Clinical Nurse Leader Vs. Nurse Practitioner

Explore the roles of a clinical nurse leader and a nurse practitioner. Learn about salary, job outlook, skills required and responsibilities of each position.

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Comparing Clinical Nurse Leader to Nurse Practitioner

Clinical nurse leaders coordinate a patient's overall health care while a nurse practitioner provides advanced, direct medical services and is referred to as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Clinical nurse leaders can work with any type of patient while a nurse practitioner usually specializes in a defined area.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth (2018-2028)**
Clinical Nurse Leader Master's Degree $77,826 (2019)* 12% (Registered Nurses)
Nurse Practitioner Master's Degree $107,030 (2018)** 28%

Sources: *, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of a Clinical Nurse Leader vs. Nurse Practitioner

Both clinical nurse leaders and nurse practitioners deliver healthcare services and are not management or administration roles. While nurse practitioners study advanced medical courses specific to their chosen specialty, a clinical nurse leader aims to increase his/her overall clinical knowledge during a master's program. Nurse practitioners can work independently to provide care while clinical nurse leaders are members of a broader healthcare team. Both nurse practitioners and clinical nurse leaders can work across all medical settings.

Clinical Nurse Leader

Clinical nurse leaders coordinate with other healthcare professionals to plan and implement a care plan for patients. His/her aim is to improve quality of care and increase communication across different caregivers. Clinical nurse leaders have the authority to alter the patient's care plan and may also provide direct patient care in complex situations. A clinical nurse leader collaborates with physicians, pharmacists, social workers and nurse practitioners. Clinical nurse leaders may also mentor nursing staff.

Job responsibilities of a clinical nurse leader include:

  • Measuring and evaluating data on patient outcomes
  • Monitoring risks in patient care
  • Understanding new innovations in healthcare
  • Recommending strategies for quality improvement
  • Liaising with patients and their families

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners typically focus on a certain type of care, such as geriatric, pediatric or mental health. Most nurse practitioners can prescribe medicine, order tests and provide diagnoses. Some nurse practitioners provide consulting services, teach or conduct research. Nurse practitioners may travel to a patient's home, work in a physician's office or at a hospital. The role is full time and shift timings vary according to the healthcare facility's requirements. The job can be both physically and emotionally demanding, as nurse practitioners usually spend the whole day on their feet and often make decisions critical to a patient's health.

Job responsibilities of a nurse practitioner include:

  • Collecting information on patient's symptoms and medical history
  • Conducting physical exams of patients
  • Creating and managing a patient's treatment plan
  • Evaluating test results
  • Consulting physicians and other specialists

Related Careers

If you are interested in the nurse practitioner role, you may want to learn about the clinical nurse specialist role, as it is also an advanced practice nursing job. Those intrigued by the clinical nurse leader role may be interested in a certified nursing administrator position, as it is also a leadership role.

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