Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)  is:

  • an expert in a clinical field

  • has strong educational skills to teach nurses in the hospital and in academia

  • and leads research efforts to promote evidence-based care

The CNS will interact with the health delivery team in care delivery, staff development, and research to promote evidence-based care in the select population. As change agents in the health care system, a CNS is instrumental in addressing issues of quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness in healthcare systems. 

There are three domains of practice, known as the three "spheres of influence" :

  1. patient/family

  2. nursing personnel

  3. system/network organization

More agencies and networks are utilizing the expertise of the CNS to assist in outcomes improvement research and process implementation.

The DeSales CNS program provides hospital-based clinical experiences to prepare graduates to work with a variety of adult populations.

Students acquire the clinical and experiential knowledge and competencies to supervise and improve care for adult patient populations within the expanded scope of advanced nursing practice.

Christian moral and ethical principles serve as the guide for care giving, communication, collaboration, and decision-making.

Graduates are eligible to take the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist national certification examination offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

Full-time or part-time class schedules

  • Full-time students can complete the program in two calendar years

  • Part-time students can complete the program in three calendar years

Online, hybrid and in-class courses

  • Complete core courses completely online or in a hybrid format

  • Advanced core and specialty/clinical courses are in a hybrid format

Clinical placements coordinated by the University

  • Student placements are arranged by the Clinical Liaison and Clinical Faculty in nationally-ranked clinical facilities throughout the Lehigh Valley and beyond

Program summary

Courses: 12 courses + Capstone Portfolio
Total Credits: 45
Total Clinical Hours: 525

Sample part-time plan*

YEAR 1 NU 530 (Research) - 3 cr.

NU 538 (Informatics) - 3 cr.

NU 522 (Policy) - 3 cr.

NU 626 (Pathophysiology) - 3 cr. NU 534 (Epidemiology) - 3 cr.
YEAR 2 NU 536 (Population Health) - 3 cr.

NU 628 (Pharmacology) - 4 cr.

NU 622 (Assessment) - 4 cr./75 hr. lab NU 551 (Principles of Teaching and Learning) - 4 cr.
YEAR 3 NU 625 (Adult CNS I) - 4 cr./75 clinical hrs. NU 711 (Adult CNS II) - 5 cr./150 clinical hrs.

NU 712 (Adult CNS III) - 5 cr./225 clinical hrs.

NU 799 (Capstone Portfolio) - 1 cr.

*This is a sample only. Upon full acceptance to the program, students will consult with their assigned advisor to determine a plan based on seat availability, semester start and individual needs. Full-time options also available.

See Graduate Catalog for course descriptions »


The CNS program structure is grounded in established standards and curriculum guidelines set forth by regulatory and governing agencies. It is based upon the foundation of established core courses and advanced core courses, followed by a four-course sequence of specialty courses.  Students may opt for a full-time or part-time plan of study. Full-time students can complete the program in two calendar years. Part-time students can complete the program in three calendar years. The CNS program will also be offered as a post-Master’s certificate program; depending on the nature of transferrable courses, the post-Master’s certificate program can be completed in one to two years of part-time study. Graduates are eligible to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Health certification examination.

Program outcomes

At the completion of the CNS Program graduates will:

  • Integrate Christian humanism in advanced nursing practice that values and facilitates full human development via partnerships with individuals and population.
  • Provide collaborative, evidence based care to support and improve patient and population health outcomes.
  • Utilize specialized expertise in providing consultation to impact health outcomes.
  • Provide systems leadership to manage change, to influence clinical practices, and to impact political processes.
  • Collaborate within and across spheres of influence to optimize patient safety, culturally-sensitive care, and clinical excellence.
  • Contribute to the advancement of the profession through teaching, mentoring, and coaching across all spheres of influence.
  • Contribute to optimal patient outcomes through the interpretation, application, translation, and dissemination of evidence-based research.
  • Engage in the implementation and promotion of ethical decision making in resolving concerns across the spheres of influence.

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