The role of clinical nurse specialists was formalized in the 1950s; the goal was to prepare inpatient, bedside nurses who would serve acutely ill patients via consultation and direct care. Clinical nurse specialists were to be expert clinicians, consultants, educators, and researchers. In the early stages of practice development, the focus was the specific needs of the assigned unit or floor. Organizational restructuring led to the elimination of many positions for clinical nurse specialists, with a shift of some of the nurses’ responsibilities to others (ie, managers) or the abandonment of some of the traditional roles. Recently, a reversal occurred in this trend, evidenced by a steady growth in the demand for these advanced practice nurses by organizations seeking to improve patients’ outcomes while remaining fiscally responsible. This demand led to changes in role expectations and expanded the responsibilities of clinical nurse specialists to a system-wide or organization-wide level. Contemporary practice of clinical nurse specialists is not well reflected in traditional role definitions or commonly accepted practice models. The Synergy Model, developed by the AACN Certification Corporation, was introduced as a way of linking certified practice to patients’ outcomes. The model describes 8 nurse characteristics and 3 spheres of influence. This article describes how a group of clinical nurse specialists applied the model to successfully change from a unit-based to a multisystem practice.

You do not currently have access to this content.