Roles enacted by Clinical Nurse Leaders across the healthcare spectrum: A systematic literature review

Jacqueline A. Clavo-Hall, Miriam Bender, Theresa A Harvath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) is a master's prepared nurse envisioned to provide clinical leadership at the microsystem level to ensure safe, high quality patient-centered care. The American Association of Colleges of Nurses defined ten 'fundamental aspects' of CNL practice, but as the certified CNL population grows, data suggest they are filling a variety of positions besides formally designated CNL roles. This article reports the results of a systematic review of CNL literature to better understand what roles and activities certified CNLs are enacting when not hired into formally designated CNL roles. Sixty-nine articles met inclusion criteria. Roles identified include: faculty, 62%; clinical management/executive, 12%; specialty clinician, 11%; and staff nurse, 9%. In these roles, certified CNLs are reviewing literature, conducting research, and/or writing commentaries on CNL education and practice and other health foci such as alarm fatigue, insulin practices, and physical exercise for cancer-related fatigue. Results indicate that despite a lack of formal tracking of certified CNLs over time, the available information identifies a variety of roles and job titles used by this group of professional nurses. The study findings add to the body of knowledge informing overall understanding of the CNL initiative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017


  • Clinical nurse leader
  • CNL
  • Professional roles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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