Clinical Nurse Specialist

Job Description

A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is part of the senior nursing staff that work predominately within the acute care sector.  Their role is to observe changes and health deterioration, interpret clinical data, diagnose and analyse complex health problems, and determine a treatment plan for seriously ill or injured patients. A CNS acts as the leader in their specialised area and is responsible for:

  • Provide direct patient care
  • Diagnose health issues and develop treatment plans
  • Devise clinical best practice
  • Collaborate with other nursing personnel
  • Conduct research to improve clinical practice
  • Educate other nurses in their specialised field

A Clinical Nurse can choose to specialise on varying areas of medicine, such as cardiology, gynaecology, neuroscience, oncology, paediatrics and many more. They can also be assigned to practice in emergency rooms. And so depending on the area you specialise in, your role as a CNS may vary between fields.

Prior to becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist you would need to have all the practical experience and qualifications of a Registered Nurse with at least three years practical full time experience. Registered Nurses (RNs) work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside other skilled professionals including doctors, surgeons, specialists, therapists, specialty nurses, social workers and many others to provide ongoing patient care to people who are sick, disabled, injured or recovering from surgery.  Registered nurses deliver primary health care predominantly in hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, aged care facilities, Government or military institutions, community or school settings, in the home or in outpatient facilities.  See Registered Nurse in the Careers Ladder to read more about their role and responsibilities.


To become a Registered Nurse in Australia you need to complete a 3-year Bachelor of Nursing, which is available at most Australian universities.   Alternatively, for students with previous tertiary qualifications, complete a two-year Master of Nursing (Graduate Entry) program.  Further study is essential if you are looking to take the next step in your career and advance in specialist nursing roles.  

A Clinical Nurse Specialist demonstrates a higher level of skill in their clinical decision making, especially when it comes to problem identification and solution, and analysing and interpreting clinical data.  It’s a varied role with patient care at its cornerstone.

All nurses must apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). Registration must be renewed annually.


  • Ambitious
  • Articulate
  • Autonomous
  • Competent
  • Communicator
  • Confident
  • Conscientious
  • Dedicated
  • Diligent
  • Educated
  • Focussed
  • Intelligent
  • Motivated
  • Proficient
  • Resourceful
  • Specialised

Key Skills

  • AHPRA Registration
  • Nursing
  • Aged Care
  • Acute Care
  • AHPRA Scheduled Medicine Endorsement
  • Patient Care
  • CPR Certificate
  • Time Management
  • Care plans

Future Prospects

Clinical Nurse Specialists can specialise in other roles, undertaking further studies to obtain qualifications and specialise in a particular area of nursing. There are also opportunities to progress your career into more senior roles such as;

Registered Nurses can specialise in other roles, undertaking further studies to obtain qualifications and specialise in a particular area of nursing.  Specialised Nursing Roles include: