The following article features coverage from the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) 2018 Annual Conference in Austin, Texas. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage. 

A model in which the clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are ambulatory enhanced patient care, improved outcomes, and led to the development of innovative care systems throughout the continuum of cancer care, according to a health system study presented at the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) 2018 Annual Conference.

Clinical nurse specialists in the ambulatory program historically focused on one clinical area/patient care location. However, CNSs are able to mirror the movement of patients across sites and providers within our healthcare system. This autonomy allows them to develop and implement innovative projects that enhance patient care and improve outcomes, encouraging integration and collaboration throughout the continuum of care.

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Oncology clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) were identified as key players to support nursing practice and enhance care delivery systems. Therefore, the oncology CNS group was granted the autonomy to redefine its practices, creating a new model for the group.

The new model incorporates 5 CNS positions whose focus areas include clinical trials, infusion, malignant hematology/BMT, breast/radiation oncology, and solid tumor. For this study, the CNS team sought to show that this model supports top-of-license CNS practice in all 3 spheres and full competency acquisition.

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The population-based practice allows each CNS to provide consistent care for patients in the different physical locations where their patients were receiving care. Capitalizing on the overlap that exists between focus areas, the CNSs were able to collaborate on projects that addressed patient care issues, maximizing the expertise available to tackle clinical challenges. Ambulatory CNSs work with inpatient staff to assure a comprehensive approach and enhance transitions of care for patients. 

The new model allows CNSs to navigate through the continuum of cancer care with their patients undergoing treatment. To date, this model is successfully filling in previously existing gaps in patient care.


Cotter J, Portz D, Verbeten A, Rudnitzki T, Sweeney K. Our new ambulatory oncology CNS model of practice: pouring a new foundation to fill old cracks. Oral presentation at: NACNS 2018 Annual Conference; February 28-March 3, 2018; Austin, TX.