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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 



Earn Continuing Education Credit with AACN's CNL Certification Exam Review Modules

The modules are designed for:

  • Individuals seeking to prepare for the CNL Certification Examination
  • Practicing CNLs renewing certification through continuing education units (CEUs)
  • Nursing students and professionals seeking continuing professional development opportunities

The CNL Certification Exam Review Course features 17 chapters across 6 separate modules. By completing all 6 modules, you are eligible to receive 18 continuing education credits.

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News & Announcements
  • AACN Launches New CNL Certification Exam Review Modules

    April 6, 2021

    AACN is thrilled to announce the launch of the new Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Certification Exam Review Modules! Visit the CNL Module web page to learn more and purchase.

  • AACN and CNC Announces 2021 CNL Educator and Vanguard Award Winners

    February 1, 2021

    AACN and CNC announced the latest winners of the annual Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Awards, which recognize exceptional CNLs in academia and practice. Honorees include Latasha Kast from the UPMC Passavant, selected for the CNL Vanguard Award for exemplary practice as a CNL, and Rosemary Hoffmann from the University of Pittsburgh, who will receive the CNL Educator Award.

  • New CNL Innovative Project Award

    July 1, 2020

    The Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) is now accepting applications for the 2021 CNL Innovative Project Award. The award application process is open to CNLs, faculty, and practice partners. The submission deadline is October 31, 2020 at 11:59 PM ET. Applicants will be notified on February 28th. The award will be disbursed on March 31st. Learn more and download the application.

Congratulations to the 2021 CNL Educator & Vanguard Award Winners

Rosemary Hoffmann, PhD, RN, CNL
Associate Professor
University of Pittsburgh


Latasha Kast, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNL
Advanced Clinical Education Specialist for Critical Care
UPMC Passavant 

Value of the CNL

Login to the CNC Web Portal!

To access the CNC web portal, click the button below.

MyCNC Portal

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