CNL Exam Recommended Reading

CNC has prepared a list of recommended reading materials submitted by CNL educators that may be helpful in preparing for the CNL exam, in addition to AACN's Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse LeaderSM Education and Practice.

NOTE: The list does not guarantee successful passing of the certification exam nor is it inclusive of all reading materials used by CNL education programs. CNC does not endorse any of the publications listed below nor does it have a proprietary relationship with any publishing company.


Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, JA; Solomon, B.S, Stewart, R.W. (2019). Seidel's guide to physical examination. 9th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier. Mosby-Year Book.

Black, B. P. (2017). Professional nursing: concepts and challenges. 8th Ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier/Saunders.

Borkowski, N. (2016). Organizational behavior, theory, and design in health care. 2nd Ed. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Burhardt, M.A. & Nathaniel, A.K. (2014). Ethics & issues in contemporary nursing. 4th Ed. Stanford, CT: Cengage.

Harris, J.L., Roussel, L.A. & Thomas, T. (2018). Initiating and sustaining the clinical nurse leader role: a practical guide. 3rd Ed. Burlington, MA:  Jones & Bartlett.

King, C. R. & Gerard, S. (2016). Clinical Nurse Leader Certification Review. 2nd Ed. New York, NY:  Springer.

King, C. R., Gerard, S. O., & Rapp, C. G. (2019). Essential knowledge for CNL and APRN Nurse Leaders. Springer.

Marquis, B. & Huston, C. (2017). Leadership Roles and Management Functions in Nursing. 9th Ed. Wolters Kluwer.

Mason, D.J., Gardner, D.B, et al. (2016). Policy and politics in nursing and health care. 7th Ed. Elsevier, Inc.

McCance, K.L. & Huether, S.E., et al. (2019). Pathophysiology, the biologic basis for disease in adults and children. 8th Ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

McGonigle, D. & Mastrain K. G. (2015). Nursing Informatics and the foundation of knowledge. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Melnyk, B. & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2019). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: a guide to best practice. 4rd Ed. Wolters Kluwer.

Nelson, E.C., Batalden, P.B. & Godfrey, M.M. (2007). Quality by design: a clinical microsystems approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Saba, V.K. & McCormick K.A. (2015). Essentials of nursing informatics. 6th Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. 

Schmidt, N. A., & Brown, J. M. (2015). Evidence-based practice for nurses. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Schneider, D. & Lilienfeld, D.E. (2015). Lilienfeld's foundations of epidemiology. 4th Ed., New York, NY:  Oxford University Press.

Weberg, D., Mangold K., et al (2019). Leadership in nursing practice: changing the landscape of health care. 3rd Ed., Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning LLC.


Bender, Mann, and Olsen, (2001). Leading Transformation: Implementing the Clinical Nurse Leader Role. Journal of Nursing Administration, 41(7-8), 296-298.

Bender, M., Connelly, C., Glaser, D., and Brown, C. (2012). Clinical Nurse Leader Impact on Microsystem Care Quality, Nursing Research, 61(5), 326-332.

Bowcutt, M. & Goolsby, M.J. (2006). The Clinical Nurse Leader: Promoting Patient-Centered Outcomes, Nursing Administration Quarterly, 30(2), 156-161.

L’Ecuyer, K. M., Shatto, B. J., Hoffmann, R. L., Crecelius, M. L. (2016). The certified clinical nurse leader in critical care. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 35(5), 248-254.

L’Ecuyer, K.M. (2016). Letter to the editor: Do not forget the clinical nurse leader. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 35(5), 299.

McKeon, L.M., Norris, T.L., Webb, S., Hix, C., Ramsey, G., and Jacob, S. R. (2009). Teaching clinical nurse leaders how to diagnose the clinical microsystem. Journal of Professional Nursing, 25(6), 373-378.

Nelson, et al. (2008). Clinical microsystems, part 1. The building blocks of health systems. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 34(7), 367-378.

Shatto, B, Meyer, G., & Delicath, T. A, (2016). The transition to practice of Direct Entry Clinical Nurse Leader graduates. Nurse Education in Practice, 19, 97-103.

Sheets, M., et al. (2012). CNL’s Make a Difference, Nursing 2012, 42(8), 54-58. doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000415837.20995.e2

Sherman, Edwards, Giovengo, & Hilton.  The Role of the Clinical Nurse Leader in Promoting a Healthy Work Environment at the Unit Level. Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, 32(4), 264-271.

NCSBN Model Nursing Practice and Model Nursing Administrative Rules

NQF National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Patient Outcomes 2009

Pain management in older adults. In: Evidence-based geriatric nursing protocols for best practice.

Web Resources

Agency for Healthcare and Research and Quality Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2013). Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse LeaderSM Education and Practice.

Dartmouth Institute (2005). Clinical Microsystems Greenbooks. Available at:

Dartmouth Institute. (2010). Microsystems at a glance. Available at:

IOM: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. (2010). Washington, DC., National Academies Press.

IOM: Keeping patients safe, transforming the work environment of nurses. (2004). Washington, DC., National Academies Press, p. 257.

Lee B., Peck C., Rutherford P. & Shannon D. (2008). Transforming care at the bedside how-to guide: developing front-line nursing managers to lead innovation and improvement. Cambridge, MA: Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Available at:

Health Resources and Services Administration. Series of quality improvement methodology modules:

Health Resources and Services Administration. Clinical quality measures: