More than 9 in 10 nurses who earned Clinical Nurse Leader master's degrees at UVA report being "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied"

with their decision to become a nurse and happy in their personal and professional lives, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality.

These CNLs also remain in their jobs longer than nurses who graduate from other kinds of programs and may be “good investment” for healthcare institutions that struggle with nurse retention.

of CNL grads are happy with their decision to become a nurse

The study by professors Emily Drake and Gina DeGennaro and academic specialist Dillon Kuhn assessed responses from 109 UVA CNL graduates who earned master's degrees between 2007 and 2017. 

  • More than 9 in 10 CNL graduates reported being "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with both their decision to become a nurse and with both their personal and professional lives;

  • Although few respondents reported working in CNL-specific roles, and often lamented the dearth of these roles, CNL graduates reported strong incomes: three-fifths earned between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, and 10% earned in excess of $125,000 a year;

  • CNLs also achieved high certification achievement rates: more than 1/3 earned CNL certification and 90% had another kind of certification.

The CNL, conceptualized in 2005 as a fast-track-to-nursing degree program for those from outside the profession who have at least a bachelor’s degree, combines lessons in leadership, quality, and safety with exceptional clinical competency. Fifteen years ago, fewer than 400 individuals earned CNL certification; today, more than 8,000 nurses across the US are CNL-certified.

“Hospital systems may find that hiring these CNL graduates is a good investment because," the authors write, "based on these survey results, their retention rates appear high, and they are able to take on leadership roles fairly quickly.”

UVA's CNL program, a two-year, full-time, fast-track to nursing program for individuals from outside the profession who've earned at least a bachelor's degree in another field, has earned high marks from U.S. News & World Report's Best Grad School Guide several years running, including a No. 1-in-the-nation rank.

Virginia's first such program, UVA's CNL program officially began in 2005, replacing its previous accelerated BSN program. It has attracted repeated philanthropic support, including a $5 million gift in 2013 that doubled the program's size, and another $5 million gift in 2017 that supported the education and preparation of 110 new nurses over a five year span and established the Conway Scholars program.

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Learn about our award-winning CNL program here.