Anyone considering earning an online MSN in Clinical Nurse Leader program should take the time to research the differences between distance education and traditional curriculum delivery. Online degree programs, in general, are growing in popularity throughout the nation, however, not all programs can be administered entirely online, especially within the clinical nurse leader role. Potential MSN students who are planning to take the clinical nurse leadership track should take time to research accredited Master’s of Nursing programs and what percentage of these programs are facilitated online.

Typical MSN in Clinical Nurse Leadership Credit Requirements

Earning an MSN in Clinical Nurse Leadership will help expand a registered nurse’s career options. With an MSN in an area of nursing like clinical leadership or clinical administration, professionals with years of clinical experience can take a patient-centered approach to process improvement and implementations that will improve the outcomes of care within a hospital or medical care facility. To get qualified for a role like this, RN’s will need to between 38 and 46 credits, depending on the program itself. Some of the required major-focused curriculum covered in an MSN in Clinical Nurse Leader program include:

  • Applied Statistics
  • Pathophysiology
  • Organizational Theory
  • Management Theory
  • Research in Evidence-Based Practice Settings
  • Pharmacology
  • Quality of Healthcare
  • Disease Prevention in Diverse Cultures
  • Ethics in Advanced Nursing Practices
  • Mentoring in Clinical Settings
  • Health Informatics
  • Nurse Leadership Development
  • Contemporary Issues in Nursing

Clinical Hours Needed to Graduate the Clinical Nurse Leader Program

Students who would like a graduate degree in clinical nurse leadership will have to complete coursework, conduct research, and also complete as many as 400 clinical hours. The online coursework can be completed entirely online with accredited institutions that are recognized by the American Association of College of Nursing as this is the overseeing accreditation body and the credentialing body that administers the clinical nurse leader certification exams.

In addition to completing the MSN credits needed to fulfill curriculum requirements, a majority of programs will have a clinical practicum requirement. Students must demonstrate that they have fulfilled the clinical hour requirement at a local healthcare facility in addition to the core curriculum requirements before they will be able to complete the clinical practicum. Practicums were typically weighed at two to three credits of the overall program requirements.

Weighing Costs and Gains of the MSN in Clinical Nurse Leadership

It takes a full-time clinical nurse leader student approximately two years to complete the MSN program and qualify to take the clinical nurse leader certificate examination. Whether or not it is worth it to pay the cost of the MSN program and spend the time depends on both the prospective students professional goals and how much they would potentially earn based on where they would like to work.

Related Resource: Top 20 Most Affordable MSN in Clinical Nurse Leader Online Programs

It could cost graduate nursing students more than $1,200 per unit to earn an MSN in Clinical Nurse Leadership. For those without scholarships or employer-sponsored tuition programs, this could be a huge investment of money. The average registered nurse earns $71,730 in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Considering this statistic and the recently released data projecting average CNL salaries at $101,821 per year, many prospective students consider the course requirements and clinical requirements worth fulfilling for the CNL certification. Map out the time it will take to take a full-time online MSN in Clinical Nurse Leader and determine if the investment is worth it.