St. Mary's College of Maryland

Nursing: BSN and CNL Programs

This particular page assumes that you will be pursuing a nursing degree following attendance and/or graduation from St. Mary's. It will go through two recommended programs that end with certification as a Registered Nurse (RN) :

  1. Bachelor of Science Nurse (BSN)
    • Four year B.S. program that ends in certification as an RN (pending passing the NCLEX).
    • Typically, the first two years are spent fulfilling nursing prerequisites and undergraduate "core" coursework.
      • If you have already completed a bachelor's degree (i.e. at St. Mary's), you will have fewer prerequisites to complete.
      • In that case, plan on one to two semesters of prerequisite coursework, depending on the courses you took at St. Mary's.
    • The last two years (following application) are spent in nursing school, where you will take nursing coursework alongside hands-on clinical practice.
    • The BSN may be a good option if you are looking to transfer from St. Mary's in order to pursue your nursing career sooner.
      • In this case, you may choose to transfer to a school that offers all of the necessary prerequisite coursework.
      • Following the completion of such coursework (it will typically take about one year or so), you will be eligible to apply for a two-year nursing program.
      • Once you complete the nursing program, you will finish with a bachelor's degree and certification as an RN (pending passing the NCLEX).
  2. Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)
    • One- to two-year program (depending on the school/track) ending in a master's degree and certification as an RN (pending passing the NCLEX).
    • The program does not include prerequisite coursework, so you must have completed the groundwork by the time you enter the CNL program.
    • However, many programs are designed for students with an non-nursing undergraduate degree, and with careful planning you may not need to do any additional coursework following graduation from St. Mary's.
    • See this page for an overview of a CNL's role in the workplace.
    • In a nutshell, you can think of a CNL as an generalist RN with more leadership responsibilities.
      • CNLs oversee and coordinate patient care, as well as providing direct care in complex situations.
      • CNLs are trained to be generalists; check out this comparison table to see the differences between a CNL and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).
      • The implementation of the CNL role depends on the hospital or institution, but oftentimes CNLs will be a part of interdisciplinary teams of clinical nurse specialists, physicians, social workers, and pharmacists.

*Note: The Associate Degree Nurse (ADN) is being phased out in favor of the BSN. With this trend, ADNs no longer have many of the freedoms or job opportunities that registered nurses with a BSN have. [No worries-- the CNL is not designed to phase out the BSN; the two job-types collaborate well in the workplace.]

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