Hope College has teamed with Michigan State University to design an online, master's-level Clinical Nurse Leader program that will be offered by the university starting in the fall of 2006.
The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) is a new nursing role being developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in collaboration with leaders from education and practice. The nursing programs at Hope and MSU are working together in one of several partnerships formed by a variety of institutions as part of a national pilot project AACN launched to support creation of the new role.
CNLs coordinate the care of patient groups in order to streamline the delivery of health care and to make it more effective. They can work in a variety of settings, including clinics and hospitals, and with a team which includes licensed nurses, technicians and other health professionals, all of whom may be involved in an individual patient's care.
AACN outlined the need in a 2004 "working paper" on the role of the CNL: "The realities of a global society, expanding technologies, and an increasingly diverse population require nurses to master complex information, to coordinate a variety of care experiences, to use technology for health care delivery and evaluation of nursing outcomes, and to assist clients with managing an increasingly complex system of care."
The program being developed by Hope and MSU will include advanced preparation in decision making, assessment and disease management, research, health care management, pharmacology and pathophysiology, and the sequence will run either full-time for four semesters, fall through fall, or part-time for seven. While the coursework will all be conducted online, the degree will include a 600-hour, full-time residency at locations including Spectrum Health or Saint Mary's in Grand Rapids, or the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Battle Creek.
According to Debra Sietsema, chairperson of the department of nursing at Hope, the college's involvement has centered on curriculum development, drawing on dimensions including the department's experience with research-oriented learning experiences and a culminating internship. Members of the Hope faculty may also serve as instructors for clinical experiences in the area. In addition, she said, the department's ongoing relationships with Spectrum Health and Saint Mary's facilitated the two organizations' involvement as clinical sites for the master's program's residency.
Sietsema noted that while there are approximately 85 pilot partnerships nationwide, only three or four include an undergraduate school like Hope - and that the pairing has already generated interest. "We've already been asked, once we initiate our program and evaluate it, to bring our results to national meetings," she said.