitions Management

    2 credits

    NUR 5830

    Leadership & Quality Improvement in Clinical Microsystems

    3 credits

    Organizational Leadership Bridge

    NUR 5170

    Management & Leadership in Nursing

    2 credits

    HLH 5040

    Accounting & Financial Management in Nursing Leadership

    4 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: 71 (41 for MSN conferral, 6 credits for DNP Organizational Leadership Bridge and 24 for completion of DNP)

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


    Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master's Certificate

    The Post-Master’s Clinical Nurse Leader Certificate Program (19 credits) at the University of Detroit Mercy prepares qualified nurses to function in the role of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). The CNL provides leadership at the point-of-care to serve as a provider and outcomes manager for a unit or specific group of patients known as a clinical microsystem. The CNL is uniquely prepared to perform primary responsibilities at the point-of-care including: 

    • Clinical leadership of patient care delivery for individuals, families, groups and populations;
    • Care practice design, coordination and evaluation at the point-of-care;
    • Collaboration in the identification and collection of care outcomes;
    • Team leadership in continuous quality improvement based on the synthesis of performance data and the application of evidence-based practice (EBP) to achieve optimal outcomes;
    • Lateral integration of care for individuals and patient groups;
    • Leadership of interprofessional healthcare teams to foster collaboration and the management of patient care and care processes;
    • EBP implementation;
    • Risk anticipation for individuals and patient groups;
    • Information management using healthcare information systems and technology to improve care outcomes;
    • Stewardship and judicious use of human, material and environmental resources; and Advocacy for patients, communities and the healthcare team (AACN, 2013)

    Established to recognize nurses who have completed master of science in Nursing degrees, this certificate program builds on past clinical course work to incorporate unique attributes of microsystem leadership and lateral integration, quality improvement, evidence-based practice, outcomes management and management of complex work environments to prepare nurse leaders who can address contemporary issues in an evolving healthcare environment by addressing fragmentation of care, systems inefficiencies and concerns about patient safety and quality of care.

    The Post-Master’s CNL certificate program requires 19 credit hours of course work inclusive of a clinical immersion project (designed with the health system partner).

    Online Program

    The program is taught in an engaging online format that is flexible and student-centered. Students need not be a resident of Michigan to enroll in the program. Clinical sites and qualified preceptors are identified near the student’s home to complete the required clinical immersion. A certificate of completion is awarded at the completion of the certificate program requirements.

    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.

    Clinical Nurse Leader Post-Master's Certificate Sample Program Plan