August 18, 2019
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5 Key Courses in a Clinical Nurse Leadership Degree Program

5 Courses Central to a Clinical Nurse Leadership Degree Program

  • Evidenced-Based Practice
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Comprehensive Health Assessment
  • Leadership in Clinical Nursing

The foundation of a clinical nurse leadership degree program is built on key courses, equipping nurses to optimize the care and safety of the patients under their wing. With an eagle eye for averting medical errors, a clinical nurse leader (CNL) wears many supervisory hats. Among them are the care coordinator, patient advocate, nurse mentor, and quality assurance nurse.

Additionally, a CNL provides direct patient care on a designated unit of a long-term or acute care facility. To fulfill these multiple roles, a nurse must have a strong background in general medicine, nursing practice, administration, and healthcare systems. Accordingly, here are five courses at the heart of every CNL master’s program.

Related resource: Top 50 Clinical Nurse Leadership Degree Programs

1. Evidenced-Based Practice

This course, abbreviated EBP, teaches a problem-solving means of improving healthcare outcomes. Students learn to make informed clinical decisions by considering the evidence of well-designed research. The EBP process begins with formulating a clinical question, followed by gauging which types of studies will yield the best answers and where to search for them.

Next, a practitioner evaluates study quality, using various rating systems. They also employ unique methods of data collection and analysis, specific to EBP. To ensure patient safety, a practitioner must be able to interpret research statistics.

EBP decision-making also includes a nurse’s clinical experience, facility protocols, patient values, and individual treatment preferences. From The Nest, here are the advantages of evidenced-based practice for patients, nurses, and the healthcare profession.

2. Advanced Pharmacology

Since CNLs evaluate drug regimens, advanced pharmacology is among the key courses in a clinical nurse leadership degree program. If a CNL is an advanced practice nurse practitioner, they may also prescribe medicines, depending on their state regulations. For these two reasons, this course instills comprehensive medication knowledge.

First, drug classifications are differentiated by their indications, efficacy, and medical risks. Then, medications are studied for their effects on particular body systems. Following this, the course spotlights specific drugs to treat infections, inflammation, and common diseases.

Once nurses are familiar with drug types and their therapeutic actions, they learn how to predict medication performance and patient responses. In keeping with sound pharmacological practice, nurses study current drug legislation, regulation, and research. Students also gain skills in patient education, promoting medication compliance after facility discharge.

3. Healthcare Informatics

The goal of this science is facilitating access by medical staff to electronic patient records. A primary benefit is fostering multidisciplinary collaboration. In turn, synchronized medical services improve patient outcomes. Since a CNL is a liaison between facility professionals, Health Informatics is among the key courses in a clinical nurse leadership degree program.

The first topic covered is administrative tools, including communication systems, medical terminology, clinical guidelines, and information technology (IT). Next, nurses become acquainted with the basic design of electronic records systems. Then, students learn various ways to store and retrieve patient data.

With a firm grasp of healthcare informatics, CNLs can better link facility objectives to performance indicators. Plus, digital documentation lowers the risk of medical errors, making healthcare safer. In some medical facilities, CNLs are involved in tweaking IT systems for better outcome targeting and analysis.

4. Comprehensive Health Assessment

To reduce medical risks, a CNL is responsible for overseeing patient care plans. This function includes making thorough medical evaluations. Therefore, Comprehensive Health Assessment is among the key courses in a CNL degree curriculum.

The main course objective is learning how to systemically examine a patient, along with obtaining a detailed medical history. From these findings, a CNL formulates a problem list and differential diagnosis. To achieve this, a nurse needs in-depth knowledge of body systems and their associated pathology.

Next, the CNL designs and documents a treatment plan, possibly including a drug regimen and medical therapies. The nurse’s projected outcomes should support the goals of their fellow team members. During supervised lab sessions of this course, students practice all the skills required to perform and implement a complete health assessment.

5. Leadership in Clinical Nursing

In this dynamic course, nurses delve into the traits, behaviors, and styles that epitomize stellar nurse leaders. First, students examine the qualities of model administrators, both past and present, identifying the reasons for their success. Then, nurses explore signs of leadership, such as the ability to connect with others, spur motivation, make wise decisions, show integrity, demonstrate fairness, resolve conflicts, and uphold ethics.

Emphasis is placed on developing interpersonal skills that inspire staff teamwork. Typically, students achieve this goal through animated role-playing, discussions, and problem-solving. Nurses also probe case studies for their takeaway lessons.

In particular, the course spotlights leadership characteristics that enhance patient care. On a broader scale, nurses learn how to work with interdisciplinary teams to fine-tune medical services across departmental lines.

Fun Curriculum

Would you like to earn a master’s degree in nursing but have limited time for coursework and commuting? If so, consider an online program format. This option may be ideal if you’re strong in self-discipline and time management. Here, US News and World Report reveals students’ tips for synchronizing work and personal life with online program requirements.

The key courses in a clinical nurse leadership degree program create a springboard for gaining advanced nursing and supervisory skills. Typically, a core curriculum includes learning modules in Evidence-Based Practice, Advanced Pharmacology, Healthcare Informatics, Comprehensive Health Assessment, and Leadership in Clinical Nursing.

This is just a snapshot of the exciting career path that awaits. The big picture is even more thrilling!