May 29, 2024  
2015-2016 Academic Catalog (Jan 2016) 
2015-2016 Academic Catalog (Jan 2016) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Clinical Nurse Leader, MSN


Program Description

The Master of Science in Nursing-Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL) program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center prepares advanced nurse generalists. Learning in the professional entry master’s CNL nursing program is directed toward the study of scientific rationale underlying nursing care, the development of critical thinking skills, knowledge of clinical microsystems, with a focus on quality, safety, and error reduction. Non-nurses are prepared for initial licensure as registered nurses and certification as a clinical nurse leader, and registered nurses for certification as a clinical nurse leader. As of October 2013, no further applications from non-nurses are accepted for the MSN-CNL program. Only applications from RNs with BSN or higher degrees in nursing will be accepted for admission into the entering 2015 MSN-CNL program. 

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the MSN-CNL Program, the graduate will be able to:

  1. Apply leadership principles of complexity and healthcare organization to care delivery at the microsystem level.
  2. Provide lateral integration of care services.
  3. Use epidemiological and scientific principles to evaluate healthcare outcomes.
  4. Use evidence-based practice to guide the healthcare of individuals, families, groups, and populations.
  5. Manage the care environment by incorporating principles of team coordination, delegation, and supervision.
  6. Analyze the effect of healthcare policy on organizational culture and patient care at the microsystem level.
  7. Apply principles of quality improvement and risk management to improve healthcare outcomes.
  8. Use information technology effectively and efficiently to provide evidence-based care.

Admission Process and Minimum Requirements

Admission is once per year. Applications are due November 1, 2015 for consideration of early acceptance or January 15, 2016 for regular consideration of admission into the Fall 2016 class All applicant materials (for example, application, application fee, recommendations, test results, and official transcripts) must be submitted by the application deadline in order for students to be considered for admission. Applications are submitted through Nursing CAS:
Admission to the MSN Program is competitive. Only applicants who meet minimum academic requirements (grade point average, test scores) will be considered for interview. Minimum requirements for admission to the MSN program are listed in the following table. Applicants who meet minimum requirements are not guaranteed admission. Preference is given to residents of Tennessee, but out-of- state applicants are also given consideration. Application instructions are located at:

Minimum Requirements

Criteria Applicants (Registered Nurses)
Grade point average (Submit transcripts) 2.5 or higher
Science pre-requisite GPA
* Grades of “C” or higher accepted
2.6 or higher
Science requisites completed within 10 years if practicing RN
Professional Recommendations address applicant’s ability to complete the program and perform in the CNL role Submit 3
Personal Statement Submit
Test of Essential Academic Skills™ (TEAS 5.0) Not needed
Graduation from an accredited nursing program with a bachelor degree, associate degree or nursing diploma Submit official transcripts with degree designated
Unencumbered registered nurse license with eligibility to practice in Tennessee Submit copy
Interview to assess personal qualities such as professionalism, strong commitment to providing quality care, advanced critical thinking and problem solving skills, and the ability to communicate effectively and engage in effective working relationships. Scheduled for mid-Feb through early March if applicant meets other criteria

If native tongue is not English, evidence of proficiency in English is documented through the submission of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. Minimum proficiency scores: 550 on TOEFL paper version, 213 on TOEFL computer version, and 80 on TOEFL Web-based version. TOEFL scores must have been earned within two years prior to application. Applicants may request exemption from the TOEFL examination requirement, for example, an earned high school degree from a US secondary education institution. Requests must be submitted before the application deadline to the Director of Student Affairs, (901) 448-6125.

Applicants who meet minimum requirements are not guaranteed admission. Students will be notified of admission decisions by email within two months of the application deadline, so at or before March 15, 2016. Admission preference is given to residents of Tennessee, but out-of-state applicants are also given consideration. Questions regarding residency status should be addressed to the UTHSC Assistant Director of Enrollment Services, 910 Madison Avenue, Suite 520, Memphis, TN 38163, (901) 448-5560. After admission to the College of Nursing, students pay a $75 non-refundable admission fee to UTHSC and a guaranteed enrollment deposit of $200. The guaranteed enrollment deposit is non-refundable and the deposit is applied to the first term tuition.

Pre-Matriculation Requirements

Students must complete required immunizations, a successful criminal background check and drug screening prior to matriculation. Students must receive medical clearance to meet performance standards and provide evidence of current cardiopulmonary certification that is maintained for the duration of the program. Additionally, registered nurses must hold and maintain for the duration of the program an unencumbered nursing license with authority to practice in Tennessee. Background checks and drug screens may be repeated during the student’s program of study. Students must maintain health and professional liability insurance during enrollment in the program.

Technical and Performance Standards

All students admitted to the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program must meet the following technical and core performance standards for admission and progression:

  1. Critical thinking sufficient for clinical judgment;
  2. Interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact with individuals, families, groups, and populations from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds;
  3. Communication abilities sufficient for verbal and written interaction with others. Speak, write and comprehend the English language proficiently;
  4. Use computer to word process, email, and access the World Wide Web;
  5. Physical abilities sufficient to move from room to room, walk in hallways, maneuver in small spaces, and the strength necessary to lift and transfer patients, including the ability to exert up to 50 lbs. occasionally and 25 lbs. of force frequently. Physical activities include climbing, pushing, standing, reaching, grasping, kneeling, stooping, and repetitive motion.
  6. Gross and fine motor abilities with good balance and coordination sufficient to provide safe and effective nursing care;
  7. Auditory ability sufficient to monitor and assess health needs;
  8. Visual ability, with close visual acuity including color, depth perception, and field of vision sufficient for observation and assessment necessary in nursing care;
  9. Tactile ability and manual dexterity sufficient for physical assessment and to provide nursing intervention including manipulating equipment necessary for providing nursing care.
  10. Computer literacy and adequate computer skills are required.

If a student cannot fulfill these Technical and Performance Standards, with or without accommodations, at any time in the program, the student will be ineligible for admission or continued progression in the MSN Program. In addition to assuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotional, and physical criteria for the MSN Program, it is of utmost importance that students have the ability to provide for the safety and welfare of their patients and others. Reasonable accommodations will be provided, when appropriate, to help student meet these Technical and Professional Standards. Determination of eligibility and recommendations of accommodations must be made by UTHSC Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion Any student wishing accommodations must contact the Office of Student Academic and Support Services and Inclusion at 901-448-5056 (email: 


The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program is approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (accredited 2009-2019).

Classroom, Clinical and Lab Hours Ratio per Credit

The clinical and laboratory hour per credit hour ratio in courses taught in the MSN program is3:1. Thus, 1 credit equates to 45 hours of clinical or laboratory experience over the course of the term, as well as additional student effort of approximately 22 hours related to preparation for the clinical and laboratory experiences. For didactic courses, a traditional 3 credit-hour course using a face-to-face lecture format involves approximately 45 contact hours as well as 90 or more hours of additional student effort over the course of the term.

MSN Clinical Nurse Leader Curriculum for Registered Nurses with a BSN or Higher Degree in Nursing

Registered nurses who have a bachelor in nursing degree may enroll as a full-time or part-time student in the MSN Clinical Nurse Leader program. Students complete the program in three (full-time) or four (part-time) terms. The program provides didactic instruction, and laboratory and clinical experiences. Courses are offered one time per academic year.