College of Graduate Nursing

Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL)

Flexible Web-Based Programs Designed for Professional Nurses

Western University is one of the first institutions educating future nurse leaders in the unique Master of Science in Nursing, Health Systems Leadership – Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) track. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Clinical Nurse Leader or CNL is a new nursing role being developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in collaboration with leaders from the education and practice arenas. AACN is advancing the CNL to improve the quality of patient care and to better prepare nurses to thrive in the health care system. The CNL role emerged following research and discussion with stakeholder groups as a way to engage highly skilled clinicians in outcomes-based practice and quality improvement. In practice, the CNL oversees the care coordination of a distinct group of patients and actively provides direct patient care in complex situations. This master s degree-prepared clinician puts evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery. The CNL evaluates patient outcomes, assesses cohort risk, and has the decision-making authority to change care plans when necessary. The CNL is a leader in the health care delivery system, and the implementation of this role will vary across settings. This CCNE-accredited program consists of three integrated elements:

    • Web-based curriculum
    • Weekend sessions at the Pomona, California campus twice per semester
    • Preceptored clinical practicum

About the Program

This program is designed for bachelor-prepared Registered Nurses interested in becoming advanced generalists at the point of care. The CNL is prepared to lead patient safety and quality improvement, evidence-based practice, risk reduction, and care coordination. The CNL works with interprofessional teams caring for a variety of patient populations in all practice settings. This program combines the flexibility of on-line learning with seminar weekends to facilitate graduate education for professional nurses. Full-time and extended  track options are available.

The Curriculum

With the pre-program course CGN 5000: Communication and Information Management (1 unit) the MSN/Health Systems Leadership – Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL) curriculum consists of 49 semester units.  CGN 5000 is Mandatory and offered through the College of Graduate Nursing during the summer prior to the start of the program in the fall. Please note that CGN 5000 is not covered under financial aid because it is a pre-program course and not part of the core curriculum. Full-time students complete the program in two years. An extended track option is available which students complete the program in three years. Each course listed under each semester is taken concurrently and NOT one course at a time.

Please click on the links below to view the MSN/Health Systems Leadership – Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL) program curriculum (course number/title and unit value by semester):

MSN/Health Systems Leadership – Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL) Curriculum (p. 90, CGN catalog)

An extended track option is available for students that choose to take one additional year to complete the program. Students may choose the extended track option if they feel more time is needed to complete their education in order to meet career, family, and other outside commitments/obligations. The extended track is also a viable option for students who feel that the additional year will allow them to complete the program at a pace that better suits their learning goals. Students who choose the extended track option will still be eligible for financial aid.

You can also access the curriculum grids by visiting the first page of the  College of Graduate Nursing Student Catalog  and scrolling to the respective page within the catalog or by clicking on the respective section in the Table of Contents.

Please visit the Course Descriptions section within the College of Graduate Nursing Student Catalog to obtain course description information.

For more information regarding the MSN/HSL – Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL) curriculum, please contact: 

Marci Luxenburg-Horowitz, DNP, RN, CNL
Assistant Professor
Director, Health Systems Leadership MSN Program
E-mail: mhorowitz@westernu.edu.

Admissions Information

For information regarding prerequisite coursework and application requirements, please review the MSN/CNL admissions information, or if you are ready you may submit an online application. If you have any questions regarding the application requirements, please contact the Admissions Counselor: Chris Calzada at (909)706-3873.

Self-Directed Learning Activities

The World Wide Web provides a unique opportunity to offer students individualized learning experiences that would be impossible through other media. Online education provides an environment to facilitate critical thinking and interactive learning. Learning activities include discussion forums, group projects, presentations, and scholarly papers.

Clinical Experiences

Students willl be required to complete clinical experience hours. Clinical experiences for this track can take place at any point across the continuum of health care. You will be precepted by a clinical nurse expert in a selected practice setting to meet identified role competencies. A clinical professor will work with the student and preceptor to monitor progress throughout the practice experience. The clinical experiences will position students for new and unique employment opportunities after gradution. The CNL clinical experience is a requirement of CNL certification. For more information, please visit the Clinical Experiences web page.

Weekend Seminars

Twice during each semester, students are required to convene on campus for an intensive weekend of instruction. The weekend seminars provide an opportunity for faculty-student interaction, didactic instruction and demonstrations, student presentations, and group project work. To view Weekend Seminars and other important college-specific dates, please view the Academic Calendar.

Student Assessment

Student performance in each course is assessed through a combination of seminar participation, written and oral presentations, and/or objective examination.