In This Section


Contact us at

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

The Clinical Nurse LeaderSM or CNL® is a master’s educated nurse, prepared for practice across the continuum of care within any healthcare setting. The CNL was developed by AACN in collaboration with leaders from healthcare practice and education to address the critical need to improve the quality of patient care outcomes.

The CNL is a clinical leader - at the point of care – who focuses on:

  • Care Coordination
  • Outcomes Measurement
  • Transitions of Care
  • Interprofessional Communication & Team Leadership
  • Risk Assessment
  • Implementation of Best Practices Based on Evidence
  • Quality Improvement

Learn more about the CNL 


News & Announcements

  • Call for Nominations for the 2018 CNL Awards

    September 19, 2017

    AACN and the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) are now accepting nominations for the 2018 CNL Educator Award and the CNL Vanguard Award. Application deadline is November 10..

  • New Recommended CNL Practice Experiences

    June 13, 2017

    AACN has released a list of 24 experiences that are deemed to be critical for preparing CNL graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively perform in diverse practice settings and systems upon graduation. The list was developed by an Expert Panel comprised of CNL faculty, representatives from practice, and practicing CNLs.

  • CNC Welcomes New Board of Commissioners and Item Writers

    June 1, 2017

    Congratulations to the New CNC Board of Commissioners (CNCBOC) and Item Writers who will start their terms on July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2020. CNC staff, current CNCBOC members and Item Writers look forward to their contributions.

  • AACN Announces CNL Visionary Leader and Vanguard Awards

    January 24, 2017

    AACN is pleased to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Murphy, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Mercy Health Saint Mary's, is the recipient of the 2017 CNL Visionary Leader Award. The highest honor presented by AACN to practice leaders making significant contributions to advancing the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) initiative, this award will be presented at the 2017 CNL Summit in Atlanta, GA on February 22, 2017. The CNL Vanguard Award, which recognizes the innovative work of CNL-certified nurses and CNL nurse educators, will also be presented to Dr. Bonnie Haupt from South Texas VA Healthcare System and Dr. Tricia Thomas from Grand Valley State University.

Call for Abstracts

Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Summit

Driving Transformation in Health Care: The Clinical Nurse Leader

AACN invites faculty, nursing administrators, practicing CNLs and students to submit abstracts that showcase initiatives and innovations in either CNL education or practice. 

View Call for Abstracts

Submission Deadline: November 1