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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
  • 2020 CNL Summit Call for Abstracts

    September 26, 2019

    The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is now accepting abstracts for the 2020 CNL Summit being held February 20-22 at the Hilton Palacio Del Rio Hotel in San Antonio, TX. NOTE: The abstract submission deadline is November 4, 2019 by 12:00 PM ET.

  • 2020 CNL Awards Call for Nominations

    September 26, 2019

    The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) are now accepting applications for the 2020 CNL Educator Award and the 2020 CNL Vanguard Award. The recipients will be recognized at the CNL Summit, February 20-22, 2020 at the Hilton Palacio Del Rio Hotel in San Antonio, TX. NOTE: The submission deadline for each award is November 8, 2019 by 5:00 PM ET.

  • 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!


2019 CNL Educator and Vanguard Award Winners

Pamela DeGuzman Headshot        Cory Franks Headshot       

Read the press release.

Upcoming Conferences
CNL Summit

February 20-22, 2020
Hilton Palacio Del Rio, San Antonio, TX

CNL Research Symposium

February 20, 2020
Hilton Palacio Del Rio, San Antonio, TX

Value of the CNL

Clinical Nurse Leaders Class of 2019 Academy Fellows

Join the Commission on Nurse Certification in congratulating three certified Clinical Nurse Leaders recognized as 2019 New Fellows of the American Academy of Nursing:        


Annette Bourgault, PhD, RN, CNL
Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida College of Nursing
Nurse Scientist, Orlando Health               

Lauran J. Hardin, MSN, RN-BC, CNL, FNAP
Senior Advisor, Camden Coalition National Center for Complex and Social Needs, American Academy of Nursing Edge Runner     

Meg Zomorodi, PhD, RN, CNL 
Assistant Provost, Director for the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill