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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

  • New CNL Database Coming Soon!

    May 8, 2019

    We have some exciting news for our Clinical Nurse Leaders, CNL students, CNL faculty and customers! CNC will be integrating to a new CNL database by Wednesday, May 29, 2019 to provide even better quality service. In order to make this a smooth transition, we will be taking our old database out of service from Tuesday, May 21st through Tuesday, May 28th and you will not be able to apply for the exam, renew certification or submit payment. Learn more.

  • CNC Call for Volunteers

    December 1, 2018

    The Commission on Nurse Certification is now accepting applications for four available positions on the CNC Board of Commissioners (CNCBOC), one position on the Marketing Committee and eight positions on the Item Writers Committee. CNCBOC and Item Writer positions require a three-year commitment. Marketing Committee positions require a two-year commitment. Click here to download the guidelines and application or contact CNC’s Staff at for more information.

  • New CNCBOC & Committee Members

    June 7, 2018

    Join CNC in congratulating and welcoming new members of the CNC Board of Commissioners, the Marketing Committee and the Item Writers Committee!

  • Louisiana Bill Amended and Passed by Senate

    May 21, 2018

    On May 16th the Louisiana Senate passed the revised version of the Occupational Licensing Review Act (Louisiana House Bill 748), which was amended to clearly allow the use of professional certification credentials in the state. The bill was introduced by Louisiana State Rep. Julie Emerson and was intended to increase employment opportunities by easing licensing requirements for certain jobs. CNC delivered a letter in opposition to HB 748 to Rep. Emerson in early May as did many other professional certification associations and certificants. Rep. Emerson spoke directly to CNC Director, Shantal Hall to inform CNC that it was not the intent of the bill to restrict professionals from using the term “certified” and that the bill will be amended as such after a huge response of opposition from professional certification associations nationwide. Thanks to the many certified CNLs and stakeholders who contacted Louisiana legislators about the bill which allowed for the change in the bill’s content.

  • Louisiana Bill Threatens Certification

    April 26, 2018

    The Occupational Licensing Review Act (Louisiana House Bill 748) was introduced last month by Louisiana State Rep. Julie Emerson and passed the House by a vote of 87-7. The legislation appears to be on its way to passage in the Senate and is supported by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). CNC will deliver a letter in opposition to HB 748 to Rep. Emerson this week. We urge CNLs who are concerned about this bill to contact their member of the state senate and voice their opposition to HB 748. The bill could become law by mid-May when the legislature is scheduled to adjourn. If passed, the risks to certification programs could eventually expand far beyond the state of Louisiana. Read more.

  • AACN Announces Award Winners for the 2018 CNL Awards

    February 14, 2018

    AACN is pleased to announce the latest winners of the annual CNL Awards, which recognize the innovative work of certified CNLs in practice and education.