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Day in the Life of a Clinical Nurse Leader

imageCaroline Hosseini, an alumnae of the Presbyterian School of Nursing Graduate Program, works as a Clinical Nurse Leader at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
07/22/13 -  

A recent interview with Queens alumna Caroline Hosseini offers a glimpse into the fast-paced and rewarding world of a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL).  Caroline was able to take on this exciting role and transition from being a Registered Nurse, after receiving her Master of Science in Nursing from Queens. Caroline now serves as a Clinical Nurse Leader at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

What inspired you to join the nursing profession?

Personal experiences strongly encouraged me to go into the profession of nursing. I lost my mother to breast cancer as a child and saw the caring and compassion nurses had for my mother and my family. As I grew up, I became intrigued with health and wellbeing. I researched how western medicine can work with natural therapy to create holistic care for mind and body. After several mission trips to Mexico serving on the medical team, I found my calling to become a nurse.

What attracted you to the CNL role and what do you enjoy most about it?

The CNL role promotes creating the best care plan for patients and their families. The CNL coordinates care between MDs, physical/occupational therapies, nutrition, discharge planners and other providers involved in the patients' care. We are the glue that binds the different healthcare disciplines together so that information is not missed. The CNL is also the guardian of the nursing profession, always supporting fellow nurses and seeking new knowledge by looking for the best evidenced-based practice.  The role reviews the quality of care and seeks to understand how to continue improving it for patient safety and the best outcomes.

What do you find most challenging as a CNL?

You have to manage a microsystem of patients and monitor the outcomes for each. This can be 12 to 18 patients. It is important to prioritize needs while ensuring every patient gets the best care they deserve.  Another challenging aspect is finding the resources that patients need only to find out that insurance will not cover the need or the patient lacks funding. CNLs continue to work with community resources and become involved in important healthcare legislation.

What personal qualities would you say make a nurse well suited for the CNL role?

The CNL must be a lifelong learner and have commitment to the nursing profession. Our role provides compassion and caring to patients and co-workers. The CNL must possess leadership qualities to collaborate with others and step in during difficult situations.

No two days are alike, but could you describe how a typical day on the job might look for you?

I work in an inpatient hospital setting on a fast-paced neurosurgical unit. We receive surgical patients who have had back and brain surgeries. We also see patients who have had head and back trauma from accidents.  A typical day includes:

  • Arrive at shift change 0645 and review patients' electronic charts. The CNL reviews labs, vital signs, tests and any changes overnight
  • Give a short report with each oncoming nurse working in my microsystem
  • Unit meets as a group for huddle - the CNL may make announcements or review research and evidence of best practice
  • Round with the doctors at bedside when possible and round on patients in the microsystem
  • Review with patients and their family the plan of care and goals for the day, such as pain management
  • Provide patient and family education as needed
  • Meet with discharge planners and social workers to review patients and determine who is ready for discharge
  • Document on patients' electronic chart the plan of care and any assessments or interventions with patients
  • Assist bedside nurses with more detailed physical assessment and administration of medications as needed
  • Collaborate with other therapies: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and clinical nutrition to review patients' goals/needs
  • Be a resource for staff to find research, protocols and teaching materials
  • Meet at 1400 for unit huddle to review discharges, needs and incoming patients

What was a key learning from your experience studying at Queens that helped prepare you for your current role? What did you most like about the Queens educational experience?

Queens provided me with an excellent opportunity to learn about the Clinical Nurse Leader role with a small classroom size and knowledgeable professors. The role was new but the student/professor team found resources to learn and grow the role of a CNL. We were able to learn in a variety of settings from classroom presentations, clinicals and online discussion boards.

Learn more about Queens' Master of Science in Nursing Program, including an online program now available.


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