Patients with complex and chronic illnesses and those who have significant needs related to care coordination and transitions of care are dependent on access to healthcare providers who are skilled at meeting the distinct needs of these populations and are current in the latest evidence-based practices and guidelines. Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are uniquely qualified to care for patients with complex illnesses as well as having the skills to optimize care for entire populations with complex needs. The absence of consistent legislative advanced practice registered nurse recognition of CNSs prevents health care systems from optimal use of this advanced practice registered nurse role to improve and provide safe and quality care for these patients. Additional barriers in optimal utilization of CNSs include lack of consistency: in title protection and licensing from state to state; ensuring patient access through identification and tracking of CNS numbers across the United States in order to determine workforce and educational program requirements; and ensuring appropriate reimbursement for care provided by CNSs. Therefore, it is the position of the American Academy of Nursing that addressing public and private sector regulatory, legislative, and policy concerns related to CNSs is essential to achieving optimal population health outcomes across the nation.
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